The Bait and Switch or Phishing
Phishing is a term that has become popular to describe a method of hacking that works much like it’s namesake. Basic fishing (the actual kind) which doesn’t involve nets or other modern technology is very simple. At it’s core is putting bait on a hook to attract a fish and reeling them in when they bite. Phishing works the same way, in that a user is baited into biting on bait before being reeled in. The bait itself could seem trustworthy or very fake, regardless it will be taken up by someone. Once they trust it or are “hooked” the hacker can access a plethora of information, what the victim is willing to give, or maybe more if they had access to their system. Can the fish really do anything once it has been hooked on? Sometimes the fish breaks loose, but most of the time it gets reeled in. Much like the fish a victim is almost certainly going to be negatively impacted by the phishing, there are a few cases where they escape and nothing happens to them, but most of the time they don’t get happy endings.
This type of attack can be easily spotted. By finding any inconsistencies in the attacker’s “bait”. Generally the file that wants to access your data will have something that reveals that it is not what it says it is. nor what it pretends to be. Sometimes the hacker is foolproof and has created something that seems entirely legitimate. There will most likely be no way of telling if it is a phishing attempt or not, but you must always be wary of them and try to confirm 100% that it is legitimate.
Defending against the attack is simple, just ignore it. Do not give information, do not respond to them, and do not keep it on your system. Delete the message, file, or whatever it is that wants your information and do not give it any. Defense is common sense here, don’t give away sensitive information, and don’t download files that seem trustworthy besides being completely sure.
If a file says that it is an entire movie that is still in theaters for free, and says you just need your information. Files or free stuff hidden behind information walls, or surveys are probably non-existent. It’s not real, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow most of the time. Since you probably are gonna download those types of files anyways, make sure to check the comments and see if it is legitimate. Remember to always scan it for viruses too.
Over the years phishing attempts have grown better. They started from being seemingly obviously pleas for sensitive information in exchange for money to being a very realistic replica of official messages. Most recently there was an email circulating that targeted G-mail users that seemed innocuous. It acted as a sharing file link that google itself sends, but then redirects to a page which takes your login information. Phishing attacks get more sophisticated each day, and you will always need to protect yourself from them whenever the need arises.