Vishing Attack - What is it?
What is a Vishing Attack?
Technically, it is a variety of phishing attack wherein the attacker lures the victim using a phone/audio call, instead of email. Please note that the word ‘Vishing’ is made up of voice and phishing. Hope these 2 words have already clarified a lot for you.
How does a vishing attack work and why do they do it?
Just like any other attack, the functioning of this attack involves three aspects:
- The attacker: Cybercriminals and hackers that use varying ways of vishing to fool others.
- The victim: It’s the individual or organization that ends-up compromising crucial information.
- The vulnerability exploited: In vishing, the attack exploits a human’s tendency to panic or fear any mishappening. By adding a factor that makes people panic or worried, the attacker forces the victim to share crucial information.
An attacker or group of attackers takes the help of a computing system that dials tons of numbers, featuring the same number combination, at once. Such bulk dialing is done in a hope that at least one or two calls will be connected to a potential/vulnerable victim.
Once the call is connected, the attacker now takes the cover up of an authorized person or a representative of government agencies/bank/financial institutes and creates a situation that would ask for immediate action.
For instance, the person with malintentions can tell the victim that the call is from the Income Tax department and the victim is eligible for a tax return to be claimed in the next one hour. To process the amount transfer, the victim has to share the right account details/net banking password/ATM PIN for verification right now.
To pursue the victim, attackers can also present the after-effect picture if immediately asked actions are not taken. They can tell the victim that their bank account would be seized or they have to pay a heavy return.
With all these things, panic is created around the victim and, one out of a hundred or thousand can fall into the trap.
Earlier, the phone number, from which vishing calls were made, was displayed on the phone screen of the victim. But, the advanced calling technology that we’ve today is capable of hiding the identity.
As far as motives is concerned, attackers trying vishing conduct them to:
- Fetch money from the victim: Based upon the information extracted and the competency of the hacker, vishing can be used to extract money from the victim. If recent market research is taken into account, vishing attacks, conducted by payment via gift cards, cost $120 million to the victim in the US in 2020. The whole world picture would be much scarier.
- Steal crucial customer data that they can sell to third parties: Customer information holds great worth in the market as companies can use them to sell their services to them. So, hackers can grab the customer data/info and sell them to such businesses.
- Showcase their skills: At the time, hackers carried out vishing attacks just to prove their excellence to the world. They just want to show what they are capable of.
Vishing vs Phishing vs Smishing
Phishing is an attackwhere attackers does the social engineering, takee the advantage of the emotional vulnerability of a person and used it against them. In phishing, threatening, benefit-offering, or lucrative emails are shared with the victims. This email either features a corrupted link or software and a persuading text that will compel the victim to entertain that link/software. Once it’s done, an attacker can extract money or steal data.
Vishing and smishing are more or less similar to the above. The only difference is that vishing happens using voice calls and smishing takes place using SMS.
Here are the most commonly used vishing techniques that you should be aware of:
VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is the most famous vishing technique as it makes the caller's identity completely hidden. VoIP numbers are not linked with any specific locations and usually start with 1-800.
- Caller ID Spoofing
It involves hiding the ID of the callers so that no one can make out who is calling. With the Caller ID spoofing technique, the attacker hides the location and identity while carrying out an attack.
There is software that helps attackers to call a particular location with the help of a message that mentions banks or police departments. Once the call is connected, a pre-recorded and automated message starts playing. The message might mention the urgency of sharing asked banking or crucial information.
- Dumpster Diving
Attackers often dig deeper into the dumpsters of organizations like banks, financial institutes, tax departments, and many others where crucial information may be stored.
Common Scenarios or Examples
Here are the most common vishing attack examples:
- Tech Support
Attackers claim to be trusted tech support of a technology that you’re using and might offer you a lucrative deal or huge discount on the subscription. In order to claim the offer, the attacker will ask for critical information.
- Banks or Financing Organizations
Hackers often disguise as bank representatives and tell victims about very lucrative loan offers. For further processing, they would ask for vital personal/professional/financial details.
- Investments and other financial solutions
In some vishing incidents, attackers can lure victims for huge returns out of a small investment. It’s very common that attackers can suggest to you a new investment scheme/SIP/stock that offers high ROI.
To get started with the investment, certain banking information will be asked for.
A vishing attack may be presented to the victim as a medical emergency or a medical scheme offering better medical assistance and facilities.
How do you Recognize Vishing?
- Pay attention to what information is being asked over the phone.
- If it’s too much information that the caller is asking for, it’s a vishing attempt.
- The numbers that hackers use for vishing attacks are often displayed as spam. Don’t entertain such a thing.
- Vishing callers are often very anxious and will force you to take immediate action.
Preventing Vishing Attacks
As vishing is very common, learning about ‘how to avoid vishing attacks’ is very important as it will help you reduce the impact and stay safe. Here are a few ways using which one can prevent vishing attacks, one type of cyber attack.
- Never share too much information with any outsider
- Always entertain only verified numbers
- Don’t get tempted with offers like gift cards, vouchers, and huge discounts. If there is any scheme, try to verify it from various sources like the internet and official websites.
- Don’t grant remote computer access to anyone unless someone authorized is asking for it
It’s hard to survive in today’s world where cyber-criminals are everywhere. As a vishing attack seems very genuine and is very persistent, it’s hard to stay away from its reach. However, certain awareness and attentiveness can keep you safe.