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Phishing is one of the most popular methods for cyber attackers to deliver malware. These attacks lure victims with lucrative offers, such as a lottery win or over-the-top prizes like a free iPhone. They then coax them into installing malware or handing over credentials and information, which can be used to ransack personal and company accounts, steal identities, or even sell the stolen data on the black market.

Threat actors use more targeted phishing if they are after something specific, such as access to a certain network or data, or information from a politician or political candidate. In these cases, they will often research the victim’s communication style and information to make their fake messages sound more familiar and credible so that the target is more likely to click a link or provide information.

In addition to the targeting of individuals, phishing is also a common attack method for small businesses that don’t have the resources to implement cybersecurity controls that large corporations do. The attack may simply involve sending a fake email to the employees, telling them there has been fraudulent activity on their account, and asking them to click a link or provide information in order to verify their identity.

Recognizing a phishing attempt can be difficult, but a little common sense goes a long way. Beware of emails requesting that you install software or login to an Internet page, especially those that appear to be from a company with a well-known name. Additionally, look for misspellings and grammatical mistakes as an indicator that the message is not legitimate.