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What is Vishing in Cyber Security?

This article defines Vishing in Cyber Security, explains how it works, and provides examples. Plus, learn how to protect yourself from this type of cyber-attack.

Introduction to Vishing in Cyber Security Terms

Vishing is a phishing and voice-calling hybrid that can be used for cyberattacks. Vishing is short for Voice Vishing or Voice Phishing, which is a fraudulent practice of making an automated phone call in order to trick users into disclosing sensitive information such as personal identifiers, passwords, or credit card details.

A vishing attack initiates communication with the victim by telephone instead of email or other digital means. By leveraging the trust associated with phone calls and the natural tendency for people to respond when receiving them, these phishing schemes are more successful than email attacks alone.

Vishing is a type of social engineering attack that aims to trick users into disclosing confidential details like login credentials, debit card numbers, or bank account information by impersonating trusted third parties like banks, financial institutions, and tech support services.

In general terms, Vishing is a form of social engineering designed to trick victims into disclosing confidential information over the telephone by masquerading as trustworthy entities like banks, financial institutions, and tech support services.

What is Voice Phishing?

Voice phishing can be broadly defined as a fraudulent practice of making an automated phone call in order to trick users into disclosing sensitive information such as personal identifiers, passwords, or credit card details.

Vishing relies on social engineering tactics to extract sensitive information from unsuspecting call recipients by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Voice phishing attacks are made by pretending to be a legitimate organization with which the recipient may be familiar, such as their bank, an insurance company, a government agency, or even a family member.

Vishing Attack Strategies

Vishing attack strategies can be broadly categorized into three groups:

  • Social Engineering: This is the art of influencing people and tricking them into providing their confidential information by pretending to be someone that they trust. Scammers use social engineering to exploit emotions and manipulate victims into believing they are contacting a genuine organization.
  • Pretexting: Pretexting is a form of social engineering that involves creating and using an apparently valid reason or excuse to gain access to information that a person may not otherwise want to or be required to give.
  • Inundation: This is another method adopted by vishing scammers to fool their victims. Inundation refers to the deluge of calls and emails sent to a target to make them think that the call is important and their prompt response is needed.

Why Vishing Works

Vishing attacks can be successful because people tend to trust phone numbers and are less likely to be suspicious. In addition to this, people tend to have a false sense of urgency that compels them to respond to these calls and provide their confidential information.

A study also found that vishing also works due to miscommunication. A survey conducted by Experian found that nearly two-thirds of respondents were “not at all familiar” with vishing, and, as a result, miscommunication was common during vishing attacks.

Some people who fall for vishing schemes may be embarrassed to tell their friends and family that they lost money due to poor cyber security awareness. Keeping quiet may be their way of avoiding shame and keeping their financial blunders private, which means that the scale of vishing attacks may be higher than what is reported.

Types of Vishing Attacks

There are multiple types of vishing attacks that can be broadly classified into two categories: impersonation and pretexting. Impersonation attacks: In impersonation attacks, scammers impersonate legitimate organizations like banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, and other financial institutions to extract sensitive information.

Scammers may even spoof IP addresses and use online tools like domain names that are similar to the legitimate organizations. Pretexting attacks: Pretexting attacks involve creating and using an apparently valid reason or excuse to fool victims into disclosing their sensitive information like a false cyber security incident, health scare, or a natural disaster to prompt a victim to respond.

Protection against Vishing Attacks

Vishing can only be prevented entirely if people completely stop using their phones. However, that’s an unrealistic solution and that’s why people must follow certain guidelines to stay protected against vishing attacks. Here are a few ways to protect yourself against vishing attacks:

  • Stay informed: Keep yourself updated with the various types of phishing scams and their modus operandi. Stay connected with the news related to cyber security and follow the advice and tips offered by security researchers, tech companies, and government agencies.
  • Verify the legitimacy: If you receive a call from an organization, find out if they use automated phone calls. If yes, then it’s a vishing attack and you must end the call. However, if the call is from a real person, ask them to call you back on a different number.
  • Respond to emails only: Avoid responding to phone calls from financial institutions, especially if you didn’t initiate the call.
  • Be cautious about social media: Be careful about the information that you share on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Scammers can steal your information and use it for malicious purposes.

Summing up

Vishing is a form of cyberattack that combines elements of both phishing and voice calling. Voice phishing, also known as Vishing, is the fraudulent practice of placing an automated phone call in an attempt to get personal information from the recipient, such as a password, credit card number, or another piece of information that can be used to steal their identity. Victims of a vishing assault are first contacted via phone rather than email or another digital medium.