Phishing Vs Vishing – The Key Differences Explained

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Difference between Phishing and Vishing

Comparing Phishing and Vishing Cyber Attacks

Vishing is a sort of social engineering assault that employs phone calls or voice messages to fool people into disclosing important information, in contrast to phishing, which uses phony emails and websites that deceive victims into providing their private and banking information.

To get sensitive information online, cybercriminals regularly utilize phishing and vishing scams. It is unfortunate that many people wrongly think that these two categories of attack are identical, but in reality, it’s the opposite. In the article, we will examine Phishing vs Vishing, ways to spot these attacks, and techniques to countermeasure these attacks.

What is Phishing?

Any fraudulent email that is sent with the intention of deceiving the user into sharing their confidential and sensitive information falls under the phishing attack.

Phishing emails are sent in bulk to mass audiences, supposing that at least 1-2% of the people who have received the mail would react as per the attacker’s instructions. This type of phishing is considered regular phishing. 

There is another form of phishing known as Spear Phishing. In this type of phishing, a small number of selected users are targeted that fulfill the attacker’s criteria. In this type of phishing attack, the attackers go for quality rather than quantity, as in regular phishing attacks.

How do malicious actors perform the Phishing attack?

Phishing attacks are carried out by malicious actors that utilize various techniques to deceive users into disclosing sensitive information. The most typical technique is sending a phony email that looks to be from a reliable source, such as a bank or social networking site, and asking the recipient to reply with private information. The attacker frequently employs urgency or intimidation techniques to improve the probability that the victim will comply.

Another tactic attackers employ is including a user-clickable URL in the email. When users click the link, they are sent to a false website that seems official and asks them to submit their personal information. The attacker then has access to this data, which helps them accomplish their objective.

Attackers may occasionally include attachments with harmful software, such as files or images. When the code is downloaded, the computer might download harmful software without the user’s knowledge.

How can a phishing attack be recognized?

Verify the sender’s email address

Attackers frequently employ email addresses that differ significantly from the real one, such as switching the “.com” to the “.org” or adding extra characters. Check the email address of the sender before replying or opening any links.

Verify the text for grammatical and typographical errors

Spelling, grammar, and awkward phrasing are common in phishing emails, which is a warning sign because organizations with expertise often review their communications.

If the email contains a hyperlink, hover the mouse pointer over it to see if the URL matches the expected destination. Attackers often use links that appear legitimate but lead to fake websites.

Check the message tone

Phishing emails often use an urgent or threatening tone, compelling the user to act quickly and provide personal information. Be wary of emails that demand immediate action without giving you time to verify the request’s authenticity.

Verify the request

If the email requests sensitive information, you should confirm the request by contacting the company directly or visiting their website.

What is Vishing?

Any fraudulent call or voice message intended to deceive users into sharing their confidential and sensitive information falls under the vishing attack. Nowadays, attackers imitate people by using AI to replicate voices and deceive people into sending funds to them.

How do malicious actors perform a vishing attack?

Vishing (voice phishing) assaults are carried out by malicious actors utilizing phone calls to trick consumers into disclosing sensitive information. The attacker often mimics to be a trustworthy company or person, like a bank employee or customer care representative and asks the user to provide sensitive data, including login passwords, credit card information, or social security numbers.

The attacker may utilize social engineering approaches to acquire the user’s trust and create a sense of urgency or fear. The user will be convinced to respond quickly and provide the required information as a result. To make it appear as though the call is coming from a trustworthy source, the attacker may even play pre-recorded messages or utilize a fake caller ID.

Vishing attacks may also be carried out through interactive voice response (IVR) systems or automated voice messages, which prompt the user to enter sensitive information using the keypad.

How can a vishing attack be recognized?

Caller ID

Attackers frequently employ spoofing strategies to make their calls seem to be coming from a legitimate company. Therefore, consumers should exercise caution and confirm the caller’s identity when receiving calls from unknown or blacklisted numbers.

Urgent or threatening tone:

Vishing attackers frequently employ an urgent or threatening tone to get the user to respond swiftly and divulge crucial facts. Users must be on the lookout for such strategies and refrain from giving out private data over the phone.

Personal data requests

Vishing attackers frequently ask for personal data like credit card numbers, social security numbers, or login passwords. Users should avoid divulging intimate knowledge until they can confirm the caller’s identity and the request’s validity.

Automated messaging

Vishing attacks may also be carried out utilizing IVR systems or automated voice messages, prompting the user to enter sensitive data using the keypad.

How to defend against phishing and vishing attacks?

Verify the identity of the sender or caller

They can accomplish this by looking up the email address associated with the sender or domain name or by contacting the company directly.

Verify phone numbers and URLs

Users should double-check the legitimacy of any links contained in emails by hovering over the URLs. Additionally, they must call the organization’s official number to crosscheck the necessity of the required details.

Implement 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)

For sensitive accounts, individuals must enable two-factor authentication, which necessitates additional proof of identity besides a username and password, such as fingerprints or a one-time password (OTP).

Employee Training and Education

Organizations should give their team the knowledge they need to identify and avoid phishing and vishing attacks and the appropriate training.

Install security software

Users should install reputable antivirus and safety programs, such as anti-phishing and anti-malware software, to recognize and thwart potential threats.

Keep software updated

To be secure from known vulnerabilities that may be employed in a phishing or vishing attack, users should routinely update their operating systems, browsers, and other software.

Phishing vs Vishing Comparison

For a better understanding, let’s go through Vishing vs Phishing attacks in a tabular format:

BenchmarkVishingPhishing
Attack methodPhone callEmail
Delivery mechanismPre-recorded voice messages, voice over internet protocol (VoIP), or interactive voice response (IVR) systemsHyperlinks, attachments, or embedded scripts in emails or messages       
Number of users that are targetedSpecific individual or organization at a timeMultiple users at a time
SpoofingCaller ID or phone numberSender email address or domain, web page, or digital SMIME certificates
Attack durationUsually occurs in a short timeframe to extract information or make transactionsIt can be ongoing for days or weeks 
ComplexityHigher level of complexity due to the need for voice interaction and social engineering tacticsLow to moderate
AccuracyLessMore
Attack typeManualAutomated
Mostly preferred and usedNoYes
HackersIntermediate-level hackersExpert-level hackers
PreventionEducating employees on how to detect social engineering tactics, avoiding sharing personal or confidential information over the phone, and verifying caller identity before providing sensitive informationUse of spam filters, phishing awareness training, two-factor authentication, and anti-phishing software
ExampleBin-diving, demon dialing, etc.Fake bills, fraudulent Account modification, etc.  

Key differences between phishing and vishing attacks

Here are key differences:

Phishing

  • Attacks are delivered via email, text messages, or instant messaging.
  • Typically uses hyperlinks, attachments, or embedded scripts in emails or messages to deliver malware or to trick the user into providing sensitive information.
  • It can target a large number of individuals or organizations with mass email campaigns.
  • Sender email address or domain, web page, or digital certificates can be spoofed.
  • Attack duration can be ongoing for days or weeks.
  • Lower to moderate complexity is required to execute these attacks.
  • Prevention – use of spam filters, phishing awareness training, two-factor authentication, and anti-phishing software.

Vishing

  • Attacks are delivered via phone calls.
  • Typically uses pre-recorded voice messages, voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP), or interactive voice response (IVR) systems to extract sensitive information or make transactions.
  • Targets specific individuals or organizations with social engineering tactics.
  • Caller ID or phone numbers can be spoofed to appear as a legitimate organization.
  • Attack duration is usually short and occurs within a specific timeframe.
  • A higher level of complexity is required due to the need for voice interaction and social engineering tactics.
  • Prevention – educating employees on how to detect social engineering tactics, avoiding sharing personal or confidential information over the phone, and verifying caller identity before providing sensitive information.

Conclusion

Phishing and vishing are serious cyber threats with the objective to steal crucial data from oblivious victims. While phishing employs bogus emails and websites to deceive people into supplying personal information, vishing uses phone calls to obtain sensitive information. Individuals and organizations must be aware of these risks and implement preventative measures to avoid becoming victims of these kinds of cyber attack.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.