What is Phishing? Examples and Types of Phishing Attacks

types of phishing attacks

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a social engineering malicious technique where attackers target the victim by sending a misleading link or attachment(usually through an email). 

After clicking on links, phishers try to steal the user's confidential and private data and information.

The most alarming thing about a phishing attack is that here the attacker pretends to be a trusted entity such as your bank or a sensitive organization. 

So, your bank account, credit card information, and other personal information can be stolen and misused.

Phishing is an old type of cyberattack that dates back to the 1990s. Despite many cyberattacks defending security software, it is still a dangerous and harmful type of cyber-attack.  

The attackers can spread various types of malware, spyware, and ransomware, etc. through a phishing attack.

Types of Phishing

Phishing is itself not only a single type of attack. There are many types of phishing attacks that are worth understanding to prevent such attacks in the future. Some of the main types of phishing attacks are as follows.

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is one of the harmful types of phishing attacks. Almost 91 percent of successful cyberattacks starts with the spear-phishing attacks. Unlike other phishing attacks, the attackers don't target by spammy emails. 

 Instead of sending spammy email messages, the attackers properly research an individual, his/her interests, etc. and then tempt the people to compromise their confidential information.

The attacker can visit your profile on Facebook to check your interests. After this, they will send you a link with the subject of the email according to your taste.

 In this way, it will be more likely that you can click that malicious link to compromise your data.


Whaling is also another kind of danger phishing attack. It is, in fact, a type of spear-phishing attack. In this kind of attack, unlike other phishing attacks, the attackers try to target the person at the executive position such as CEO or owner in the company.

 It is a harmful type of cyberattack as this type of person has full access to the confidential information of the company.

 In this way, once the hackers have compromised the account of the CEO of the company, then they can steal more data and confidential information from the company.


SMS phishing is also known as smishing. Smishing is one of the popular types of phishing attacks. It can be a horrible attack as most of the people trust the links sent via text messages. A smisher can target users in different ways. Sometimes the attackers send a message to sign up for an offer with 50% off. In this way, the users can give all of their confidential information to an untrusted use. In this way, these attackers can manipulate this data to get a new credit card or perform other illegal activities.


Pharming is another type of phishing attack. In this attack, the attackers entice you to install a malicious program that directly attacks the server setting of the computer. To understand Pharming, you must understand the working of DNS. When you enter the URL of the site in your browser, this URL address is associated with the IP address. 

 The browser tries to get information from the cache. If it doesn't find the data in the cache, it goes to the DNS and asks to get data.

In the pharming attack, the attacker changes the DNS setting to redirect you to a bogus site.

 Now even when you put a correct URL, the manipulated DNS settings will redirect you to another website (probably a malicious site).

Pharming is a horrible type of cyber-attack because, in this attack, you will be brought a malicious site even after putting a correct URL.

Search Engine Phishing

Search engine phishing is a new type of phishing where an attacker can buy or hack a website having a good Google ranking.

After hijacking that website, the attacker will redirect the old URL to a new malicious URL. 

A search engine phishing attack is not a very common type of phishing attack. However, it can be a dangerous attack as you can take a website as a trusted one without knowing about the manipulation of that website.


Vishing is a type of phishing attack where the hackers try to lure the people leaking their secret information through a voice call. They can ask you about your credit card detail, your personal information, and sensitive data.

Many times you can receive a fake mobile phone call where hackers can ask to verify your account by telling your personal information, online banking passwords, etc. 

Examples of Phishing Attacks

Examples of Whaling Attacks

Whaling is such a worst and dangerous attack that attackers attacked the account of the CEO of Snapchat. The attacker pretended to be the CEO of the company and asked the employees to send the data of payrolls.

Later on, the FBI investigated the matter.

Examples of Vishing Attacks

Examples of the vishing attacks include the Verizon vishing attacks where the attackers masqueraded as the Verizon officials and stole the user's personal information.

Similarly, attackers also targetted Microsoft users by making fake phone calls by disguising themselves as Microsoft support.


There are many types of scams around the internet. Hackers use the phishing technique to promote these scams on the internet. They may send you spammy emails, target your online profile by spear-phishing or steal your sensitive information using vishing (voice phishing attack).

So, you must be very careful before opening any anonymous email or link to prevent phishing.

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