Phishing attack

Last updated on May 03rd, 2022 by Joel Farrugia. Filed under

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What is a phishing attack?

Phishing attacks are a subtype of social engineering attacks that aim to exploit trust for malicious purposes. In most cases, phishing attacks are carried out through emails, websites, and messages in which a message purporting to be coming from a trusted source asks the user to carry out an action such as clicking a link or entering sensitive information.

The message, however, is carefully crafted by an attacker to resemble an official message. Once the user takes the action, the attacker receives the data, which can include anything from login credentials to sensitive information. Phishing attacks can also lead to other types of attacks such as ransomware and theft.

By their very nature, phishing attacks are very generic and aim to ensnare as many users as possible. Spear phishing attacks, on the other hand, work exactly like phishing attacks but are more targeted. These attacks tend to be more customized towards the victim and as such may be harder to recognize.

Why are phishing attacks dangerous?

Phishing attacks are dangerous as they can lead to data being compromised. Furthermore, the compromised data can be used to launch further attacks.

Data and financial theft are often the primary targets of attackers using phishing attacks. WordPress administrators and website owners might also experience user data theft, which can lead to liability and compliance issues.

How phishing attacks target WordPress websites

Phishing attacks do not target WordPress websites directly. Instead, they target users. An attacker might send an email that claims to be from your website to your users. You might also receive an email that claims to originate from a trusted source, asking you to disclose information such as your login credentials.

Should the attacker gain the information, they might possibly launch direct attacks against your WordPress website.

How to protect yourself from phishing attacks

Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to protect yourself and your users from phishing attacks.

Two-factor authentication is a good first step to take in protecting yourself and your users from phishing attacks. While this will not stop phishing attempts, it adds an extra layer of login security by requiring the user to authenticate via an OTP in conjunction with their regular username and password.

By using the WP 2FA plugin, you can ensure that all users are able to configure 2FA. It is highly customizable and easy to set up, allowing even non-technical WordPress website owners to set up 2FA with minimal fuss.

A strong WordPress password policy can also make it more difficult for attackers to get through. More importantly, perhaps is the inclusion of frequent password changes and not allowing the use of old passwords.

Lastly, education can lead to vigilance, empowering users to recognize whether an email is legitimate or not. Typically, you’ll find a number of tell-tale signs such as bad spelling and poorly laid out elements that can help users recognize phishing attempts.

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