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Crazy Enough to Work: Outlandish Phishing Techniques

Posted 7th February 2022

Most businesses are aware of the increasing threat of phishing attacks. Plus, with the shift to remote working, more end-users are exposed, and more likely to fall for the nasty techniques of phishers. Although many businesses have taken several security measures and trained their employees to spot common phishing attacks, attackers always seem to find more elaborate ways to trick users. Social engineering tricks are powerful, and even a trained eye may struggle to detect a scam. Hackers will always keep finding new and more sophisticated ways to trick end-users into revealing valuable data. This data can then be used for a number of malicious activities. That’s why businesses need to ensure that their employees are familiar with the more outlandish phishing techniques of the internet. Here are the 5 most elaborate types of phishing attacks you should keep an eye out for to avoid a disaster or data breach.

Sophisticated phishing techniques to look out for

1) Man-in-the-Middle attacks

A Man-in-the-Middle attack generally involves three parties. The victim, an application through which the attacker is trying to communicate with the victim, and the attacker himself acting as the man in the middle. The man in the middle will either eavesdrop on or communicate directly with the victim. This could be via an email, for example. The attacker sends an email, making it look like it came directly from your bank. In the email, you’ll be asked to click onto a link leading you to a fake website where you’ll submit your personal details.

2) Content Injection

An attack called content injection or content spoofing is when a hacker tries to present a fake but legitimate-looking website to the victim. The content on any vulnerable web application can be modified through text or html injection. As the injected parameters to the website will very likely go unnoticed by the visitor, they will land on a page that looks very much like the original website. If the end-user then submits sensitive information to this fake website, it could have business-threatening consequences.

phishing techniques

3) CEO Fraud

CEO Fraud, or whaling, is a very sophisticated and effective type of phishing attack, as it impersonates ‘the whale’, the big fish. It uses an email address familiar to the victim, such as a business owner, business partner, finance, IT, or HR director, asking the victim to take immediate action. The hacker will trick victims into transferring money, sharing sensitive data, or even installing an application to their computer. Tax return scams are very popular for this type of phishing attack as hackers manage to retrieve highly valuable data.

4) Link Manipulation

Another effective phishing technique is link manipulation. The phisher will alter the parameters of a URL. They will then send an email with the malicious link tricking victims into believing they’re led through to a popular website. Instead, the link leads to a fake website rather than the website named in the link. Upon entering the website, a malicious code will usually be installed to the victim’s hardware and infect all systems.

5) Pharming

Pharming is a type of phishing attack that is often very difficult to detect due to its more technical approach. This phishing method doesn’t attack victims directly but targets DNS servers (Domain Name System), which translates readable domain names into IP addresses to locate visitors to devices. During Pharming hackers will attack DNS servers and redirect visitors to fake websites so they can steal the end-user’s visitor data.


Phishing attacks are very effective due to the successful use of social engineering tactics. Phishers will try to gain people’s trust and play with the victim’s emotions by tricking them into following their instinct to do the right thing. All it needs is one momentary lapse of judgment caused by a sense of urgency or panic to fall victim to a phishing attack.

So how can you keep your employees safe? Cyber security training, cyber security training, cyber security training. Training your employees and making them aware of the most common and the most sophisticated phishing attacks is essential to detecting the many nasty phishing methods out there. This is why CMI offers comprehensive cyber security awareness training for businesses looking to educate their staff and strengthen their cyber security.

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