A Review of a Top Cyber Attack Vector – Phishing

There are many ways that a bad actor can gain access to a network, a system or an endpoint such as a desktop, laptop or smartphone. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention that cyber crimes and these bad actors are on the rise in the technologically driven world we live in.  One particularly malicious attack vector that is currently on the rise is the use of phishing scams. Let’s take a closer examination of what attack vectors are, how phishing scams occur, what red flags to be aware of and how to prevent these attacks from taking place at your organization. 

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What Is An Attack Vector? 

The way a cybercriminal gains access to your device, system or network is called an attack vector. There are many ways that savvy hackers can access these valuable areas using less-than-legal means. They often evolve as users become aware of them and change to mask their true intent.  For instance, achieving unauthorized network access could happen through malware, viruses, email attachments, web pages, pop-ups, instant messages, text messages, or social engineering. These are just a few of the examples of how a hacker could maliciously target your sensitive information and use it to their advantage. According to the Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, one of the most common attack vectors you’ve most likely heard of (or even experienced firsthand) is the phishing scam Phishing can come in multiple forms including email phishing, vishing, spear phishing, whaling, smishing, and search engine phishing to name just a few. 

Types of Phishing 

Phishing schemes come in many varieties from the traditional email phishing scam to more inventive approaches such as vishing and smishing. Here is your quick guide to the types and a brief description of each. 

Email Phishing 

Email phishing schemes are the most common types of phishing schemes and have been around since the late 1990s. These include crafted emails from hackers intended for the recipient to open a link that will give access to sensitive information. In some of these emails, recipients are asked to give access or fill out an “urgent” form while in others the link is what opens them up to an intrusion. 

Vishing Scams 

This form of phishing scam involves “voice” rather than an email, thus the “v” in the title vishing. A voice call or message may alert the target that there is a problem with an account and that the person on the other end of the call needs a credit card number or more information to resolve the issue. 

Smishing Scams 

Smishing involves the use of text messaging or short message service (SMS) to execute the attack. The message often sounds urgent and asks the receiver to click a link to find out more. 

Spear Phishing 

This type of cyber attack targets a certain group such as C-Suite professionals or system administrators. The phishing scam requests information that can be used to access files, networks, or endpoint devices. 


Whaling is an extremely targeted form of phishing that usually attacks the leadership of an organization with links to attach tax information or other urgent data needed to keep the company from defaulting or facing downtime. 

red flag

Red Flags - Spotting Phishing Schemes 

Whether the scam happens via email, voice message, text message or through a search engine, phishing scams can be spotted if you know what to look for.  Here are a few telltale signs that the email or text isn’t what it claims to be. Red flags may include emails, text messages or voice messages that… 

Defending Against Phishing Vulnerabilities 

Since cyber-attacks (and in particular phishing scams) are on the rise, chances are you and your organization will probably run into these on occasion over the coming year. 

User Prevention & Training 

The best way to prevent an intrusion or loss of data is to have ongoing and regular training regarding the latest phishing scams. They seem to evolve and change every year, getting more sophisticated as hackers learn what is effective. Security awareness training for team members from the leadership on down can help organizations deter these malicious links or emails from even being opened. 

Technical Tools 

In addition to training for staff to identify phishing scams before an email, link or attachment is opened, there are technical tools that can also assist in defending against these phishing vulnerabilities. These tools include email filters, multi-factor authentication, and anti-phishing software.  Spectra Networks can help your organization take a proactive approach to handling this top attack vector. Phishing will only get more complex and sophisticated as cyber criminals improve their craft. Talk to our team and get started with training and the technical tools you need to identify and prevent these attacks from happening to your organization.