What is Vishing?

The following conversation is a real-life scenario of a vishing attack against Wells Fargo clients.

“Hello, this is Wells Fargo’s fraud department. We’re calling to inquire about an erroneous $800 transaction on your account. Could you confirm that you are the account owner before we continue?”

Vishing attackers utilize tens of thousands, if not millions, of different pretexts. 

Most of these pretexts are built on fear, therefore, convincing the victim that they must act swiftly in a time-critical circumstance, similar to phishing.

What is Vishing?

Vishing (a type of phishing but not to be confused with phishing) is a type of social engineering that involves using the telephone to persuade someone to disclose personal information such as passwords, usernames, credit card details, and social security numbers to an attacker.

The attacker will phone and impersonate a family member, coworker, or government official that you would trust. Vishing attackers spoof a phone number or change their voice in some circumstances.

How Does Vishing Work?

In these kinds of cyber scams, the attacker will use a pretext to entice the victim to give information that the attacker desires. A pretext is a prepared narrative (sometimes incorporating prior research on the target) that an attacker can use to gain the victim’s trust, answer their follow-up inquiries confidently, and obtain sensitive information from them. The most frequent vishing engagement format is as follows:

“Hello, I am ______, and I work at the ______ IT help desk. We’re contacting all departments to ensure that they’re ready for the end of Windows 7 support. All users must register for Windows updates. I’ll send you a link to the page where you may sign up for updates.”

This strategy aims to instill a sense of urgency and anxiety in the victim to frantically provide information to the attacker to get the problem solved. For example, the attacker will request the account’s email address, after which the victim will prove their identity by reading a 6-digit number delivered to their phone. So, what’s going on is that the codes given to the phone are to reset the account password, change the account’s settings, and transfer money. 

The attacker is on their computer, attempting to access the victim’s account using the authentication codes. While communicating with the attacker, the victim frequently uses the mobile phone on which the codes are received and may ignore the text messages that follow them. Once the attacker gains access, he can review previous transactions to gain the victim’s trust and persuade them to divulge even more information.

Furthermore, during business hours, various vishing calls would go to an employee of a company. For example, suppose a non-technical employee receives this call, and the attacker uses a lot of technical jargon. In that case, they may comply because they don’t fully comprehend the situation from a technical standpoint. 

With this vishing pretext, we have a lot of success. If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing you can do is tell the caller you’ll call them back, hang up, and dial the IT help desk number that your company has on file to ensure you’re speaking with the right people.

Examples Of Vishing

Given the wide range of situations in which this scam occurs, there are numerous methods and examples. Vishing attacks are not just limited to eliciting a response through phone calls; they may send text messages or leave voice mails stating something along the lines of “Your bank account has been disabled for some reason. Please get in touch with us to have your account reset.”

These messages and calls cause panic and anxiety, leading to the victim dialing the number and providing the requested information. As part of their vishing techniques, these con artists make loan and investment offers. These days, tax scams, social security scams, and other types of vishing attacks are all too common.

Do you know nearly half of your phone calls are spam? One of the most common vishing attacks going around for a long time is phone calls informing you that you have won a prize or a hamper and must call a specific number to claim your prize. The majority of the time, these scam calls are made by automated voices. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making vishing calls. Voice cloning, phone fraud, VoIP spam, and other types of vishing scams are just a few of the most common types.

Common Types of Vishing Techniques

In the world of vishing scams, there are many different techniques and tactics. The attackers use a variety of primarily automated shotgun attacks aimed at a variety of potential victims in the hopes of getting a few bites of laser scams aimed at a specific, high-value target. The four most common techniques are listed below.

Wardialing

‘Wardialing,’ the most common vishing method, involves making hundreds or thousands of automated calls to hundreds or thousands of numbers. The potential target (or their voicemail) may receive a recording threatening to call the scammers back. The visitors also claim to be from a government agency, a bank, or a credit union. Wardialing usually focuses on a specific area code and uses the name of a local institution to find actual customers.

VoIP

Malicious hackers can use VoIP to create and hide behind false phone numbers. For example, some cybercriminals can create VoIP numbers that appear to be from the government, local hospitals, or police departments. These numbers are complicated to trace and can be used to generate phone numbers that appear to be local or have a 1-800 prefix.

Caller ID Spoofing

In this vishing attack, the hackers hide behind fake phone numbers/customer IDs, similar to VoIP. For example, they may use an alias or claim a legitimate phone call from the government, the tax office, or the police.

Dumpster Diving

Digging up dumpsters behind banks, office buildings, and other random organizations is a simple way to collect valid telephone numbers. Hackers may be able to gather enough relevant information to carry out a vishing attack on a victim.

Aside from the four standard vishing techniques mentioned above, another variant involves your OS issuing a warning about technical problems via pop-up windows on your computer screen, which are frequently generated by malware. The victim is prompted to call “Microsoft Support” or something similar and is given a phone number. This action puts them in touch with the visitor, who gets the information out by using a combination of accurate and automated voice responses in the conversation.

How To Recognize Vishing Scams?

The most effective way to avoid vishing calls is to ignore them. On the other hand, new and advanced methods do not allow people to determine whether or not a call is a scam. As a result, it would be prudent to decline such loan and prize offers that require no prior information or participation on your part.

Scammers are quick to persuade you to share your credit card information or other sensitive information. To avoid such scams, this type of fraudulent behavior should not be overlooked. The first thing these attackers do is ask you to confirm your personal information, which allows them to gain access to every fundamental detail about you that they can and will use against you in the future.

As a result, a preventative measure would be to refrain from disclosing personal information during phone calls with strangers. As a result, it’s critical to understand what constitutes phishing in the context of cybercrime. In addition to knowing how to look for red flags and phishing schemes, you can also:

  1. Get yourself added to your national do-not-call list: It is entirely free to add your home or cell phone number to this list and inform telemarketers that you do not wish to be contacted by them. However, some entities, such as charities and political parties, may still call you, and it won’t stop people from dialing your number illegally.
  2. Avoid calls from unknown numbers: Allow them to communicate voicemail, even if each phone call is enticing. Caller IDs can be faked, which means you have no idea who is calling. Go over your texts and decide whether or not you want to call the person back.
  3. Hang up: If you suspect a phone call is a scam, don’t feel obligated to continue a polite conversation. Instead, hang up and put that number on your do-not-call list.

Suppose you are a victim of a vishing attack. In that case, the first step to recovery is to contact your financial institution, especially if you share your financial information with someone you later suspected of being a scammer. Next, call your credit card issuer, bank, or Medicare contact to request the cancellation of fraudulent transactions and block potential transactions. 

To ensure that others do not use your current accounts, you must update your account credentials. Furthermore, you have the option to freeze your credit cards immediately. Your credit reports will be frozen, ensuring that no one can open new accounts in your name. Final and the most crucial step is to go to the local police station or your Cybersecurity regulatory agency to file a complaint.

Final Words

Vishing has become more common as a result of various digital and technological advancements. However, the most critical step in preventing this is to be aware of phishing and vishing signs, how they work, and the precautions you should take to avoid them.

With Right-Hand Cybersecurity, you can educate your workforce about all types of cyber threats, including phishing, vishing, smishing, whaling, and other recurrent scams. Spreading awareness and educating your employees is critical because many people are unaware of such attacks and get into trouble. 

Schedule a demo today and get one step closer to having a cyber-ready workforce!

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