A Primer on a Cybercriminal Tactic that Steals Data and Money.

Out of all the prevalent cyber threats, Vishing has been quietly infiltrating the digital landscape. Short for "voice phishing attack," it capitalizes on the vulnerability of human communication.
Unlike its text-based counterpart (smishing), vishing employs phone calls to manipulate individuals into exposing sensitive information.

What is a Vishing Scam?

Vishing word is a combination of "voice" and "phishing." In cyber security parlance, it’s a type of phishing attack that involves a malicious actor posing as a trustworthy entity over a phone call to deceive individuals into revealing personal details, such as email address, password, or credit card number.

The basic modus operandi here is using voice communication to trick individuals into providing sensitive information. This deceptive technique often involves social engineering techniques to impersonate legitimate entities, creating a façade of trust that facilitates the extraction of confidential information.

This can occur over a landline, cellular network, or a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system. Depending on the information received from the person, cybercriminals can then initiate numerous fraudulent tactics, such as fake fees for computer repairs or antivirus software.

Vishing vs. Smishing vs. Phishing

Vishing is often confused with widely prevalent crimes – phishing or even smishing. It is a form of phishing attack only. However, there are subtle differences.

Difference between Vishing and Phishing

The primary distinction lies in the medium of communication. Phishing relies on electronic communication, typically emails or messages, whereas vishing leverages voice communication over phone calls. The former infiltrates inboxes, while the latter infiltrates conversations.

Difference between Vishing and Smishing

Smishing, meaning "SMS" and "phishing," involves phishing attacks via SMS or text messages. The difference between vishing and smishing lies in the communication channel – vishing operates through voice calls, while smishing infiltrates through text messages.

What Are the Most Common Vishing Attacks?

Vishing attacks manifest in various forms, each meticulously designed to exploit human psychology. Identity theft and caller ID spoofing are tactics that aid criminals in succeeding.

Some techniques include impersonating financial institutions, government agencies, or IT support, inducing a sense of urgency or panic to coerce individuals into divulging private information.

Here are two of the most common voice phishing examples:

  1. Impersonating Financial Institutions:
    1. Scenario: An attacker poses as a representative from a legitimate bank or credit card company, claiming there is suspicious activity on the victim's account.
    2. Tactic: The vishing scammer convinces the victim to provide sensitive information, such as account numbers, passwords, or PINs, under the guise of resolving the alleged security issue.
  2. IT Support Deception:
    1. Scenario: The vishing scammer claims to be from the victim's IT department or a recognized tech company, asserting that the victim's device has a security issue that needs immediate attention.
    2. Tactic: The caller persuades the victim to follow specific instructions, which may involve installing malware or granting remote access, leading to unauthorized access to sensitive data.

How To Identify a Vishing Attack?

Identifying a vishing attack requires a keen understanding of red flags. Signs include unexpected calls requesting personal or financial information, unsolicited automated messages, or callers creating a sense of urgency.

Trusting one's instincts and verifying the caller's identity are crucial in thwarting these deceptive tactics.

How to Prevent Vishing Attack?

Preventing vishing attacks necessitates a combination of awareness and proactive measures.

Implementing caller verification processes, educating individuals on potential threats, and deploying advanced security solutions are integral steps in fortifying defenses against vishing attacks.

How to Recover from a Vishing Attack?

Recovering from a vishing attack mandates swift action. Individuals who suspect they have fallen victim should immediately change passwords, contact their financial institutions, and report the incident to relevant authorities.

Timely response is pivotal in minimizing the potential fallout from these malicious endeavors.


Q: What is the best description of vishing?

Vishing is the use of voice communication, typically over phone calls, by cybercriminals to deceive individuals into disclosing sensitive information.

Q: What is the primary motivation behind vishing attacks?

The primary motivation is to gain access to sensitive information, such as financial details, login credentials, or personal identification. Cybercriminals often leverage the immediacy and trust to manipulate individuals into divulging information.

Q: How can individuals differentiate between a legitimate voice call and a vishing call?

Legitimate organizations usually do not request sensitive data over unsolicited calls. Individuals should verify the caller's identity to distinguish between a legitimate and a vishing call.

Avoid providing personal information unless certain of the caller's authenticity. Additionally, be cautious of urgent or threatening language, a common tactic to create a sense of panic.