What is Trap Phishing? 9 Ways Your Business Can Be Impacted


Phishing is the most common cybercrime, which lures victims towards malicious software or websites via fraudulent email or social media messages. Phishing attacks are often preferred by hackers because of how individuals still fall for them, and the method can yield true results for hackers:

  • Almost 49% of all e-mails sent worldwide in 2022 were identified as spam. 
  • According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2022, cybercriminals targeted 300,497 victims with phishing attacks, leading to losses of over $52 million. 
  • According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Report, 84% of breaches target humans with social engineering strategies. 

Trap phishing exploits the trust between a target and a known brand to trap the victim and lure them toward a malicious link or website. 

In this blog, we will define trap phishing, understand the mechanism of a typical attack, look at different types of trap phishing tactics, and suggest methods you can use to protect your business. 

What is Trap Phishing?

Trap phishing is a sophisticated phishing attack that leverages trust to trick the victim into clicking a malicious link that takes them to an attacker-owned website or downloads attachments infected with malware. 

For example, consider a scenario where you are at work and you receive an email that appears to be from your bank. The sender asks you to click on a link in the email to verify your account information. Several things can happen once you click on the link: 

  • An attachment with malware downloads to your computer and, once installed, gives the attacker access to sensitive information, such as financial data and personal information. The attackers can also use your compromised computer to attack other systems on the corporate network. 
  • You are directed towards an authentic-looking but malicious website and asked to enter your credentials to verify account information. 

Once the attackers have access to sensitive information, they can use it to carry out further attacks, such as identity theft, financial fraud, or ransomware attacks. 

The difference between phishing and trap phishing

Phishing and trap phishing are both types of cyber attacks aimed at stealing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details or bank account numbers.

Phishing involves a hacker sending an email or message that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or social media platform, with the aim of tricking the user into sharing their personal information. The email may contain a fake login page or a malicious link directing the user to a fraudulent website where they are prompted to enter their login credentials.

Trap phishing, also known as spear phishing, is a more targeted and personalized form of phishing. Instead of a mass email, the attacker carefully researches the target and sends a message customized to their interests or job role.

For example, if the target works in finance, the attacker may send a message from a high-ranking employee within their organization requesting sensitive financial information. The message may contain details about the target’s role within the company to make it appear more convincing.

Understanding the Mechanism of Trap Phishing

To protect yourself, it is important to understand how criminals use this tactic. 

Identifying the lure

Attackers study their victims to come up with lures victims would find hard to resist. Typical examples include fake job offers, gift cards, or warnings about security breaches. 

The set-up

After identifying the lure, cybercriminals then set up the trap. They can create a legitimate-looking fake website and send an email that appears to be from a trusted source. They aim to get the target to enter their login credentials or other sensitive information. The trap can also involve a malicious attachment or link in the email that installs malware on the victim’s device. 

Data theft

If a victim falls into the trap of clicking on a malicious link, the cybercriminals can steal their data. The criminals can 

  • Use the stolen information to access the victim’s accounts or steal their identity 
  • Use the compromised device to launch further attacks on other targets
  • Sell the data to other criminals

What Are the Types of Phishing Your Business Should Know?

Criminals use different channels to lure victims and trap them. Technology provides criminals with a host of options for luring and trapping victims. 

Email phishing 

Email phishing is the most common type of trap phishing attack. Cybercriminals create emails that seem authentic: the design and language mirror elements found in genuine emails. They impersonate someone the victim has a relationship with – such as a loved one, the company CEO, or a business partner – and urge victims to click on a link. 


Attackers use vishing, short for voice phishing, by impersonating the voice of a trusted person to get the victim to share personal information or make a payment. AI and ML technologies have made vishing easy: criminals can use AI-based Deepfake Voice technology to impersonate anyone, making it harder for victims to protect themselves. 

Social media phishing

Attackers create fake social media accounts to impersonate trusted business leaders and individuals. Attackers then use these accounts to post links to malicious websites or downloads they control. 

Content injection

Another tactic hackers use is injecting malicious code into a legitimate website. The hackers can  

  • Redirect victims to a malicious website, or 
  • Collect information provided by victims

An example of this attack is when hackers identify a website frequently visited by a company’s employees. The hackers inject malicious code into the popular website to trap visitors. 

SMS/text phishing

Similar to email phishing, attackers also use fake text messages that appear to be from genuine individuals or companies. Links in the message take trusting victims to malicious websites. 

As an example, consider an SMS that seems to be from your bank. The sender urges you to click on a link in the message by using a lure that you are susceptible to. When you click on the link and enter confidential information, the hacker uses it to withdraw money from your bank account. 

9 Ways Trap Phishing Can Hurt Your Business

Trap phishing scams can have serious consequences for businesses. Here are several ways in which it can hurt them: 

  1. Financial loss: Attackers can use trap phishing to trick employees into making unauthorized payments or disclosing financial information that can be used for unauthorized transactions. 
  2. Data breaches: Cybercriminals can gain access to sensitive business data, customer information, or intellectual property, which can be stolen, sold, or used for extortion. 
  3. Reputation damage: Customers, partners, and stakeholders can lose trust in an organization’s ability to protect their data and make secure transactions. 
  4. Operational disruption: Ransomware delivered through trap phishing can encrypt critical files and systems, leading to downtime and productivity losses. 
  5. Loss of intellectual property: Trap phishing attacks can lead to theft or exposure of patents, proprietary software, or trade secrets. 
  6. Customer churn: If a business experiences a significant data breach due to trap phishing, customers can take their business elsewhere, leading to customer attrition and revenue loss. 
  7. Business disruption: If critical employees’ accounts are compromised, it can lead to disruptions in key functions or the inability to access important systems. 
  8. Regulatory penalties: Businesses that fail to protect customer data can face regulatory fines, penalties, legal consequences, and damage to their regulatory compliance reputation. 
  9. Legal liability: Besides regulatory penalties, businesses may face legal liability if customers or partners take legal action following a trap phishing incident, leading to potentially expensive legal battles and settlements.  

How Can You Protect Your Business From Trap Phishing?

Here are preventive measures to protect your business from trap phishing attacks. 

Education and awareness

Targeted and data-driven training is essential to educate your employees about attackers’ tactics. Your employees must be aware of the common types of trap phishing attacks and the methods phishers use to trick victims. Regular training sessions can help your employees stay vigilant and avoid falling victim to these attacks. 

Use of security software 

Security software, such as antivirus and anti-malware, is essential for preventing trap phishing attacks. Using a secure email gateway can help filter out spam and phishing emails. 

Regular updates and backups

Keep your operating system, software, and security software up to date to patch vulnerabilities attackers can exploit. Regularly backing up your important data can help you recover from a phishing attack without losing valuable information. 

Simulated phishing attacks

Use periodic simulated phishing attacks to gauge the effectiveness of training programs and cybersecurity software. These test attacks can help you identify weaknesses in your systems, which you can eliminate. Such measures can also help your business stay updated with attackers’ latest tricks and tactics. 

How can Automation Defend Against Trap Phishing?

In addition to traditional trap phishing attacks, businesses must implement the latest technology that deals with emerging phishing tactics that utilize AI and machine learning (ML) to disguise, speed up, and automate attacks. 

Automation can augment human efforts and provide real-time, proactive security measures to defend against trap phishing. 

At Bolster, we help organizations defend against all phishing attacks by detecting and taking down phishing and scam sites. We will automatically alert your team and initiate takedowns when potential threats are detected.  

To learn more about how Bolster can help your business defend against trap phishing attacks, request a demo with our team today.