As more criminals use online scams to steal personal information, phishing prevention is essential. Although we have learned to avoid spam emails, phishing emails can appear deceivingly plausible. Some of them are personalized for you. You will be vulnerable to phishing attacks eventually so it is important to recognize the warning signs. Although scams are not new to the internet, phishing can be harder to spot than it might seem.
Phishing attacks are a common way for unsuspecting victims to hand over their bank information, social security numbers, or other sensitive data. Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their use of disguises. These scammers can disguise themselves as people you trust such as your bank or coworkers. You could become the next victim of a scammer if you even click on a link.
We’ll be answering some key questions as we explore how to prevent phishing.
- What is Phishing?
- Do I have a chance of becoming a phishing victim?
- What are the most common phishing scams?
- How can I identify a phishing scheme?
- What is phishing email and how can you avoid it?
- What should I do if I have identified a phishing message?
- How can I avoid falling for phishing scams?
What is Phishing?
Phishing convinces you to do something that gives a scammer access your account, device, and personal information. They can infect your computer with malware and steal your credit card details by pretending to represent a trusted organization or person.
These social engineering scams “bait” you to obtain your valuable information. This could include anything, from a login to social media to your entire identity through your social security number.
These scams may ask you to open attachments, click on a link, complete a form or provide personal information. This logic can make it exhausting to be vigilant at all times.
This is the most common scenario:
- You receive an email from your bank and you open it. You are taken to a webpage which looks almost exactly like your bank when you click on the link in the email.
- This site is designed to steal your personal information. This alert will inform you that there is a problem in your account and request you confirm your password and login details.
- Once you have entered your credentials, you will be redirected to the correct institution to complete your information again. You don’t realize that your information has been stolen until they direct you to the legitimate institution.
These threats can be very complex and appear on all forms of communication. Phishing can be deceiving for anyone who isn’t cautious about the smaller details.
Let’s look at how phishing attacks work to help you protect yourself and not become paranoid.
What is Phishing?
Phishing scammers can target anyone who uses the internet and phones.
Phishing scams usually try to:
- Malware can infect your device
- To steal your identity or money, you can use your private credentials
- Take control of your online accounts
- You will be persuaded to send money or other valuables.
These threats can extend beyond you. Hackers can hack into your email and contact list or social media accounts to spam you with phishing messages that appear to be from you.
Phishing is dangerous and deceiving because it requires trust and urgency. You’re an easy target if the criminal convinces you to trust them, and to act before you think.
Who are at greatest risk from Phishing attacks
Phishing can impact anyone, at any age, in their personal and professional lives.
Everybody, from the elderly to children, is using the internet today. A scammer may be able to find your contact information online and add it to their phishing list.
It is harder to hide your phone number, email address and online messaging IDs these days. There’s a good possibility that you are a target just by having one of these. Phishing attacks can target a wide range of people or a specific group.
Spam Phishing is a wide net that’s thrown at anyone who might be tempted. This is the most common category of phishing attacks.
Spam is an electronic version of junk mail that you receive in your mailbox or on your doorstep. Spam isn’t just annoying. Spam can pose a danger, especially when it is part of phishing scams.
Spammers and cybercriminals who are interested in sending spam messages containing Phishing are mass-distributing these spam messages.
- Profitable from the few recipients who respond to your message.
- Phishing scams are used to get passwords, credit cards numbers and bank account details.
- Spread malicious code onto recipients’ computers.
Spam phishing, which is a popular way for scammers to get your information, is also a popular method. Some attacks are more targeted than others.
Targeted Phishing Attacks typically refers to spearphishing, or its most common variant whaling.
Whaling targets high-ranking targets, while Spear Phishing broadens the scope. Targets are usually employees of certain companies or government agencies. These scams are easy to target anyone who is seen as valuable or vulnerable.
Targeted customers of targeted banks or employees of healthcare facilities might target you. Even if you respond to a random social media friend request you could be phished.
These schemes are more difficult for phishers to master. These personalized scams can take some time to create, either for a reward or to improve the chance of success.
These attacks can be built by gathering information about you or your organization.
This information could be used by Phishers to:
- Profiles on social media
- Existing data breaches
- Additional publicly available information
You might be encouraged to act immediately if someone moves quickly to make an attack. You might be able to build a relationship with others for many months before they ask you the big question.
These attacks don’t just involve direct messages and calls; legitimate websites could be hacked for the benefit of a phisher. If you aren’t careful, you could be phished by simply logging into a site that is usually perfectly safe.
It seems that many people are easy targets for these criminals. As these attacks increase in frequency, phishing has become an accepted norm.
What are the most common Phishing Scams?
Understanding what to expect from Phishing is the first step. It can be delivered via all means, including texts and phone calls.
Once you have seen the scam in action, Phishing will be much easier to comprehend. These scams are probably familiar to you and you’ve likely already dismissed them as spam.
No matter how they are targeted, Phishing attacks can take many routes to reach you and most people will experience at least one form of phishing.
- Phishing email is sent to your inbox. It usually asks you to follow a link or send a payment. You might feel that the sender’s email is similar to a legitimate one.
- Domain spoofing can be used by email phishers to impersonate valid email addresses. These scams modify a domain name (ex. @america.com) of a legitimate company. It is possible to fall for the scam by entering an address such as “@arneria.com”.
- Vishing (voice phishing) scammers will call you pretending to be someone or a company in order to deceive and trick you. They may redirect you via an automated message or mask your phone number. Vishers will attempt to keep you on their phone and encourage you to act.
- SMS Phishing (Smishing) Similar to vishing, this scheme mimics a legitimate organization and uses urgency in a brief text message to fool the user. You’ll often find a link or phone number in the message that they want you to use .
- Social media scamming is where criminals use direct messages or posts to lure you into a trap. Some of these are obvious, such as freebies or pages from an unofficial organization with an urgent request. You might be impersonated by others or develop a long-lasting relationship with you before they ‘attack’ to close the deal.
- Clone Phishing is a duplicate of a genuine message, but with malicious attachments and links. This may be seen in emails, but it could also appear in text messages or fake social media accounts.
Other cases might see legitimate websites being imitated or modified via:
- Watering hole Phishing targets sites that are popular and frequented by many. This attack might attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in a site for a variety of other phishing attempts. These schemes are used to deliver malware and redirect links.
- Phishing (DNS-cached poisoning) uses malware to redirect traffic from secure websites to phishing ones. If the victim of pharming is not listed, visitors can still manually type the URL.
- Typosquatting is URL hijacking. attempts to capture people who enter incorrect website URLs. A website could be created with one letter different from the valid one. A malicious website could be created by you typing “walmart”, instead of “walmart”.
- Clickjacking exploits website vulnerabilities to insert hidden capture buttons. These boxes will steal user login credentials, as well as any other information you might have entered on an otherwise secure site.
- Tabnabbing occurs when an unattended, fraudulent page reloads to an imitation of a legitimate site login. You might come back to it and believe it is real, or you may unknowingly give access to your account.
- HTTPS Phishing Gives a malicious website an illusion of security by placing a padlock next to the URL bar indicator. This encryption sign was once only available to sites that had been verified safe. However, it is now accessible to all websites. Your connection and information may be blocked by outsiders but you are already connected to criminals.
You can even lose your internet connection.
- The evil twin attacks are based on official Wi-Fi access at places like airports and coffee shops. This is done to make it easier for you to connect to the internet and to monitor all of your online activities.
Here are some other types of phishing that you need to be aware of.
- Search engine result phishing uses techniques to get a fake webpage to show up in search results ahead of a legitimate one. This is also known by SEO phishing and SEM phishing. You may click on the malicious page if you don’t pay attention.
- Angler Phishing pretends to be a customer service representative from a real company in order to steal your information. A fake help account uses social media to spot your @mentions to the company’s social handles to send you a support message.
- BEC is a method of compromising a company’s email network to obtain sensitive information. This includes pretending to be a vendor or impersonating the CEO in order to initiate wire transfers.
- Cryptocurrency Phishing Targets those who have cryptocurrency wallets. These criminals instead of mining cryptocurrency long-term, they try to steal from people who already have it.
There are many types of phishing attacks, and the list is constantly growing. These are the most popular currently, but new phishing attacks could emerge in a few months.
These scams are difficult to spot because they change quickly to match current events. There are many ways to keep yourself safe. One way is to be aware of the latest scams.
Here are some examples of common phishing schemes
Although it would be impossible to list all known phishing scams here, there are some you should look out for.
Iran Cyberattack Phishing Scams send an illegitimate Microsoft Email, prompting you to log in to retrieve your data and steal your Microsoft credentials. To make it seem plausible, scammers will use your fear of being locked from Windows and the relevance to a current news article.
Office 365 delete alerts is another Microsoft-related scam that can be used to obtain your credentials. This scam email claims that your account has been compromised by a large number of files. You will be prompted to log in, which can lead to your account being compromised.
Notification from bank. This scam tricked you with a fake account notice. You will be sent an email with a link that takes you to a web page asking for your bank information “for verification purposes.” Don’t give them your details. Give your bank a call instead. They may be interested in taking action regarding the malicious email.
An email from a friend. The scam involves a friend who is traveling abroad and requires your assistance. This “help” usually involves sending money to them. Before you send money to your friend, make sure they call you first.
Inheritance/Contest winner email. Don’t get excited if you win something unexpectedly. These emails usually contain scams and require you to click on a link in order to verify your information for prize shipment or inheritance.
A tax refund/rebate. This phishing scam is very popular as many people have annual taxes that they have to pay. These messages usually claim that you are eligible for a tax refund or have been selected to be audited. The scammers will then ask you to submit a tax refund request form or tax form.
Coronavirus Phishing Scams, and Malware Threats
The latest scams to create fear of cybertheft are the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Phishing Scams. The Ginp trojan infects your computer and opens a page offering a “coronavirusfinder” service. This scam lures people to pay for information about infected persons nearby. Criminals will then take your credit card information.
Scammers have been known to pose as important government agencies and even the World Health Organization (WHO). Scammers contact victims by email, often asking for their bank details. In order to infect your computer and steal your personal data, scammers may ask for your bank details or request that you click on a link.
Although these emails and messages look legitimate, if you carefully examine the URL or the email address (by hovering over it again, don’t click it), there are often tell-tale signs they aren’t authentic and should be distrusted (e.g. WHO or government emails sent from a Gmail account). You can find out more.
These scams are not to be believed. These scammers will not ask for your sensitive banking information or personal details. It is unlikely that they will ask you to install an app or program onto your computer. If you get an email or message with this subject, don’t click the links or give out your bank details or personal information. If you are unsure, check with your bank or the relevant authorities. Only use/visit trusted sites and sources.
You should respond to these emails by
- Verify the sender’s email address by looking at their sender — WHO sender addresses use firstname.lastname@example.org. NOT Gmail, etc.
- Before you click on a link, make sure it starts with https://.
- Don’t give out personal information to anyone, not even WHO.
- Don’t panic or rush to react — scammers will use this tactic to get you to click links or open attachments.
- Don’t panic if you have given sensitive information. Contact your bank immediately to change your passwords.
- Report all scams — Go to https://www.who.int/about/report_scam/en/
Phishing emails have a lot in common with real life. These are not always obvious at first, so let’s find out what these red flags mean.
Phishing Emails: How to recognize and avoid a Phishing Email
It is as simple as pointing out any unusual or inconsistent behavior in a phishing email.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between genuine emails and phishing attempts. Before opening attachments or replying to any link, you should slow down.
Here is an example of what you should do if you get suspicious emails:
An email arrives asking for donations to help victims of the latest hurricane. The sender’s domain reads “email@example.com” and though the organization could be legitimate, you haven’t heard of it.
You usually have your spam folder set up to protect you from such emails. However, this email is still sitting at the top.
Computer savvy is a must. You won’t be hesitant to reply to any email asking for financial or personal information. This is especially true if you have not requested it or can’t verify its authenticity.
You’ve taken a crucial step to protect your self by taking a moment to pause instead of immediately taking action. You still need to verify if it is real or fraudulent.
To make a decision, you must know what to look out for in phishing emails.
What is a Phishing Email?
Phishing emails are often so dangerous and successful because they appear legitimate. These features are very common in phishing emails, and should be flagged as red flags.
- Attachments and links
- Spelling errors
- Poor grammar
- Unprofessional graphics
- Verify your email address and other personal information without any urgency
- Instead of your name, use generic greetings such as “Dear Customer”.
Hackers rush to set up phishing websites, which can lead to some sites looking very different from the original. These traits can be used to identify malicious emails in your inbox.
It’s difficult to know what to do if you get a phishing message that isn’t in your spam folder.
How to handle known Phishing Emails
It is important to be vigilant in spotting phishing email. These strategies will help you avoid being a victim to phishing attacks if you have received one of these emails in your inbox.
- Delete the message without opening it. Most viruses are activated when you click on a link or open an attachment. Some email clients allow scripting. This allows you to spread a virus by simply opening suspicious-looking emails. It is best to not open them all.
- Block the sender manually. Note the sender’s email address and add them to the blocked list. This is particularly useful if you share your email address with others in the family. You never know who might find a legitimate email and decide to do something.
- Get extra security. Antivirus software can be purchased to monitor your email.
Remember, blocking or deleting phishing emails immediately is the best way to deal with them. It doesn’t matter if you take additional steps to reduce your vulnerability to these attacks.
You can protect yourself by learning a few more tips.
Tips to prevent phishing
You will be the victim of these phishing emails daily, regardless of whether you like it or not.
These emails are generally filtered automatically by email providers. Users have become quite adept at identifying these types and using common sense to refuse to comply with their requests.
You’ve seen the deceitful nature of phishing. Phishing attacks can also be used to compromise all forms of communication and internet browsing, not just email.
You can reduce your chances of being scammed by following these simple phishing prevention tips.
Protect yourself against Phishing
Internet protection begins with your attitude and behavior towards potential cyberthreats.
Phishing is a technique that tricks victims into providing credentials to sensitive accounts such as email and intranets.
It can be difficult for even the most cautious user to spot a phishing attack. These attacks are becoming more sophisticated and hackers have found ways to make their scams more convincing and can easily fool people.
These are some basic steps to follow when you receive emails or other communications.
- Use common sense before you give out sensitive information. Never click on an email alert from your bank. Open your browser and type the URL directly into the URL field to verify that the site is legitimate.
- Don’t trust alarming messages. The majority of reputable companies won’t ask for personally identifiable information via email. This applies to your bank, insurance company, or any other company with which you do business. You should immediately delete any email asking you for account information. Then, call the company to verify that your account is okay.
- Do NOT open attachments from these strange or suspicious emails, especially Word, Excel PowerPoint, or PDF attachments.
- Do not click embedded links within emails. These can be seeded by malware. Never click on embedded URLs within emails from vendors or other third parties. Instead, go directly to the website and type in the URL address. This will verify your request and allow you to review the vendor’s contact policies and procedures.
- Make sure your operating system and software are up-to-date. This is especially important for anyone still using Windows 10.
Reduce spam to prevent Phishing
These are just a few more tips from Cyber Special security team to help you reduce spam email.
Create a private email account. Only use this address for personal correspondence. Spammers create lists of possible addresses by using a combination of obvious names, words, and numbers. You should make it difficult for spammers to guess this address. You should make sure that your private address is not just your first and last names.
- Your private email address should not be made public on any publicly available online resource.
- You can mask your private address if you have to publish it electronically. This will prevent spammers from finding the address. For example, ‘Joe.Smith@yahoo.com’ is an easy address for spammers to find. Try writing it as ‘Joe-dot-Smith-at-yahoo.com’ instead.
- You should change your private address if it is found by spammers. Although it may seem inconvenient, you can change your email address to help avoid scammers and spammers.
Create a public email account. This address can be used to register in chat rooms and on public forums, as well as to subscribe to mailing lists or other Internet services. These tips can help you reduce spam that you receive through your public email address.
- Your public address should be treated as temporary. There is a high chance that spammers will quickly gain access to your public address, especially if you are frequently using it on the Internet.
- Change your public email address frequently.
- You might consider using several public addresses. This will give you a greater chance of finding out which services are selling your address to spammers.
Do not respond to spam. Many spammers log replies and verify receipt. You are more likely to get spam if you respond more often.
Be careful before you click “unsubscribe”. Spammers use fake unsubscribe letters to try and collect active email addresses. You may receive more spam if you click on the ‘unsubscribe” link in these emails. Unknown sources email messages that contain ‘unsubscribe’ links should not be clicked on.
Make sure your browser is up-to-date. All security patches and updates have been applied.
Use antispam filters. Only use email accounts that have spam filtering. Use an Internet security and antivirus solution with advanced anti-spam capabilities.
The importance of Internet security software vs. Phishing
Installing and using the right Internet security software on your computer is one of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from falling for phishing schemes. Because it offers multiple layers of protection in a single, easy-to-use suite, Internet security software can be vital for all users.
Your security plan should include these elements to ensure the best protection.
Antispam software protects your email account against phishing attacks and junk mail. Anti-spam software can learn over time which emails are junk by using pre-defined denylists that security researchers have created. While you should still be vigilant, the software will filter out any potential problems. Anti-phishing and anti-spam protection are two ways to ensure your computer is protected from malicious messages.
Antimalware is available to protect against other types of malware. Anti-malware software works in the same way as anti-spam software. Security researchers program it to detect even the most sophisticated malware. The software is constantly updated by vendors to keep it more intelligent and better equipped to handle the latest threats. Anti-malware packages can help you protect yourself against viruses, trojans, worms, and other threats.
You can combine a firewall with anti-spam, anti-malware, and anti-spam into one package to provide additional backups to protect your system in case you accidentally click on a potentially dangerous link. These tools are essential to have on all computers because they complement common sense.
Technology is constantly changing. However, you can protect your devices from malware and phishing by purchasing a security package from an established security vendor.
Easy password management
It is important to have virus protection software on your computer. You also need a password manager for managing your online credentials.
It is essential to have different passwords for every website. Malicious attackers can use the credentials discovered to access the internet in the event of a data breach.
Password managers have the advantage of automatically filling in login forms, which reduces clicking. Many password managers also include portable editions that can easily be saved to a USB drive. This allows you to take your passwords with you wherever you go.
Although phishing is a tricky area to deal with, you can reduce your chances of falling prey to scammers by simply following the tips and advice in this article.