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How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams?

3 August 2021

Can you spot a phishing email if you receive one? Scammers often send emails or text messages to victims in an attempt to trick them into disclosing sensitive information. And if you're not paying attention, you can get hooked. So what is phishing and how to avoid it?

What is phishing?

Phishing is a criminal activity in which scammers use harmful emails, phone calls, or text messages to gain private information such as account login data or credit card numbers. Hackers have replaced the letter f with the letter ph, so the term "fishing" has become "phishing". The behavior of phishers is predictable. They normally aim to acquire the following information from you:

For example, you might receive an email purportedly from your bank or credit card company informing you that there are concerns with your account that require quick action.

The following are telltale signs of fake mail:

No one will ever ask for your Social Security number, card PIN, or CVV2 code via email, phone, or text message from your bank, credit company or any other law-abiding entity.

You can easily check if everything is in order by entering into your account via the app or online version directly from the browser, not via the URL they supplied. Once you've logged in, you'll be notified if there are any actual concerns.

Finally, because they are usually written and delivered by people who have poor knowledge of English, such emails frequently contain grammatical errors, typos, or strange terminology.

Types of phishing attacks

Let's find out ten most common phishing techniques scammers use for user acquisition:

Spear phishing

Spear phishing is a type of phishing attack that targets persons who have access to sensitive company data. Such email scams may pretend to originate from one of your coworkers or superiors who requires access to sensitive information. In contrast to phishing, which targets a broad audience, spear phishing targets a specific type of target.

During this type of phishing, a fraudster can target an HR employee, or someone from the IT department who has access to a whole company database. To avoid it, make sure your employees know how to deal with the data they have under their disposal during the employee onboarding process in your company.

Clone phishing

When fraudsters mimic an email sent by a bank, this is called clone phishing. Crooks insert a malicious attachment or link into an official email and send it to a list of bank customers as a reminder, hoping to deceive them into divulging vital information.

Whaling

Chief executive officers, chief operating officers, and other high-ranking executives are the targets of whaling attacks. The idea is to dupe these individuals into handing over the most sensitive corporate information. These attacks are more sophisticated than standard phishing scams. They mainly rely on phishing emails that appear to be from trustworthy internal sources or authentic outside agencies.

Pop-up phishing

Pop-up phishing is also known as in-session phishing. When a pop-up appears, people are usually clicking or visiting a website when it asks them to complete a survey or perform another activity. Their gadget becomes infected after they click the pop-up.

Alternatively, the pop-up may warn the victim that their website has experienced a viral attack and that they must instantly install certain antivirus software. When victims install it, their computers are infected with malware or adware.

Vishing

Vishing occurs when thieves call you and ask for personal information. They often make themselves appear official by impersonating bank or insurance company employees in order to make you feel comfortable disclosing your personal information with them.

Smishing

Smishing is the practice of phishing via SMS (Short Message Service) or text messages. Look for misspellings or typos in case of smishing. Messages that sound unprofessional are frequently a red sign as well.

Search engine phishing

Fraudsters create fake websites that look just like the real ones in order to steal your login information. They use Google Ads to promote such websites by highlighting them in search engine results for popular searches.

Pharming or DNS poisoning

Using the internet DNS, pharming redirects legitimate traffic to a fake web page in order to collect sensitive personal information (Domain Name System). This type of phishing is often used in social media management where huge traffic can be directed to a fake website using social media.

Man-in-the-middle

The most common method of attack is setting up free Wi-Fi networks in areas like airports, stations, hospitals, coffee shops, and other places where individuals may need to make quick online purchases. Your credit card information is taken if you connect to such a network and make a purchase.

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

This is the most dangerous sort of spear phishing scam. It frequently comes from supposed "executives" and encourages employees to make modest transactions like gift card purchases as soon as possible. BEC accounted for over half of all cybercrime-related financial losses in 2020, according to the FBI.

How to avoid phishing scams?

1. Do not open emails that appear to be suspicious.

If you get an email that seems to be from a financial institution but has a suspicious subject line like "Account suspended!" or "Funds on hold," delete it. Log in to your account or call the bank directly if you are concerned that there is a problem. Once you've logged in, you'll be able to see if there's an issue with your bank account or credit card.

2. Do not click on links in emails that appear to be suspicious.

If you receive an email from someone you don't know and it instructs you to click on a link, do not do so. These links will frequently redirect you to fake websites that will ask you to supply personal information or click on links that may install malware on your device.

Sending financial information over email is not a good idea. Your bank or credit card company will never request bank account data, Social Security numbers, or passwords via email.

3. Pop-up ads should not be clicked.

Hackers can insert deceptive messages into even the most legitimate websites. Often, the pop-ups will inform you that your computer is infected and direct you to call a phone number or install antivirus software. This is a temptation to avoid. Scammers use these ads to either install malware on your computer or trick you into paying for a computer clean-up service that you don't need. Especially if you’re a business, teaching workers how to properly use data is a part of your employee management strategy for the long-term.

4. Make use of spam filters.

Spam filters can stop emails from shady sources.

5. Implement antivirus protection.

Make sure you have multi-layered security software installed on your computer. To keep your data protected, use sophisticated cybersecurity software. Effective security software provides an additional layer of protection and peace of mind.

6. Enable multi-factor authentication (2FA)

For your online accounts, enable multi-factor authentication (also known as 2FA). Along with entering the password, you'll be asked to input a security code texted to your phone with 2FA. It takes a little longer, but it makes your account much more difficult to hack. Enable 2FA for your social media accounts, bank and Ripple accounts or any other global payment solutions.

7. Use a password manager

Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords. You may log in without storing a paper copy of your passwords with these apps.

8.

8. Surf Web anonymously with a VPN

Browse securely with a trustworthy VPN. By encrypting any information you send, you can disguise your location or transaction data when you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It's similar to sending an encrypted message over the internet, with only the intended recipient has the key to decode the code and gain access. Phishers and other hackers will be unable to track your online actions as a result of this.

9. Install and run trusted security software

Installing and running trusted security software can help you protect your personal files and financial information from phishing attacks and other scams by providing real-time threat protection, assisting you in creating and managing unique passwords, and protecting your personal files and financial information from phishing attacks and other scams.

How to recover after responding to a phishing email?

What if you clicked on a malicious link by accident? Or if the phisher managed to mislead you?

Notify the credit reporting agencies: Visit the websites of credit bureaus, and notify them that you've been a victim of phishing. To ensure that fraudsters cannot register new credit accounts or take out new loans in your name, you should freeze your credit with each of the credit bureaus.

How to protect yourself from phishing attacks?

Although the methods used by online criminals to attack internet users are continuously changing, there are several precautions you may take to defend yourself from phishing attacks:

Conclusion

When you get an email that appears to be a phishing attack, keep the following in mind:

Finally, all you need is a little common sense and the ability to avoid acting on impulse. Preventing phishing requires far less effort than dealing with the consequences.

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