How to Know to Recognize a Phishing Attempt?
Phishing refers to using email, voice, video, or text messages to trick users into giving sensitive information about themselves or the organizations they work for. Scammers always look for sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers, or social security numbers. If they get that information, they could access a user’s email, bank, or other accounts and even commit identity fraud. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks daily, and they’re often successful. The Ponemon Institute estimates a business’s average total data breach cost is around $3.86 million. Scammers frequently update their attack strategies, but there are subtle yet consistent signs that can help users recognize a phishing email or text message. Consider reaching out to cybersecurity experts such as IT Support New Jersey for advanced defensive security strategies and advice.
Phishing emails and text messages are designed to inspire trust – they’ll appear to be from companies or people you know or/ and trust. They may look like they’re coming from your bank, credit card company, social networking site, an online payment website or app, or an online store. But they all try to lure you into clicking on links or opening attachments that will give the hackers access to your personal information. As phishing attempts have got more sophisticated than Nigerian princes bequeathing you a million dollars, it has become harder to track them. However, most phishing attacks still carry subtle but consistent cues that users can learn to recognize. These include messages that contain elements such as:
- Proclaim to have noticed suspicious activity or log-in attempts in your account(s)
- Highlight a problem with your account/ billing/ payment information
- Ask you for personal information for an (elaborate) purpose
- Fake bills/ invoices
- Contain suspicious links
- Contains an offer that seems too good to be true, such as hefty government refunds
- Offers free stuff
Quick and Easy Steps to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks
Be aware of phishing strategies
While phishing scams come in many forms and may be more difficult to spot than ever, it’s important to remember that these attacks are not new. Phishing has been around since the early days of the internet when hackers would trick people into giving up their login credentials by posing as a famous brand or service (like PayPal). Today’s scammers use similar techniques but now target employees at large companies instead of individuals—and often impersonate companies’ CEOs for their email to appear more trustworthy.
As with any scam or fraud, you are educating yourself on how phishing works is essential to protect yourself from falling victim to an attack.
Be wary of links
Generally, you should never click on links from unknown sources. This includes email, text messages, and social media posts. Regarding emails, it’s always best to hover your mouse over the link to see where it goes before clicking. If an email is legitimate, there should be no reason for the sender to ask you to click on anything for them to send you something.
If someone you don’t know sends an unsolicited message with a link or attachment (especially if they’re using one of those generic email addresses like “info@”), don’t open it! Chances are good that it contains malicious software that infects your computer with viruses or ransomware.
If something looks suspicious when reading an article online (for example, a bunch of ungrammatical sentences), do not click on any links within the article! Instead, copy-paste each section into Google Translate and check out what comes up—if nothing shows up right away, proceed with caution before clicking on anything else!
Always check the website security
- Check the URL. The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is where you can find the website’s web address.
- Look for the lock icon. On most browsers, you will see a little green or gray padlock next to the website address if it is safe and secure. This means that a trusted third party has verified the SSL certificate, and your information is encrypted when sent to this site.
- Get a second opinion from someone who knows about technology and security, like your IT department, or contacts an expert in cybersecurity such as Managed IT Services New Jersey.
Disable or limit pop-ups
Pop-ups, like phishing attacks in general, are a common tactic used by scammers to get you to click on a link. These pop-ups can be hard to close and may require multiple clicks before disappearing. If you see one of these pop-ups and it looks suspicious or unfamiliar, do not click on it!
Pop-up ads usually appear as if they were an advertisement for something you were searching for or clicking on elsewhere online. Often, they include images that look identical to legitimate advertisements but contain malicious code underneath them. Fortunately, getting rid of pop-ups is easy. All you have to do is disable pop-ups in your browser or only allow ones from websites you trust entirely.
Always use a good antivirus
If you’re looking for a way to protect yourself from phishing attacks, installing reliable antivirus software is the most important thing you can do. Ensure your antivirus software is up to date, installed, turned on, and running. If you aren’t sure how to do these things, consult someone with experience installing and using antivirus software. Experts at Cybersecurity New Jersey are always available to help local businesses with all cybersecurity-related issues.
About Chris:Chris Forte is the President and CEO of Olmec Systems, which provides specialized IT Consulting New Jersey, Atlanta, and New Your City area. Chris has been in the MSP work space for the past 25 years. He earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family. Stay connected via LinkedIn.