Phishing scams are one of the most typical types of cyberattacks you may encounter. Cybercriminals benefit greatly from them, as many people fall prey to them each year. Fortunately, because of their prevalence, phishing scams may be avoided if you know how to recognize and avoid them. Here are some easy ways to recognize and avoid phishing schemes.
What is phishing?
Phishing is an attempt to trick people into giving up personal information like usernames, passwords, or Social Security numbers, or to send money to a scammer using a variety of tactics.
Typically, this is done using email, however, text messaging phishing is becoming more popular. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the global cybersecurity organization APWG discovered over 600,000 unique phishing websites. In ProofPoint’s 2020 State of the Phish study, 57 percent of corporate information security professionals stated their firm had a successful phishing attack in 2020.
It’s important to keep a lookout for these scams throughout the year, but particular frauds may increase at certain periods of the year. Phishing for tax information, for example, is frequent around the start of the year, while phishing aimed at shoppers increases around the holidays when many people are shopping for gifts.
Phishing emails share similar features, whether they’re sent to a company executive or a consumer. Learning to recognize the telltale signs that an email is fake, can help you avoid being a phishing victim.
8 ways to prevent being a phishing victim
New phishing attack methods are constantly being created, but they all share several characteristics that may be spotted if you know what to look for. The sooner you learn about the latest attack methods and introduce them to your users through frequent security awareness training, the better your chances of avoiding an attack will be.
1- Check the link
Even if you know the sender, it’s not a good idea to click on a link in an email or instant message. Hovering over the link to see if the destination is correct is the basic minimum you should be doing. Some phishing attempts are highly sophisticated, and the destination URL can appear to be an exact clone of the actual site, with the goal of capturing keystrokes or stealing login/credit card information. You should use your search engine to access the site rather than clicking on the link if you can.
2- Purchase anti-phishing add-ons
Most browsers let you install add-ons that detect signs of a phishing site or warn you about phishing sites. They’re usually completely free, so there’s no reason not to have them on all of your company’s devices.
3- Don’t transfer your information to an unsecured site
If the URL does not begin with “https” or has a closed padlock icon next to it, do not enter sensitive information or download files. Although it’s doubtful that sites without security certifications will be exploited in phishing attempts, it’s better to be safe.
As a general rule, you should not freely give out your credit card information unless you are completely confident with the site you are on. If you must provide personal information, make sure the website, the firm, and the site are all legitimate and safe.
4- Change your passwords on a frequent basis
If you have online accounts, make it a habit to change your passwords on a frequent basis to prevent an attacker from gaining full access. Because your accounts may have been hacked without your knowledge, adding an extra layer of security by rotating your passwords will help prevent further breaches and keep potential attackers out.
5- Don’t ignore alerts
When you get a lot of update messages, it’s easy to get frustrated, and it’s tempting to disregard them. This is not something that should be done. Patches and updates are published for a variety of reasons, the most prevalent of which being to keep up with modern cyberattack methods by closing security gaps. If you don’t upgrade your browser, you may be vulnerable to phishing attacks based on known flaws that might have been avoided easily.
6- Set up firewalls
Firewalls, which act as a barrier between your computer and an attacker, are an effective way to protect yourself from outside threats. Desktop and network firewalls, when used together, can increase your security and reduce the chances of a hacker breaking into your network.
Additionally, an SPF record check can be used to prevent email phishing. The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication system that specifies which mail servers are permitted to send emails on your company’s behalf.
By making it more difficult to mask the sender’s identity, the SPF authentication mechanism is intended to prevent spam and harmful messages. SPF protects against email interception by requiring authorization to send emails on your behalf. SPF boosts user reliability and confidence while improving delivery rates and protecting domain integrity and reputation.
SPF protects your company’s domain from spoofing while also ensuring that emails are delivered correctly. SPF can be used by mail servers accepting emails from your domain to verify that they were sent by your company.
7- Don’t be influenced by pop-ups
Pop-ups aren’t simply annoying; they’re frequently linked to malware as part of phishing scams. Most browsers now allow you to download and install free ad-blocker software that will prevent the majority of dangerous pop-ups automatically. If you do manage to get beyond the ad-blocker, resist the urge to click! Sometimes pop-ups will try to trick you with the “Close” button, so always search for an “x” in one of the corners.
8- Use a data security platform
If you are the unfortunate victim of a successful phishing attack, you must be prepared to recognize and respond immediately. A data security platform relieves part of the stress on the IT/Security team by automatically alerting them to strange user behavior and unwanted file changes. If an attacker gains access to your sensitive data, data security platforms can help you identify the account that has been compromised so that you may take steps to protect yourself from further harm.
Phishing is a type of cyberattack in which scammers use your personal information to steal it. However, there are steps you can do to recognize phishing schemes and protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Since an identity thief does not utilize your personal information right away, it can be difficult to notice that it has been taken. So, try implementing our tips for recognizing and preventing phishing scams.