If you check your email on a daily basis, you may have witnessed some odd emails reaching your inbox. For instance, an email from your bank asking for credit card details or bank account number to credit the jackpot money you have won. Although tempting, such messages typically are anything but sincere.
Another one is an email from your online shopping site telling you that there was a problem with the last transaction and asking to confirm your credit card details. All of these attempts to trick you relate to phishing. It has been around for years, but people still fall for these scams. Some studies show that certain people are more vulnerable to scams. However, all it takes is one wrong move online, and your assets could be put in jeopardy.
Whatever may be the form of these emails, they not only tempt but entice people easily because it appears real. And if you fall prey to any of them, you may end up paying for something you haven’t bought or lost your sensitive information. So, what to do about this? Let’s read ahead and find out!
How does phishing work?
Apart from the examples mentioned above, there are various ways by which phishing can happen, such as:
- An email asking you to update the password of your social media account or responding to a request on it.
- An email asking you to click on an attachment.
- An email suggests that there is a problem with your delivery or the payment for your parcel. These delivery scams are becoming more and more frequent.
What are the various Phishing attacks?
There is not one but various phishing attacks. Let’s take a look at them in detail and how to defend them.
The first category is a spear-phishing attack. It targets a few people instead of massive audiences. Thus, emails are likely to be personalized to a degree. It uses accurate information about its target to be successful. For instance, it may have every detail about you like name, position, company, work phone number, etc.
So, if an email comes up saying that you are eligible for a special discount on your online shopping site or an invite to avail of some new product launch, such emails carry more weightage since they know everything about you. However, the goal is the same, to get hands-on the personal data of the user. These are most common on social media websites.
This example of a phishing attack is an email that looks like it’s from someone you know. It could be the CEO, Human Resources Manager, or even your IT support department. The message urgently asks for action and has something to do with money transfers, employee details, or installing new software on your computer.
As we are used to these emails, we may never care to check the minor details like the sender’s email, name, number, etc. Thus, we might fall victim to these phishing attempts.
To prevent such frauds, organizations should invest in two-factor authentication methods for financial transactions and also indulge their employees in security awareness training.
The third category is smishing. It uses text messages to trick the user into disclosing their personal information. Usually, it’s a welcome message from your mobile provider or bank.
The message in such cases states that you have been given a gift card of some amount or won money. You are then directed to visit some web page by clicking on a malicious link. This grants permission to the hacker to access all your personal information. The techniques used for phishing are:
- Adding a link to a data-stealing website.
- A trigger to install a malicious app on your phone.
To counteract this issue, users can research the numbers from which the messages come and check with the firm to which the numbers belong.
The next category is voice phishing. It uses voice calls to trick the user into disclosing their personal information. As suggested by its name, voice messages are sent out randomly to make you believe there’s an emergency with your financial institutions.
You receive a call from someone who sounds like your bank or online shopping site, or utility provider employee. The caller asks for your account number and bank PIN to verify some information. You need to be sure not to provide any of this information to any random calling person.
To keep yourself secure, use a caller ID and refrain from receiving calls from unknown numbers.
What to do to protect against Phishing?
There are many ways to protect yourself against phishing, such as:
- Install an antivirus on your device. It will quickly detect whether there are any issues on your device.
- Use an ad-blocker. It might block certain pop-ups containing false and misleading information.
- Do not open email messages from unknown senders. If anything seems suspicious, refrain from downloading files from the received emails. Also, do not open links.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It will ensure that no data can be stolen in transit, even if you visit unsecured websites (like those lacking HTTPS).
- Keep your system updated with all the latest security patches. In many cases, a malicious file might need a certain vulnerability to function.
The more you know about phishing and how to defend against it, the less likely it is that your business will become a victim. Be sure to keep up with security updates from the major service providers.
You can use web filtering tools and take some time out every month or two to review all of your passwords. Not only can this help you avoid becoming a victim, but it also helps protect any other accounts you might have on these services.