October is Cyber Security Awareness Month.
In this era, phishing attacks represent one of the biggest security threats targeting users of the digital world. Phishing is a way in which scammers get sensitive information. Just like how a fisherman casts a net to catch fish, scammers and hackers send out millions of emails in hopes of catching easy digital users who without knowledge click on the links provided in those emails. Sensitive information that can be gathered through phishing includes usernames, passwords, and e-banking credentials.
Internet services such as online banking, online shopping, and online gaming sites have become a significant part of modern life. Although these services make our lives more convenient and manageable, scammers have found ways to not only get access to users via the Internet but also steal their sensitive information.
Nowadays, kids are participating in digital activities more frequently than ever before. This activity includes online gaming, communication, and schoolwork purposes. However, kids tend to have a less well-developed knowledge of privacy and security concepts when compared to adults. As such, they often become victims of cybercrime.
How to Identify Phishing Attempt
There are several ways to identify phishing. Let’s take a look at some effective ways that will help identify phishing:
- Be suspicious of emails with frequent alerts that inform users about prizes they might have won, even if they have not participated in any contest. Remember, no one gives anything for free.
- Phishers might attempt to drive the user to take a quick decision and warn them about the consequences of not taking prompt action. An example of one such message is “claim this prize within the next 5 minutes or the offer would be gone”.
- Do not trust any email that resembles any of the big companies but contains errors. Many Internet scams are common with grammatical and spelling errors. If you receive messages laden with such errors about a “great deal” or contest, it’s probably a scam.
- Be cautious about opening any attachments or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. Unexpected files may contain malware (short for malicious software, is a kind of software that can be installed on a computer without approval from the computer’s owner).
How to Fight Against Phishing
Some ways that one can join in to fight against phishing are:
- Never type in your personal information or passwords by email
No legit communication will request personal information or ask you to log in to your account and type it there without any kind of links. Limit your public information. The less information you share, the fewer are chances of you being the target for a phishing attack.
- Make sure that the email address uses a secure connection
Stop and review. Look at the email before replying. Is it unexpected? Does the request make sense? You can identify that by making sure the address starts with “https://” where the “s” at the end states that it is a secure website. Modern browsers will display it in green, or even with a green tag with the name of the company in front of the address.
- Do not reply to any text, e-mail, or pop-up messages
Keep your guard up. Sensitive information such as your financial or personal information should not be shared online via text or emails. When in doubt, a good practice would be confirming the information using another method such as phone calling the company.
- Double (or even triple) check the address you are typing
Check the sender’s e-mail address before replying or clicking on links. Since emails can be spoofed, float your cursor over addresses before replying to make sure they are legit. Any correspondence from an organisation should come from that organisation’s email address.
Many web pages are identical to a legit website and might be phishing. Hence, it is vital to thoroughly check the email address before sending an email to it.
Whether it’s a social media account, a website for online shopping, or your online banking access, it is vital to protect your sensitive information before it gets in the wrong hands of scammers.
Remember, when it comes to security, there is nothing for free.
Do not trade your personal information for a freebie.
Do not feed the phish and do not take the bait!
“If you don’t understand viruses, phishing, and similar threats, you become more susceptible to them. If you don’t know how social networks leak information that you thought was private, you’re likely to reveal much more than you realize.” – Brian Kernighan