As technology is becoming more advanced and common, online hackers and scammers have improved their craft. One of the most common types of scams these days are credit card and personal information scams, and the most common ways these are done are through phishing attacks and phishing scams.
Phishing is a scam in which hackers with malicious intent try to impersonate realistic organizations through text messages, emails, and even advertisements to get a hold of sensitive information that can be used against you.
The most common occurrence is when the hackers provide a link underneath the message, asking you to provide your information for their websites. However, these websites are nothing more than fake, and the information you provide goes to the hackers who make these phishing links.
One may think that after reading the description of a phishing link, it may be easier to identify one. However, it is not that easy because there are multiple types of phishing attacks that one can fall victim to.
Normal Email Phishing Attacks
Email phishing is one of the most common and well-known ways of phishing. As mentioned above, this is a method in which scammers send you an email pretending to be a legitimate organization to get information from you. This isn’t an attack that only targets a specific person but can also be conducted on large numbers of people.
Malware Phishing Attacks
Malware phishing is similar to normal email phishing, as it is also random links sent to people. However, instead of asking for your information directly by pretending to be a legitimate organization asking for information, these are links that ask you to download or click on certain links, which then proceed to download malware on your device.
Spear Phishing Attacks
Unlike the phishing methods mentioned above, spear phishing does not target masses of people. Instead, spear phishing attacks usually target popular individuals such as politicians or celebrities. Once sensitive information is stolen from such people, hackers will continue to blackmail the victims for money or other things that can benefit them in exchange for not selling or leaking this private information.
How To Spot An Attack
One of the main ways you can avoid a phishing attack is by identifying and defeating the various types of phishing attacks. You should be very careful about security when it comes to sensitive information that you are storing online or on your computer.
Most phishing attempts are made through the most basic phishing method, which is email phishing. There are many ways a scammer can send you a phishing email to get you to entertain their requests.
Some of the main scenarios these cybercriminals create when they are conducting a phishing attack are:
Fake Shipping Or Delivery Notifications
Many of these phishing attempts consist of scammers who trick users into thinking that they have ordered something online and they need a person’s information to deliver the package successfully. In most cases, these hackers would conduct phishing scams by posing as legitimate websites and then try to get a person’s private details such as credit card details and social security.
Fake Purchase Confirmations And Invoices
Another popular phishing scam is to get a person’s bank account and payment information by sending fake purchase confirmations and fake invoices to consumers to trick them into thinking they owe the organization money. However, these are not organizations but phishing scammers with malicious intent.
The main demographic for such phishing scams are usually people over the age of forty. Many statistics show that individuals around this age group are much more prone to such scams. This is one of the main reasons why scammers use psychological tactics to make the victim feel comfortable.
Many known phishing sites promote events or giveaways that promise extremely attractive rewards. However, to receive these rewards, you often have to sign up using your accounts and by putting in sensitive information. This is something that most security software cannot detect.
Therefore you must be careful when identifying whether these giveaways are phishing scams. Many of these giveaways will also ask you to input your sensitive information, saying that you have won something. However, in most cases, people who get scammed in these situations usually have not even entered such giveaways because the notifications saying you have won a reward are usually fake.
How To Stop Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are one of the main attempted phishing attacks and one of the most common phishing techniques that cybercriminals use to steal sensitive information pretending to be a legitimate site.
There are various ways one can protect themselves from phishing emails. One of the best and most effective methods is using email filtering. Email filtering can be very useful in protecting you from phishing emails, as they filter out harmful and malicious emails from your inbox. A good email filtering or security software can filter out 99% of the suspicious emails in your inbox.
Email gateways also have the ability to identify when your accounts and inbox have been compromised. This can be useful to prevent attempts at business email compromise and stop your accounts from being used as mediums to send out further phishing emails to your contacts.
Security Awareness Training
While antivirus and security software is important to prevent phishing attacks, it is also very important to understand security properly. Therefore, security awareness training is important for each individual.
Due to the number of phishing threats increasing and cyber criminals evolving their methods of scamming daily, one needs to be well educated on cyber security and methods to prevent phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks usually exploit human errors in order to succeed at their purpose, which is to exploit you for monetary gain as much as possible. They don’t try to bypass security software most of the time but rather rely on human mistakes.
This is why most scammers use clever psychological tactics where they manipulate their targets into getting the information they want.
Therefore, it can be said that the use of antivirus software or security software can stop not all phishing attacks or attempts. That is why security awareness training is given to individuals in an organization.
These security awareness vendors often teach users how to avoid phishing scams, such as enabling two-factor authentication, not resetting passwords, and not clicking on malicious links, which can lead to data breaches and the chance for scammers to gain access to your passwords.
What Can A User Do To Prevent Phishing
The best way a user can avoid phishing is by being alert to what goes on other computers. One of the easiest ways to target consumers is through pop-ups on user-friendly websites or other websites, which users are most statistically proven to visit on a daily basis. These pop-ups can then prove to be fairly harmful to your computer as they download malicious attachments or malicious code.
Another great way to prevent phishing attacks on your email is to identify if an email is a normal or phishing email. Most phishing emails can be easily identified as they usually have a generic greeting such as ‘dear customer’ and multiple grammatical errors. The grammatical errors are the easiest to identify.
Moreover, it is also best not to click the links in such emails, even if they seem like links to a genuine site. As mentioned above, these links can lead to credential theft and much more.
Reducing Spam To Avoid Phishing Scams
A useful tip that cyber security experts give is that you should set up a private email address to increase your protection and decrease suspicious activity. As mentioned above, email threats are becoming increasingly important, which is why email security is vital to increasing your data security.
Once you have set up a private email address, you should not publish your email address to websites that publicly access your sensitive data. This is why it is important to protect your online accounts, as they can become a victim of a phishing scam anytime.
Another important thing to note is that you should always consider using a phone number with your email account. This is necessary because many email providers give you the ability to turn two-factor authentication on to keep track of where and when your account has been logged into at all times. Thus, reducing security threats.
Constantly Change Your Passwords
Another useful tactic can be to constantly change the passwords associated with your online accounts since it is considered a general cyber protection rule. Doing this puts you at a lower risk of getting hacked.
In conclusion, if we consider all the advice currently being given to basic users and large corporations, we can conclude that online scams are becoming quite normal as everything slowly gets digitized. Therefore, it is highly necessary that you are able to stop phishing attacks such as phishing email attacks. As we have mentioned above, there are many different ways scammers can try to get access to your data online.
Some may be hard to identify, but the most common ones can easily be identified if you are properly educated and aware of them.