How to Protect Yourself from a Phishing Attack

A phishing attack is when a cyber criminal attempts to trick victims. The attack aims to reveal potentially sensitive information. They may target names, addresses or login and banking account information.

Understanding Phishing Emails:

You may have received phishing emails in the past, but they’re challenging to spot. They usually come as fraudulent emails posing as familiar companies like your bank. Scammers may pose as shipping companies or online retailers as well. And may ask you to enter your information to confirm your details or something that seems insignificant. These emails are often well hidden and will contain matching graphics to your regular provider’s. These fake emails may include a legitimate logo, matching style, layout, and typeface. Some of these emails are disguised cleverly as legitimate messages. They are making you more likely to give the cybercriminals the information they want. The email may include an urgent reason to click on the link. Or phone the number included in the email. Taking you through a fake authentication process similar to the company they’re replicating. Be wary of these fakes, as they will give you any login information you enter to log into your real accounts.

How to Identify a Phishing Email

Due to how readily available information has become, it has become harder to spot phishing emails. They’ve become more and more convincing. But there are tell-tale signs that will tell you whether the email you’ve received is from a legitimate source.

Email Senders Address

If you receive a phishing email, it will likely come from a name such as “Royal Mail”. But once you click the name to see the email address, it looks like royalmail13572@gmail.com. It’s a clear indicator that the email is not legitimate. And you should delete the email promptly. A genuine email from Royal Mail would look more like no-reply@royalmail.com. It is possible to receive a phishing email from one of your contacts. Hackers can spoof your email account if you don’t have the correct security settings in place. Contact your email hosting provider if you become a victim of spoofing. And enquire about email spoofing precautions. In the event, you receive a suspicious email from a known sender’s email address. They may have had their account hacked without their knowledge. And a cybercriminal could use that person’s account to send phishing emails to everyone in their address book. We recommend you contact the person/company via phone to alert them.

Email Subject Line

Examine the text in your e-subjects before opening them. Phishing emails want to alert you and cause anxiety. The emails may contain “WARNING” or “URGENT”. Or something similar to cause you stress so that you act without thinking. Usually, the subjects are informal and may need to be clarified. It’s best to err on caution and delete it if it seems suspicious.

Email Content

Email text within a phishing email will be text designed to scare the reader. To put them in a vulnerable position to get them to hand over their information. It’s usually alarming news that requires you to take a specific action. Or you will suffer inevitable negative consequences. Such as inputting your account information, or you will face a fine. Phishing emails are sent to many contacts at once in most cases. It may not contain any specifics, such as your name or location. Look for broad welcome messages such as “Good Day” or “Dear Valued Customer”. General welcome messages indicate that this email is phishing; you should delete these messages promptly. There may be odd instances where you get addressed by name.

Different Types of Phishing Attacks

Phishing has moved on from being exclusive to email-based scams. Scams in the modern world come in through SMS, social media, phone calls and letters. Below are some examples of how phishing has evolved and how to protect yourself.

Vishing

Vishing is a form of phishing that takes place as a phone call and is becoming increasingly common. These cyberattacks intend to retrieve information for more organized groups to carry out further attacks. Due to the more trusting nature of a phone call than an email, scammers may try to deceive you into moving funds from a bank account. Or they may claim you’ve faulted on a payment, and they need to verify your credit card information. Only answer calls you expect from recognized callers to prevent these attacks. Your bank would not contact you and ask you to verify your information.

Smishing

Smishing is similar to phishing but is the means of contact through SMS messages. And it contains links or alarming statements to garner a particular response. Please do not click the link or reply to the message; delete it.

Conclusion

In a digital world, the threat of phishing attacks remains. As these deceptive tactics evolve, our awareness and knowledge must keep up. The key to defence against phishing lies in education and alertness. Recognize the signs of phishing attempts to stay safe. You can safeguard your personal information and digital assets. Always approach unsolicited contact with caution. And verify sources before sharing any sensitive information. Through shared knowledge and vigilance, we can thwart the intentions of criminals. And maintain the integrity of our digital spaces.

Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I have 20 years of experience in the IT industry. I have worked as a security analyst, trainer, and writer at Synergy-UK for over ten years.

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