How to recognize a phishing attack and stay safe online
Every internet user, at some point in their online lives, has received a scam email. Most of them are easy to spot, as they usually have obviously not originated from the company they are pretending to be from. They might have a spelling mistake in them, they might have a questionable link, or you might not have heard from the company in a while.
Either way, a scam email is generally passed off as a laughable and overt attempt at stealing bank details or getting other types of sensitive data. But these are mainly just stereotypes.
Scammers and cybercriminals are becoming more and more advanced, and these laughable attempts at scamming are a thing of the past. Meaning that the threat of a cyberattack is far more difficult to detect and dangerous than you might have first thought.
How to recognize a phishing attack
The best thing you can do to identify a phishing attack is a simple double-check. For example, if you get an email from a company you don’t often hear from stating that your subscription has ended or your account has been compromised, it’s always good to check on the company’s actual website to double-check.
If nothing rings true, place the email in the spam folder of your inbox and report it. To learn more about scamming emails, click here.
However, there is more to phishing attacks than the occasional suspicious email. Having accounts hacked and messages sent to your contacts and friends on social media asking for money are also common phishing attempts. Most of the time, you aren’t even aware that this has happened until one of your contacts sends a message alerting you of this ‘out of character’ message.
How to stay safe
You can prevent and deter some forms of phishing attacks. Some forms of protection need more professional levels of expertise, such as network security and data protection, but most of the time, it’s down to the end-user to keep their data safe. Here are some things that you can do to minimize the risks of a phishing attack:
Never give out any kind of personal information online. Usernames are there for a reason. Don’t give away your address, details about your life, or pets’ names, as hackers and cybercriminals might use this information to guess potential passwords for your accounts. If they have other information on you, this might be the last bit of data they need to infiltrate a social media account or otherwise. Worse still, they could steal your identity and use it to apply for a loan, for example.
Change passwords frequently. This might seem like a tedious task, but changing passwords can stop any unauthorized access. Using a random password generator can be good way to get passwords that aren’t related to you or your sensitive personal data.
Only sign up for email subscriptions to services you frequently use. This means that if you get any other subscription emails, you can mark them as suspicious.