It is a dangerous world out there. While you are busy trying to use the internet to help yourself, there is another group of people that are out there trying to get you like a fish on the hook. In 2018, it no longer comes as a surprise to hear that there are cyber criminals looking for your personal data, such as your financial information, so that they can take away your money. What may be surprising though is the fact that more than 87% of internet users are taking little or no action to protect themselves from the dangers that lie on the internet, especially phishing.

In recent years, one of the most dangerous hacking methods hackers are using, is a technique, known as Phishing. This is not new but has gained increased attention in recent years as more internet users fall victim. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about phishing and how you can protect yourself from this danger.

 

What is Phishing Anyway?

Phishing is a trick that online fraudsters use. It involves sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies (ones that you are likely to be using) in order to get access to your personal information such as passwords.

Phishing was used to be carried out over emails. However, this technique has now spread over to social media such as Facebook as companies are now using Facebook for marketing. When a hacker attacks you with this method, he is looking for a “honeypot” which includes your passwords, credit card information, and other personal information.

There is no telling what a hacker can do once he gets his hands on this information. However, they are mostly known to be looking to take away your hard-earned money. But it can lead to more dangerous schemes such as blackmailing among other evil plans.

 

What Does the Statistics Say?

A 2016 report showed that 1 in every 131 emails contained malware. The report also showed that fake invoice messages are the number one type of phishing lure. These hackers will clone a site just like the one you are using and will try to use it to manipulate you into giving them your financial information. It is known that about 1.4 million of these websites are created every month.

In some cases, these people will attack you with a ransomware virus. They will do this do in hope of taking your files hostage and asking you for a ransom to get access to your files.

Some of these scams can take a long period of time. There are instances these hackers will try to build rapport with you, this could take months. They do this to gain your trust and then get you to share sensitive information with them. Another method they use is is known as “BEC or CEO” scams. This is when they impersonate CEO or any member of the top echelon of an organization and try to get an employee, a vendor, or customer of the company to share sensitive information or transfer money. You may have heard the case where an employee of MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was tricked with one of these phishing methods into changing electronic banking information of one of the university’s major vendors, allowing the hackers to have a payday of $11.8 million in July 2017.

Statistics showed that over 400 businesses are targeted by BEC scams every month. According to FBI report, more than $1 billion was lost to this scam between October 2013 and December 2016 by more than 24,000 victims.

It is indeed a dangerous world out there. Whenever you are online, you need to be extremely careful. Below, you will learn of some ways you can avoid being a phishing victim.

Photo of a man's hands on laptop keyboard, reading an email, with a black & white dog besides him.
Avoid clicking on links directly from your email.
Top 9 Ways to Avoid Being a Victim of a Phishing Attack
  • Read Up On New Phishing Techniques

As internet technology continues to evolve, so do phishing techniques. These guys are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tools. A good way to detect phishing is to stay up-to-date with new phishing techniques by following phishing blogs.

 

  • Install an Anti-Phishing Toolbar

There are toolbars now available you can install on your favorite internet browsers. The job of this toolbar is to run a scan of any site you are visiting and compare them against known phishing sites. It will warn you when it detects an anomaly.

 

  • Beware of Emails That Issues Threat Or Try to Force You To Hurry Up

Phishing emails are known to contain threat words or words that will put you in hurry such as “your account will be blocked”, or “I need a reply ASAP”. When you see these types of emails, verify that it is coming from a trusted partner by using other offline methods such as a phone call to verify.

 

  • Keep Your Browser Up To Date

A loophole in your browser is all these guys need to gain some sensitive information. Make sure you keep your browser up to date with security patches.

 

  • Don’t Click On Links

Avoid clicking on links directly from your email. When you want to log on to any site, make sure you log on directly to the site by typing the address on your browser instead of clicking the link sent to your email.

 

  • Scan your Computer Regularly

Get good antivirus software and scan your computer regularly. This is the only way you can detect a virus that may be working in the background gathering sensitive information.

 

  • Verify a Site’s Security

Avoid sites that don’t start with “https”. Before you log into any site, make sure the URL has “https” and has a closed locked icon near the address bar.

 

  • Avoid Downloading Untrusted Files

Hackers are known to send malware through email attachments. Don’t download such attachments. Once you download them, your entire system will be infected and they can gain access to your personal and sensitive information.

 

  • When in Doubt, Verify

Finally, whenever you are in doubt, make sure you verify. If you receive an email that you don’t trust, find a way to verify without replying back to the same email. You can call a third party to take a second look or call other people to verify that the email is real before you act on it.

Conclusion

Phishing attacks are growing and getting more sophisticated every day. You need to start taking action today. Don’t wait to be a victim before you take action. Take caution steps to keep yourself safe online.

What is phishing and how to protect yourself from it

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