In this modern era, the Internet has proven to be one of the most incredible inventions: offering us several conveniences such as communication, e-commerce, remote working, and access to large amounts of information.
But behind every sweetness is a tinge of bitterness, and when it comes to using the Internet, data breaches are the primary dark side.
Cybercriminals can harvest your private information, such as your name and address, and use it for their benefit (identify theft). Also, If you use a credit card to shop online, they can steal your credit card information and use it to control your finances.
How can they pull this off? Mainly through phishing scams. According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 90% of breaches included a phishing element.
Hackers use email, phone calls, social media, and other communication channels to trick people into giving out valuable information.
Phishing messages often contain embedded links that redirect people to a cloned website that requests sensitive data. Or a malicious attachment that allows the hacker to exploit loopholes and obtain sensitive information
This form of cyber attack is a popular security challenge that people and corporate organizations face nowadays.
Individuals and businesses spend countless millions of dollars every year to keep their information secure. Unfortunately, at the same time, cybercriminals are updating their tactics.
But there are some common patterns with these attacks that will help you identify them and avoid taking the bait whether you’re looking to prevent phishing in an organization or how to protect your credentials.
How to Spot Phishing Scams
The Message Is Sent From a Public Email Domain
Email phishing includes fake notifications from a company you know or trust, such as banks, e-payment systems, online stores, social networks, or email providers.
No legitimate organization will send emails from an address that ends ‘@yahoo.com’. Instead, they will have domain emails corresponding with their domain name.
Most people only look at the sender’s name and subject line before jumping straight into the message and its prompts. This act is risky.
Moreover, legitimate companies will not send you an email asking you to input your login details, credit card information, or tax numbers. If you’re not sure of the sender, visit the company’s website directly (not through the embedded link in the email) and try logging in from there.
Misspelled Domain Name
Another common trick cybercriminals use in baiting their victims is through misspelled domain names. For example, PayPal.com may be misspelled as PqyPal.com.
An Internet user who fails to check the sender’s domain thoroughly may be fooled into following an embedded link to the phishing attack website, believing that the message is from a legitimate company.
Whenever you receive such messages that prompt a response, check the sender’s email and ensure that it contains no alterations.
Poorly Written Email
Legit companies know how to spell. So lousy grammar and punctuation in a message can be a strong indication of a phishing scam.
Sometimes, emails with mistakes are probably from people who don’t speak the primary language of the email. Other times, these “mistakes” are intentionally included by design to discourage responses from discerning individuals and prey on the less observant, naive targets.
The Message Creates a Sense of Urgency
Have you ever received messages with headlines such as “Warning! You will lose your email permanently unless you respond within seven days” or “Congratulations, you’ve won a free ticket“?
Scammers often tell a captivating story to trick people into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. This format works mainly with bespoke emails being sent to well-researched victims. (Learn more about spear phishing vs phishing differences here).
They may ask you to confirm some personal information to avoid suspending your account or that they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or login attempts on your account.
Sometimes, they could offer a coupon for a free item or announce your eligibility as a public fund beneficiary. If the message comes with such clickbait titles, ultimatums, or offers too good to be true, it’s likely a phishing scam. Instead, verify the sender’s email address or visit the company’s official website.
3 Ways to Protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks
Cybersecurity cannot be overemphasized, so it’s a good idea to add extra layers of protection. Here are three phishing prevention tips you can apply today to protect your business from phishing attacks.
Protect Your Computer Using Security Software
High-quality antivirus software utilizes unique signatures to protect your computer systems against known technology workarounds and loopholes. Unfortunately, new scams emerge all the time, so keep all systems current with security software that updates automatically to deal with any new security threats.
Protect Your Accounts With Multi-factor Authentication
One of the most efficient phishing prevention tips is using multi-factor authentication (MFA) to safeguard our online accounts. MFA enhances your digital security by requiring additional credentials to log in to your account.
So even if a hacker has successfully acquired your data, they’ll be unable to use it since there’s an extra security layer. This additional security layer could be a fingerprint, a passcode, or an answer to a personal security question.
Protect Your Data by Backing It Up
Every year, the number of ransomware attacks on businesses’ databases increases. To avoid falling victim to any of these attacks, business owners should ensure a consistent backup mechanism for all workstations, servers, and data centers. Either on physical hard drives or with cloud storage.
These phishing prevention tips can help you improve your digital security when you apply them with diligence. However, some security procedures might be too ambiguous and time-consuming for nonprofessionals; hence soliciting expert help wouldn’t be a bad idea.
With over two decades of experience in IT and financial security, Triada Networks have developed reliable cybersecurity solutions to help businesses thrive amidst the rampant data breaches on the Internet.
We offer top-notch solutions for everything from malware defense and disaster recovery to data backup and cloud security services.