Seven Tips on Recognizing and Preventing Phishing Scams

September 30, 2020 by Jatheon

Phishing is one of the most common cyberattacks that both individuals and companies face. As the world fast tracks towards the digital age, this type of threat continues to lurk among our inboxes and web pages. It is essential, then, that we are always vigilant against this potential threat.

In a recent Verizon report, 67% of data breaches and identity theft are caused by phishing scams and compromised business emails. This statistic shows the lack of proper awareness and education among internet users on how to prevent phishing and spoofing.

Cyberattacks can come in many forms. And often, it will disguise itself as harmless emails from seemingly reputable companies and sources. This can trick you into thinking that your personal data and other crucial information will be safe in their hands only to find out that you’ve been scammed.

To help you protect yourself from such ploy, here are some tips against phishing you need to know.

1. Know the signs

Education is key to recognizing and preventing phishing scams. Like everyone else, scammers have their recognizable tricks up their sleeves. But sometimes, your spam filters or security measures can miss them entirely. That is why it’s important that you know how to spot red flags within compromised emails, text messages and calls in your inbox.

According to Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report, there are some common signs among phishing emails or scams. The first thing you will notice is the subject lines. The report says that the top five phishing subject lines are urgent, request, important, payment, and attention.

Other signs include incorrect or unusual grammar or punctuation. Phishing scams are also insistent on getting your personal information by feigning alarming situations or urgent deadlines. Others even offer financial rewards or promos. Through proper education and awareness, you can easily avoid falling into the phishing scams out there.

2. Be careful what you click

A seemingly harmless link or attachment may warrant unwanted consequences on your part. The unfortunate part is that you can’t know what’s on the other side of the link or the attachment content without clicking on them first.

Nowadays, clicking on links is unavoidable. However, you must continuously exercise caution before doing so. Scan attachments or links with anti-virus software or other security software before opening them.

Being wary of links is also one of the best practices on how to prevent phishing. Most attacks can usually come from pop-ads in websites that automatically collect your information upon clicking on them.

Shortened links can also be dangerous since it never shows a website’s real name. It can easily trick you into redirecting you into fake, look-alike sites that capture your sensitive data. Likewise, connecting to public networks can have unprecedented consequences without proper caution.

3. Always verify the source

The real danger of phishing is that it lulls its victims into thinking that it came from a legit and reliable source. Often, it disguises itself as a message from reputable brands, banks, companies, and more. Their emails may even have the same templates and headers that official websites have.

Thus, another way to protect yourself from phishing is by verifying the website or company behind the email. A quick web search can easily show you if such a company or website exists.

And in instances where hackers and scammers create a dummy website, there are still some ways you can verify its authenticity. The first step is by checking their URL. It should always begin with “https” with a closed locked icon near the address bar. You can also try checking the site’s security certificate and credentials or have it scanned by your security software.

4. Strengthen your device’s security

Fortunately, there is a wide range of options available for protection against potential cyberattacks. From software programs to built-in tools, you can equip yourself with the right armor and weapons against the threats within the digital space.

For one, you can install antivirus software in your computer or set up an IT security software within your system to fend off possible threats. Likewise, firewalls can block unwanted advances from malicious entities. VPNs can also serve as an extra layer of protection against hackers when surfing the internet.

However, these options might not be enough to protect you against phishing emails or messages. So, you might also want to think about installing an anti-phishing software that can filter your emails accordingly and alert you of red flags within an email or message. A tool like Jatheon Cloud can securely automate your corporate email retention, retrieval, and monitoring.

Man with a laptop in the dark
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

5. Keep a close eye on all your online accounts

Keeping stagnant or inactive online accounts can be risky. You never know when someone out there is already having a field day with it. Some might even use your account to facilitate their phishing activities on the internet.

To avoid such fate, always keep a close eye on all your online accounts. For accounts you haven’t used for a long time, you might want to delete them entirely. Meanwhile, it would be best if you always changed passwords now and then to keep them all secured.

Nowadays, a two-step verification process is almost mandatory for all accounts. It adds another layer of authentication before you can log in to any of your accounts. Likewise, it enables you to monitor login activities through notifications and alerts.

6. Keep everything updated

As more software solutions turn to cloud technology, service providers sometimes release new updates or patches that their clients can easily download. You might not know it, but these updates are essential in reducing the chances of phishing or other cyberattacks.

Hackers and scammers are always changing their methods and modes of attacks. Your service providers’ job is to adapt to them and ensure that you, their user, remain protected against potential threats. These will often be in the form of new security patches or updates for your software.

You should never ignore a new update from your web browsers, security software, and mobile apps. The continuous release of such features shows how much your service providers care for your safety. It shows that they are continually figuring out how to stop phishing emails and other potential attacks from penetrating your system.

7. Never give out personal information

No matter what happens, never give out your personal information online or through text messages or voice calls. In an era where everything is increasingly becoming digital, a healthy dose of skepticism and distrust can get you a long way.

Of course, everyone knows by now that passwords should be guarded with your life. However, some might not know that simple information such as knowing your birthplace or your mother’s maiden name can result in massive data breaches or identity theft.

Thus, it is best that you keep personal information to yourself. If your bank or other official business requires you to give them your personal information, do proper research, and reach out to the organization to ensure their reliability and authenticity.

Be Alert Against Phishing Scams

Despite all the technological advances, phishing remains a big threat for individuals and businesses.

However, lack of awareness and vigilance can harm you as much as a hacker or scammer can. Always keep in mind that your last line of defense will always be yourself. Protect all your personal and business data by educating yourself about the threats in the digital space. Equip all your devices and online accounts with the best phishing protection out there. Most importantly, never give away your personal information to anyone without proper verification and research.

Hackers and scammers won’t be going away any time soon. The best thing you can do right now is to remain vigilant and be aware of these potential threats.

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