Simple Tips On How To Avoid Phishing Attacks
Phishing emails have become both a nuisance as well as a serious threat today. One can see all kinds of annoying spam emails flooding the inbox. These emails have one thing in common, their primary goal to siphon sensitive information unethically – by fooling or threatening the victim. As a result, phishing prevention has become a crucial subject.
Some scams are easy to detect, like the evergreen Nigerian scams where fraudsters are allegedly looking to stash away their fortune with your help! But not all scammers or their tactics are naïve. Some emails are so meticulously crafted that they are challenging to tell apart from legitimate emails and even more challenging to detect their scams. And the worse news is that email is only one channel through which the phishers deliver their attacks. There is a wide variety of techniques and delivery methods used by these adversaries.
Many cybersecurity service providers offer reliable phishing protection to their clients. As useful as these services and the anti phishing solutions are, the success of phishing prevention measures always comes down to end-users, and their knowledge of how to avoid phishing, in the end.
How To Avoid Phishing Attacks
Following is a list of simple tips and anti-phishing security measures that one needs to remember to prevent phishing attacks.
Keep Yourself Informed About Latest Phishing Techniques
Every day, new phishing scams surface to trick unsuspecting users. Your awareness of phishing techniques of five years ago may not be enough to accord you reliable phishing protection from the new scams and understand what is phishing properly. Hence, you need to keep yourself updated with the latest phishing methods. Staying on top of these new phishing attack definitions will help you in identifying these scams. Enterprises need to conduct regular phishing protection and awareness training programs to keep their staff highly trained about phishing and how to protect against phishing.
Keep Your Software Updated
Often, phishing attacks that install malware depend upon the apparent loopholes or bugs in the target’s system software. It is to counter this threat that software providers create and release security patches and updates for their products. Also, antivirus and anti-phishing software need to be updated with the latest virus definitions and phishing attack definitions to be able to prevent viruses and phishing malware from getting installed. These are critical reasons why everyone needs to keep their systems and software updated with the latest patches and updates – for phishing attack prevention.
Check URL Address
You need to be careful when redirected to a website from a link. A common technique in phishing is for the attackers to create spoof websites. These bogus websites typically have names that may, to a careless glance, pass as legitimate, popular website names. For example, a sub-domain of the HubSpot website is blog.hubspot.com, but there may be phishers who maintain a website with a slightly different name of hubspot.blog.com. Anyone who fails to see the difference and tries to log in to their HubSpot account on the fake website is handing their login credentials on a platter to phishers. The breach can have severe consequences, especially since many of us use the same credentials, passwords included, on most, if not all, of our online accounts.
Other examples of such fraudulent websites would be paypaal.com, paypal.org, etc. You should be aware of these techniques and train your eyes to detect such falsified website names.
Install Anti-Phishing Toolbars
Most of the popular browsers are compatible with or have in-built anti-phishing toolbars. These toolbars effectively monitor your online activities and run a background check on the sites you visit. They compare the sites with their database of known phishing websites, and if, by chance, a person visits a malicious website, the toolbar alerts the user immediately. It is an added layer of anti-phishing security to keep away from phishing websites.
Refrain From Immediate Reactions To Email Instructions
Most phishers have been in the business of fooling people for a long time. Their success is mainly attributable to their understanding of human nature. They play on the human tendency to react immediately to something that concerns their finances. And they have been very successful with this tactic. If you receive an email with contents that warn or threaten you about certain issues related to your bank accounts, online accounts, income tax, etc., read the email carefully with your ‘faultfinding mode’ on. Apply common sense on whether it could be a scam. Whatever you may find out, don’t act immediately. It is best to confirm whether the message you receive is valid or not by directly contacting the concerned organization.
Use Password Managers
There are reliable password managers from reputed vendors. The functioning of these managers may not only help you with password management but also with phishing protection. When you use password managers and use the auto-fill option, there is very little chance that you may get fooled into entering your credentials on spoof websites. The reason is that the password manager remembers not only the username/password but also the URL of the website. Therefore, in case the URL is different, the password manager will block access and also prevent users from typing their passwords on such website.
Never Download Suspicious Attachments
One thing you should always remember is that trusted brands never ask for username and passwords via email. The next thing to keep in mind is that trusted brands don’t send an email with attachments containing .exe, .scr, etc.
Email attachments are a convenient way of sharing files. But make sure that you know the sender before downloading an attachment. When you receive an email with attachments from an unknown sender, ignore that email. If the email is necessary, the sender will most likely follow up through another email or other channels.
The information above on how to avoid phishing and the anti-phishing security measures you need to follow may sound mundane, but they prevent phishing attacks getting through into your system. Following the recommendations will keep you safe and avoid the embarrassment and dire consequences of giving out your sensitive information to fraudsters.
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