Don’t Let Your Guard Down! Avoid Phishing Scams With These Simple Steps
How to avoid falling victim to phishing scams.
According to a Forbes magazine report, phishing scams have been costing half a billion dollars to US businesses every year since 2013. Phishing scams have often been touted as one of the most organized crimes in the world. Cybercriminals often target large organizations with a large number of employees, where the chances of someone clicking on the links in their emails is quite high.
However, the attacks are not limited to these corporate enterprises alone, SMEs around the world have also seen attempts made on their systems, which have been increasing in volume and frequency over the past few years.
The language used in such emails calls for urgent action, and when people make hasty decisions, they inadvertently end up increasing the number of successful attacks for phishers. It is quite astonishing how much information these cybercriminals can gather on the public domain since everything is put online nowadays.
How Can You Avoid Becoming A Victim Of Phishing Scams?
Phishing isn’t an alien term for anyone these days, and most of us know what phishing is. It’s problematic that still a lot of us end up as targets and at times victims of phishing attacks. The kind of phishing scams and ploys used these days are highly advanced and require equally smart countermeasures.
It can be challenging to put a hold on such hackers and cybercriminals. But if we take a few precautions and deploy countermeasures, we will be able to prevent any such phishing scams from seeing success. Always staying alert, opening only emails from trusted sources, and updating your knowledge of the scams and current trends – these are some of the preliminary measures to avoid such attacks. What may seem like a mundane activity may go very far in protecting not only your IT system but also your bank account and other private details. Below are certain safeguards one can put in place to avoid being on the receiving end of such attacks
Phishing scams prey on the carelessness of people.
It is crucial for one to always be vigilant before revealing any personal, sensitive, or financial information online. Always make sure that any email you open is from a legitimate source and doesn’t have any grammatical or spelling errors. Always check the website URLs mentioned in such emails before clicking on them, to make sure that it matches that of the institution it allegedly represents. Reputed organizations don’t usually put out-of-place “Reply-To” sections on emails, but hackers and phishing attackers do.
When in doubt, delete
Sometimes, an email might seem just not right and may trigger a warning in your mind. Whenever you are in doubt and suspect any email to be a phishing attempt, delete it immediately. There are ways to verify by calling the institution or person if the email you’d received was legitimate or not. It’s better to delete an email that raises suspicion so that you avoid replying to it or clicking on its link even accidentally. Also, a trustworthy sender who wants to get to you will most likely try to do so by another email or by other means.
Always ensure that your system is kept safe and secure by the latest version of reputed anti-virus software that can detect any malicious software or phishing attempt. You may have clicked on a link in haste and have now made yourself prone to phishing scams. In such cases, your anti-virus can act as a second wall of defense and help you avoid any serious implications. A good anti-phishing software or program warns users whenever they visit untrustworthy websites or URLs.
Educate and train stakeholders
If you’re a big organization, the chances are that cybercriminals would target you a lot. With that, the chances of being scammed increase, too. Since you cannot check each email of your stakeholders and employees, you need to make them aware of these threats and how real they are in your world. The old way of sending emails about phishing usually doesn’t work, so one may need newer ways to spread awareness. Like embedding anti-phishing training in the email server or by using simulated attacks, role-plays, or games.
Provide little information online
Many times, you get unsolicited emails asking you to provide your credit card details, bank information, social security information, or even your contact details. While the email might seek urgent response and may indicate severe repercussions if not followed, always disclose little to no details of the above nature online. Banks and financial institutions never ask for confidential information or smart card details like CVV number, card number, PIN, or expiration date. They keep alerting their customers of this fact; take note and remember it when you get such calls or messages.
Keep yourself informed
Since a lot of us use multiple accounts for banking, it’s a good habit to keep a tab on the transactions for each account daily. If you suspect anything deviates from usual, raise the alarm with your bank to avoid any financial loss. The sooner you report any suspicious transaction or activity, the better your chances of avoiding monetary damages or liability arising out of it.
Take your time
We typically have a habit of checking our emails and replying instantly or taking action on them rapidly. While this tendency serves us well for many things, it might not be the right approach all the time, especially when it involves phishing scams. It’s better to be safe than sorry. So, take your time and see if it warrants urgent and immediate action or if it is just someone trying to dupe you into a scam.
In this day and age of digital transformation and machine learning, a lot of action takes place online. The vastness of the internet and our innate dependency on it are apparent. But these not only serve to out benefits but also make us vulnerable to sophisticated phishing scams.
Combating phishing attacks has become a real challenge as cybercriminals seek prey and use specialized means to gather information about their targets. While this makes it very difficult for one to distinguish these attacks, it also makes it near impossible to catch the criminals. The highly evolved tactics used by attackers make it increasingly challenging to protect your cyber assets. However, the above phishing protection steps may help you to stay out of a situation where you find yourself as a victim of phishing scams.