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Protect yourself from Phishing by Mojisola Ogunlakin

Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is an increasingly common cyberthreat.

Most people associate phishing with e-mail messages that spoof, or mimic, banks, credit card companies or other business like Amazon and eBay. These messages look authentic and attempt to get victims to reveal their personal information. But e-mail messages are only one small piece of a phishing scam.

E-mail is the most common way to distribute phishing lures, but some scammers seek out victims through:

  • Instant messages
  • Cell phone text (SMS) messages
  • Chat rooms
  • Fake banner ads
  • Message boards and mailing lists
  • Fake job search sites and job offers
  • Fake browser toolbars

How does phishing works

From beginning to end, the process involves:

  • Planning.

Phishers decide which business to target and determine how to get e-mail addresses for the customers of that business. They often use the same mass-mailing and address collection techniques as spammers.

  • Setup.

Once they know which business to spoof and who their victims are, phishers create methods for delivering the message and collecting the data. Most often, this involves e-mail addresses and a Web page.

  • Attack.

This is the step people are most familiar with — the phisher sends a phony message that appears to be from a reputable source.

  • Collection.

Phishers record the information victims enter into Web pages or popup windows.

  • Identity Theft and Fraud.

The phishers use the information they’ve gathered to make illegal purchases or otherwise commit fraud. As many as a fourth of the victims never fully recover [Source: Information Week].

How do you protect yourself from phishing

The following security tips would help you prevent your details from Phishers :

  • Check the link before clicking.

Hover over it to preview the URL, and look carefully for misspelling or other irregularities.

  • Enter your username and password only over a secure connection.   

Look for the “https” prefix before the site URL, indicating the connection to the site is secure.

  • Even if a message or a letter came from one of your best friends, remember that they could also have been fooled or hacked. That’s why you should remain cautious in any situation. Even if a message seems friendly, treat links and attachments with suspicion.
  • Messages from official organizations, such as banks, tax agencies, online shops, travel agencies, airlines, and so on, also require scrutiny. Even internal messages from your own office. It’s simply not that hard to fabricate a fake letter that looks like a real one.
  • Sometimes e-mails and websites look just like real ones. It depends on how well the criminals did their homework. But the hyperlinks, most likely, will be incorrect — with spelling mistakes, or they can redirect you to a different place.
  • It’s better not to follow links from e-mails at all. Instead you can open a new tab or window and enter the URL of your bank or other destination manually.
  • If you discover a phishing campaign, report it to the bank, the support desk of your social media network, or whatever other entity the phishing message claims to represent. Reporting really helps in the pursuit of criminals.
  • Avoid logging in to online banks and similar services via public Wi-Fi networks. Hotspots are convenient, but it’s better to use a mobile connection or wait to get to a secure network than to lose all of the money on your credit card or in your bank account. Open networks can be created by criminals who, among other things, spoof website addresses over the connection and thereby redirect you to a fake page.
  • Do not open unexpected files sent by you massively multiplayer online role-playing game comrades or other online buddies. They may be malicious ransomware or even spyware, just like attachments from official-looking e-mails. So be vigilant!
  • Use anti-spam filters

Only open email accounts with providers that include spam filtering. Choose an antivirus and Internet security solution that also includes advanced anti-spam features.

In conclusion, being vigilant online is very important key in order  to be cyber safe. You now know lot more about how phishing works and how to protect yourself. With these tips, we hope you’re better empowered on how to protect yourself from phishing.

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