One of the worst scams affecting web users today are phishing attacks. Many people find their personal and financial information compromised after being victims of these scammers. But how can you protect yourself when you surf the web? This article will give you a run-down on what phishing attacks are and how you can protect yourself online.
What Are Phishing Attacks?
Phishing happens when scammers trick a web user into doing something ‘wrong’, like clicking a bad link or unknowingly downloading malware onto their device. These sites and malware steal your personal information, such as credentials and credit card numbers. They can then scam people out of thousands. Phishing is not just used against individual web users, however. Businesses often get targeted, and employees are tricked into clicking on these links. Scammers can bypass security perimeters and gain access to secured data when this happens. This can be devastating to a business.
What Do Phishing Attacks Look Like?
Phishing attacks take multiple forms. The most common types of phishing attacks are:
- Fake emails
A fake email from a legitimate-looking email address (for example, including a university faculty name in the email address) will be submitted to as many students and staff as possible. The email will claim that the user’s account is about to expire (or something like this.) The link to renew the account will be malicious and cause the person’s information to be compromised. These emails will be sent out en masse and often cause many people’s data to be stolen.
- Spear phishing
Spear phishing will target one specific person or enterprise instead of random internet users. It’s a pretty sophisticated form of phishing. Like ordinary phishing, they will often take the form of texts/emails but will include information about employees or the business to make them seem more legitimate. They can rob a lot of money and valuable data this way.
- ‘Smishing’ and ‘Vishing’
Smishing (phishing via SMS) and Vishing (phishing via voicemail) have become very common in the past few years. They will include a text or voicemail urging the recipient to change their bank pin number or login details as it has been compromised. The links in these messages will steal the recipient’s information.
How can you protect yourself from phishing attacks?
Because phishing attacks can be extremely common and sophisticated, it’s best to have a multi-layered attack and defence plan. Here are some of the things you can do to protect yourself:
Make It Difficult For Phishing Scams To Attack You
You can implement anti-spoofing controls on your email accounts to stop phishing attempts from going to your inbox in the first place.
Make Sure You’re Able To Spot Phishing Attempts
Educating yourself on common practices by legitimate businesses can help you spot phishing attacks in real-time. For example, if a legitimate business has a problem with your account and needs you to access it, there will often be 2-factor authentication so you can get into your account. Most legitimate businesses will never ask for your password over the phone or text. You can stop phishing attacks from affecting you by being able to spot them. If you run a business, training your staff to spot phishing attacks can help protect your enterprise from attacks.
Protect Your Devices From Malware
Protecting your devices from malware can stop phishing attempts. You can prevent phishing malware from infecting and stealing your information by downloading anti-malware software to your personal or work devices. Making sure your internet browsers are up to date can also protect against phishing attacks. Most up-to-date browsers have built-in systems to protect against these scams because they have become so common.
Respond Quickly If You Have Been Compromised
Most people or organisations will experience a security breach at some point. But by acting quickly, you can limit how much the phishing attack damages you or your business. If you promptly inform your bank about what has happened and change the passwords to your compromised logins, you can limit the amount of damage done by these scammers. If you run a business, create an Incident Response Plan, which will lay out protocols and steps for your staff in case of a breach. Many companies find that employing cyber security services can help them be as protected as possible and can help them mitigate the consequences of a successful phishing attack.
Phishing attacks can devastate your finances and significantly impact your business. You can protect your money and valuable information by staying aware of phishing attempts and taking these steps.