In this digital era, there are numerous phishing websites that are up and running every few minutes. Attackers make use of various means to target people including social media platforms, emails, SMS, voice calls, instant messengers, and more.
From common people to top-rank professionals, anyone can fall prey to the trap of these cyber criminals. To avoid this, one must understand phishing and in what forms it can be carried out. Further, users must also take all precautionary measures to avoid phishing attacks at all costs.
In this post, we are going to see what phishing is and how to avoid these attacks:
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of crime that attackers carry out by impersonating a renowned person or enterprise. These attackers wish to trap people and convince them to share their personal or sensitive information such as credit card details, passwords etc. Or, they may also trick you with false situations and ask you to send them money or install malicious software.
Phishing is one of the most common types of cyber-attack that happens every minute across the globe. Not only does it affect millions of people, but also businesses. Cybercriminals actively send millions of fraudulent emails to recipients per day in hopes that someone may fall prey to their scam.
The most common example would be getting an email from what looks like a reputed company and it contains a malicious link, urging the recipient to click on it. Once clicked, the malware gets installed in the recipient’s device which is more like a spyware designed to steal sensitive data.
Top 10 Ways to Prevent Phishing Attacks:
Know how to identify phishing scams
New techniques of phishing scams are discovered all the time and we must know how to identify these scams. Learn about different types of phishing attacks that happen every day through websites that state key identifiers of phishing scams.
Think twice before clicking on any link
Do not click on any link sent through emails, SMS, instant messaging, etc., even if the sender is known. Most phishing scams are designed to look real, sophisticated and reputable. These links may actually look like a perfect imitation of genuine websites.
If you click on these links, the attackers have a full setup to record your keystrokes, sniff passwords or steal sensitive information such as credit card details.
Install an Anti-Phishing toolbar
Popular web browsers allow you to install an anti-phishing toolbar that will quickly check websites for key identifiers. These tools will compare the visited site to the list of phishing websites. If a site is malicious, you will get a notification. These tools are free, so that’s a bonus!
Check website’s security
Beware of entering your personal information or credit card details online on any website. You must check whether the website is secure, and this is indicated by the site’s URL starting from HTTPS. The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure, which means it is an encrypted connection and your information is kept private. Secure websites also have a closed lock icon in the URL bar. For further verification, you can also check the site’s security certificate.
If you get an alert that a website seems malicious or suspicious, do not visit it or download any files from it. Remember, even search engines may return some phishing webpages in the SERPs offering products at a cheap rate. One must be careful when buying from such websites, as these sites may record your credit card details.
Update your Browser
Popular browsers regularly release security patches to maintain the privacy and security of the users. These patches are released to patch the security loopholes that attackers predictably discover and target. Download and install the browser update as soon as you get a notification about the same.
Keep a check on your online accounts
Make sure you keep a check on your online accounts often, and change your passwords regularly. Additionally, keep checking your bank statements regularly to look out for credit card phishing or bank phishing scams. For your financial accounts, get monthly statements and check them thoroughly to ensure there are no suspicious transactions.
Set up a desktop firewall and a network firewall to prevent your system from malicious spyware, malware, or other intruders. Choose reliable, reputable firewalls in the form of hardware, software or combination of both. These will protect your device and network from phishers and attackers to a great extent.
Don’t click on pop-ups!
Pop-up windows may look like a genuine element of the website you’re visiting. However, most of the time these are phishing baits. These pop-ups also have a fake cancel button with ‘X’ symbol and clicking on this will actually lead you to phishing sites. Instead, click on the real cancel button ‘x’ which is smaller in size and cited at the upper corner.
Popular browsers provide settings to block the pop-up windows. You can customize these settings as per your preference.
Never provide your personal information
As a ground rule, NEVER share your financial information or personal details online. Most phishing links will lead you to a web page asking for your personal information or financial details. When in doubt, simply visit the official company’s website directly, get their contact details and call them.
Never provide your sensitive information via clicking on any links given in SMS, emails, instant messengers, etc. Never send your personal details or financial information through email to anyone. Always make sure you check the URL of the website to see if it starts from HTTPS.
Antivirus software will protect your device against security loopholes. This software is regularly updated as a response to new scams. Use firewall settings and anti-spyware to avoid phishing scams. Reliable firewalls will prevent malicious files from accessing your device. On the other hand, anti-virus software will scan each and every file downloaded online to prevent damage to the device.
With this, we wrap up our informative post on Top 3 Ways to avoid Phishing Attacks. Hope you find these precautionary measures insightful. Always make sure to follow these steps to steer clear of growing phishing attacks.
If you happen to slip through the crack, immediately scan your device via full-featured antivirus software. Moreover, you can freeze your credit by contacting your bank’s support team and report the attack to your relative entity such as bank, email providers or anti-fraud bureau.