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How to tackle phishing scams

Kudakwashe Charandura Kudakwashe Charandura

Phishing attacks are one of the most common methods hackers use to creep into victims’ accounts and networks. According to Symantec, one in 2,000 emails are phishing attacks, which means there are 135 million attacks every day.

It is very possible to unknowingly fall prey to a phishing attack with just one CLICK!

Here are practical hints to tackle phishing scams: 

Fully understand the techniques used

Phishing scams are being developed all the time. Without staying on top of these new phishing techniques, you could inadvertently fall prey to one. Keep your eyes peeled for news about new phishing scams. By finding out about them as early as possible, you will be at a much lower risk of getting caught by one.

Think before you click

It’s ok to click on links when you’re on trusted sites. Clicking on links that appear in random emails and instant messages isn’t such a cyber smart move. Hover over links that you are unsure of before clicking on them. Do they lead where they are supposed to lead? A phishing email may claim to be from a legitimate company, and when you click the link to the website, it may look exactly like a legitimate website.

The email may ask you to fill in the information, but the email may not contain your name. Most phishing emails will start with “Dear Customer”, so you should be alert when you come across these emails. 

When in doubt, go directly to the source rather than clicking a potentially dangerous link.

Verify the website's security

If you don’t visit an online account for a while, someone could be having a field day with it. Even if you don’t technically need to, check in with each of your online accounts regularly.

Get into the habit of changing your passwords regularly too. To prevent bank phishing and credit card phishing scams, you should personally check your statements regularly. Get monthly statements of your financial accounts, check each and every entry carefully to ensure no fraudulent transactions have been made without your knowledge.

Never give out personal information

As a rule, you should never share personal or financially sensitive information over the Internet.

This rule spans all the way back to the days of America Online when users had to be warned constantly due to the success of early phishing scams. When in doubt, type the main website of the company in question yourself, get their number and give them a call.

Most phishing emails will direct you to pages where entries for financial or personal information are required. An Internet user should never make confidential entries through the links provided in the emails. Never send an email with sensitive information to anyone. Make it a habit to check the address of the website. A secure website always starts with “https”.

Keep your web browser up to date

Security patches are released for popular browsers all the time. They are released in response to the security loopholes that phishers and other hackers inevitably discover and exploit.

If you typically ignore messages about updating your browsers, stop. The minute an update is available, download and install it.

Use next-generation anti-virus software

There are plenty of reasons to use next-generation anti-virus software. Special signatures that are included with antivirus software guard against known technology workarounds and loopholes.

Just be sure to keep your software up to date. New definitions are added all the time because new scams are also being dreamed up all the time. Anti-spyware and firewall settings should be used to prevent phishing attacks, and users should update the programs regularly. 

Firewall protection prevents access to malicious files by blocking the attacks. Antivirus software scans every file which comes through the Internet to your computer. It helps to prevent damage to your system.

Technologies to consider

In recent years, new technologies have made their way to the email security forefront. User behaviour and artificial intelligence technologies systematically understand the normal behaviour of the user and then block irregular behaviour not expected by the user. It's well worth investigating to alleviate ''doing the same thing expecting a different result'' strategy.

Phishing attacks leverage social engineering being created today and to create cyber safe culture, both user education and technologies need to be fully embedded in everything you do. The bad actors will not stop until they have your money in their bank accounts and the above is a great place to ensure you are well versed in the art of phishing prevention and the impact it could have on your business or personal life.