Phishing is cybercrime that involves the stealing of valuable personal data such as, bank account information, credit card details, etc. Criminals use multiple mobile phones, fake email addresses, and social media accounts (those too, fake obviously!).
Cybercriminals use stolen information to do illegal things like identity theft, taking out large amounts of cash from victim bank accounts, and hacking into secure computer systems to obtain secure and secret information about companies. Let me explain it to you with an example as I have had the experience of working with Telecomm. Suppose a criminal hacked into the Spectrum packages. He can sell them off to buyers for lesser money. This information is further sold to competitor companies to gain favors.
Most of the time, the purpose of phishing is just to spread malware. So, how to avoid being a victim? Here are some useful tips for you to keep your system and security safe.
Be Careful while Checking your Emails
Prevention is better than cure. And being a little paranoid about your security and privacy is way better than being a victim. Be very careful when you check your emails. Spammers are well aware of the working of a human mind and they come up with luring traps that work. They would talk about you winning a lottery or a sudden fortune. Be aware of such traps. Also, make sure to report such emails to your email account service providers (Yahoo, Google, etc.).
Stay Updated about Latest Phishing Techniques
Yes, the cybercriminals are as resourceful as you are. New phishing techniques are developed every day. Subscribe to journals and web blogs that can keep you informed about the latest phishing techniques. If you are well-aware of them, you will be able to identify them as early as they appear in your email or your text. Training on how to block and avoid phishing scams should be considered compulsory for IT administration staff in every company.
Read Emails Carefully
Reputable organizations and companies put much effort into hiring people who are good at what they do, i.e., producing quality content for their consumers or clients. But surely, a criminal would not have that much time and funds and would prefer doing the writing job himself. Look into your emails carefully. Emails with lots of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, typos would point out a problem.
Use Secure Networks
Public networks are often not protected or encrypted for safe use. This might help the scammers in getting access to personal data like account information, email addresses, usernames, passwords, saved passwords. Also, avoid giving personal information like your date of birth, age, workplace identity, etc., on public sites. Instead of relying on a public network, a safer option would be to use the hotspot/tethering data from your mobile phone to connect while using a public network.
Install an Anti-Phishing Software
It is probably the easiest safety precaution you could take to make your system safe. Most of the internet browsers support anti-phishing software installation and toolbars. These toolbars work efficiently and quickly to run a check on the sites you are visiting. If you mistakenly open a malware site, your toolbar will alert you about the danger.
Bonus point: most of these software installations are completely free to use.
Beware of the Pop-Ups
Yes, they look all glossy and colorful, but, pop-ups are not your friend. Pop-ups are usually fake scams, looking like legitimate websites, but have no link to them. Many known browsers allow you to block pop-ups. If you still see one, don’t click on the buttons like ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘disagree’. Simply click the small ‘x’ at the upper corner of the pop-up.
Stay Tuned to Your Social Media Accounts
Do you make an account, get immersed in work, and forget all about it later? We all do. Keep visiting your social media accounts. There’s a risk that a hacker or an identity thief might be using it without you being aware of it. Even if you don’t need to visit those accounts regularly, do it for the sake of your security checking.
To avoid credit card and bank account phishing scams, make sure to check your bank account statements carefully. Sometimes the hacker tactics are so well equipped that the credit card usage texts are blocked too. To ensure that no illegal or fraudulent transaction has been made in your name, always keep your financial accounts in check. Every time I pay Spectrum bill online, I make sure to take a screenshot of the page that shows the paid status of my account. You could do that as well.