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How To Spot Phishing Attacks

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Phishing attacks might be one of the oldest tricks in the book for hackers but it is still very effective and doing damage to individuals and businesses. Sadly, a lot of people and businesses don’t know the preventive measures to take to stay protected against phishing attacks. The truth is, no one is completely safe from phishing attacks, the only solution is to educate yourself and your employees so that you don’t fall victim to phishing attacks.

What Is A Phishing Attack?

Well, you won’t be able to stay protected against phishing attacks if you don’t know what it is. A phishing attack can take any form, email, text message, phone call, social media; it is an enticing or misleading request to perform an action that can lead to the hacker getting more details about you or your business.
Phishing emails are the most common and most effective because they tend to look real and familiar such that the people who fall victim to phishing attacks were made to think that it’s just a regular email from an organization or a person they trust.

How To Stay Protected Against Phishing Attacks

As clever as hackers have become, one sure way to not fall victim to phishing attacks is by being careful – by paying attention, taking things slowly so that you can see and think clearly before making decisions. Here are some tips that can help you spot phishing attacks.

Emails With Suspicious Attachments: emails with suspicious attachments that you were not expecting and didn’t ask for. The attachments are often in these formats .zip, .exe, .scr, spreadsheet.xlw, or file.pdf, etc. If you open the attachment, it may show a regular document but it will execute hidden code.

Emails With Errors: emails with bad spellings or grammar such as “ocasion” instead of “occasion”. Most legitimate emails won’t have any bad spelling or grammar because companies have editors who review emails before sending them out.

Emails Asking You To Take Urgent Action: emails asking you to do something immediately before a deadline. This is usually a hyperlink with a familiar hypertext. Hackers use this trick because it gets their victims to make quick decisions without thinking it through. Don’t click on the link, instead hover around the hypertext to see the URL. This will most likely reveal an unknown domain address or a domain address that’s slightly different from a reputable one you trust. For instance, a phishing email can add ”http/appieid.com.apple.com” instead of ”https/appleid.com.apple.com” to get your Apple ID logins.

Spoofed Email: an email that looks like it came from a reputable source, maybe your bank or your smartphone company asking you to click a link, a malicious embedded link that may redirect to a fake website. Watch out for the domain name, HTTP without ”S” is a red flag. Also, if the domain address starts with an IP address, it’s probably a phishing site. It is advisable that you use an email authentication technology such as DMARC which will prevent spoofed emails from reaching your consumers. You don’t want your clients to think that you’re responsible for the phishing attacks that stole their money.

Spear-phishing: This is the easiest trick that makes people fall victim to phishing attacks. The hackers who do this patiently monitor the company or individual they want to attack for a while across their social media, and if possible hack their webcam. They get personal information such as birthday, family relationships, planned events, interests, etc. Let’s say there’s a passionate Chelsea FC fan who plays online sports bets regularly, a hacker could send him or her an email supposedly from the online sports betting company that he has won himself a Meet and Greet trip to meet Chelsea FC players because of his loyalty or because it’s his birthday, just anything personal. This is really tempting, right? It is quite hard not to fall victim to phishing attacks that appear personal.

Bottom line

Frankly, you can’t block out all possibilities that can lead you to fall victim to phishing attacks but you can take some preventive measures such as installing spam filters, making use of 2-factor authentication, encrypting important information. Also, ensure that your payment gateway provider has up-to-date ISO 27001 and PCI DSS certifications.
Lastly, hackers don’t require many employees in a company to fall victim to phishing attacks, they need just one employee to get careless or carried away and they will gain access to the company’s private information. As a business owner, you need to regularly teach your staff and test their knowledge of phishing attacks.

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