Phishing has been one of the most popular cyber threats that companies and individuals had to deal with in the last couple of years. According to the 2020 FBI Internet Crime Report, 241,342 people fell victim to phishing scams causing an estimated $54 Million in loss.
If you would like to learn more about phishing and how to protect yourself against it, this article is for you. We will first discuss some of the basics of phishing and then dive into the details of how to protect yourself against this cyber threat that has become pretty popular in recent years.
What is phishing?
Phishing is a social engineering attack where the cyber-criminal sends fraudulent messages designed to trick you into sharing sensitive information.
Most of these phishing attacks are made through emails, social media, and other platforms on which many people spend most of their time.
Let’s discuss ways to protect yourself from phishing scams.
Protecting yourself from phishing
1. Don’t click links in emails you don’t know.
As we have earlier discussed, most of the phishing emerged from email. So, when you get an email from a user you don’t know, don’t be tempted to click the links. First, know why they’re making that request. If someone sends you a suspicious email that contains links, simply mark it as spam or delete it.
If you’re unsure about an email, use a link checker such as Norton Safe Web. It’ll help you scan the website/link to find out if it’s secure.
2. Don’t share personal information with anyone.
One of the best ways to avoid being a victim of phishing is not sharing your personal information. This includes login credentials or payment details, with anyone, whether you know them or not. When you have this rule of not sharing your personal information, it will be more natural for you not to share it even when an attacker tricks you into doing so.
3. Be careful with whom you share your email.
The web has millions of websites, and most of them will always request you to share your email whenever you visit them. However, if you don’t trust the website, don’t be tempted to share your email with them. Some of these sites sell user information such as emails and credit data details to the dark web as a way to generate income.
You may also use “Hide my email” services like the one Apple offers in its latest version of macOS, iPadOS, and macOS. If you are using an Android or Windows device, you may use other platforms like 1Password; they also have this “Masked email” feature that will hide your email while signing up on websites you don’t trust.
With this feature, your actual email is replaced with a random email that is connected to the servers of the service provider. So, if you choose to block emails from a particular website that you find suspicious, they will no longer be able to send you messages even when they try using another emails address to do so.
4. Do not open attachments you don’t trust.
If someone you don’t know sends an attachment to your inbox on your email or social media, first confirm who they are before you open it. Attackers use this trick to attach pieces of code that will automatically start harvesting your data as soon as you open it on your pc or mobile device.
But even if the person you know sends an attachment you don’t expect, contact them to confirm that this attachment was sent by them. Usually, when an attacker compromises one person, they tend to use their account to send emails with links and attachments to most of the victim’s friends to get the chance of compromising their accounts as well.
To be safe, set yourself a rule of not opening any attachment if you do not expect to receive it, even if it is from people you know.
Despite being a pretty popular cyberthreat, phishing is one of the easiest threats to deal with if you know exactly what to do. Attackers are always coming up with new ways of tricking users into clicking data harvesting links and opening unsafe attachments. However, if you set yourself rules of not opening links or attachments from people you don’t know, you will save yourself from being a victim of these phishing attacks.
If you are into cyber security or trying to pursue a career in this field, it is important always to stay updated on all the latest phishing strategies that attackers are coming up with. You should then share this information with the people you are in charge of to save them from being the next victims.