How to

How to Detect and Avoid Phishing Scams

Picture this: you receive an email or text that looks like it’s from a trustworthy source. But it’s a phishing scam from cybercriminals looking to steal your cash, nab your sensitive data, or plant nasty malware on your gadgets. Phishing scams, one of the sneakiest tricks in the cybercrime playbook, snare at thousands of unsuspecting victims yearly. The good news? You can easily avoid and keep your guard up once you master the art of spotting and thwarting these sneaky scams.

How to Recognize a Phishing Scam

Phishing scams are prevalent online, including emails and e-wallets like Apple Pay, Paypal, and Skrill. Phishers target seemingly unrelated areas like online shopping, telehealth, or websites requiring a subscription — where they clone these websites to capture your login details and financial information.

Scammers might also pose as trusted companies, often creating fake stories, asking you to click links or provide personal data. For instance, they could claim a billing problem, urge you to update payment details, or offer fake coupons.

Phishing works because it taps into human vulnerabilities, like trust, curiosity, and emotional reactions to messages of urgency.

While authentic companies may reach out via email, they won’t send a link to update payment information. Falling for phishing emails can have severe consequences, including identity theft and potential damage to the reputations of the impersonated companies. Stay sharp always.

How To Safeguard Against Phishing Attacks

While your email spam filters do a great job blocking phishing emails, scammers are getting smarter. Unlike before, phishing has grown into a massive and costly online crime by leveraging the help of AI to launch sneakier, sophisticated, and personalized attacks. This is why you must be extra vigilant and always check website URLs before providing payment information for your e-commerce account, travel booking websites, or accessing online casinos.

Here are a few tricks you should have up your sleeves to keep you safe from phishing:

Use of security software

Anti-phishing software shields against suspicious content across various online avenues. This software can seamlessly integrate with web browsers and email inboxes thus adding an extra layer of defense against phishing attempts, fraudulent sites and malware.

This software scans for harmful links and potential malware downloads, promptly blocking them and filtering spam into a separate folder.

Automatic Software Updates

Software updates are vital for your system’s security. They patch security flaws, preventing cybercriminals from accessing your device and planting malware. By securing vulnerabilities, updates protect your data from being accessed and sold by threat actors on the dark web. Additionally, updates often introduce new features that enhance your system’s performance while removing outdated ones.

When performing software updates, be wary of fake update messages that can lead to hacking attempts. Such messages can come in the form of:

  • Pop-ups: Don’t trust pop-ups. Instead, visit the official vendor website or app store to find legitimate updates.
  • Emails: Be cautious of emails claiming overdue updates, even if they look legitimate. Avoid clicking links in such emails. For update information, contact the software’s support desk or visit the vendor’s website.

You should always enable automatic updates whenever possible because operating systems and software offer this feature. This will help you avoid deceptive software update messages and ensure your system stays secure.

Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication

Phishing attacks exploit human behavior. Whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud, phishing aims to steal credentials, granting threat actors access to an organization’s infrastructure. As cloud-based applications surge, phishing on legitimate SaaS platforms has increased by over 1100%.

Implementing phishing-resistant Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) serves as a robust defense. Authenticator apps and more than two layers of authentication offer heightened security against these prevalent cyber threats. This ensures that even if you click a malicious link and your credentials are stolen, MFA provides a roadblock to the phisher because they cannot access your SMS, authenticator apps or email verification.

Backup your data

Lastly, always back up your data to an external hard drive or the cloud. This move can prove to be highly resourceful in case a phishing attack renders your files unusable. Such malicious hackers usually hold your files hostage until you pay them to give you back access. In such instances, your backed-up files on an external source come in handy.

While at it, always remember to back up data that is on your mobile device as well because your mobile is equally susceptible to phishing attacks.

Stay Alert and Keep Your Devices Phisher-Proof

There’s no denying that phishing scams has become more rampant than ever. Even the most ‘secure’ tech giants, such as META, SolarWinds and Amazon, have encountered phishing attacks. This is why it is safe to assume that no business is completely immune to phishing because our employees are still human.

However, you can institute preventative measures, continuously train your employees to identify phishing red flags and thwart these malevolent efforts. What’s more, remember you can enhance your preparedness and capacity to deal with phishing through the use of dedicated security software and timely updates.

Try these tips today and keep your systems secure and resistant to any phisher’s phishing scams.