Modern-day “scamming” as we so casually call it has been plaguing us for some time and have peaked in 2020 since the onset of Covid-19.
Have you ever wondered why or how your email, banking, or other private account gets tampered with? This article seeks to explain what it is, the possibility of how it is done, and how to avoid such in the future.
According to Webster’s dictionary, phishing is the practice of tricking internet users (as through the use of deceptive email, text messages, or websites) into revealing personal or confidential information which can then be used illicitly.
How Do You Recognize Phishing?
It is usual for phishers (scammers) to contact and use trickery and in this, you will be tempted to hand over personal sensitive information (this includes but, is not limited to banking credentials, emails, and even social security numbers). These attacks are launched multiple times daily and in this, the success percentile is usually high.
Examples of messages:
In this listing, you will see a number of errors or simple messages that may be used in phishing. Some you may have seen multiple times others are not so commonly used.
- This may take place in login into a bank account, email, or otherwise. The error message may be, “We’ve seen some suspicious activity and ask that you change your account password/login credentials.” never attempt if you believe otherwise.
- Getting a coupon for something you’ve never entered (this in most cases may be prompted based on your browsing and sometimes gives you a notification with a link to click), became more popular during Covid-19.
- How many times have you gotten an email or text message that said you are eligible for government funding or gifts?
- For a claim, you need to confirm payment by entering your credit card information.
These are only a limited amount of messages you may see.
Types of Phishing:
There are varied types of phishing, however, we are going to make mention only four (4):
- Spear Phishing: done through sent emails
- Whaling: this type of attack is aimed at higher profile targets
- Smishing: this usually gets done through SMS or text messages
- Vishing: attack via voice calls better known as scamming via calls
Ways To Avoid Phishing:
1. Get antiviral software:
Why get this you may ask? In getting such software it aids in protecting you from possible viruses or spyware that can be downloaded from any virus that may be planted. Antivirus may be defined as application software that protects your devices from any possible viral attacks.
The antiviral software when installed can start the scan and rid your PC of the possible virus at the point of installation. There are other benefits to installing hence the reason most retailers sell computers with a trial period of the software.
Use of antivirus software
Some use of antiviral software are:
- Identifying spyware
- Find and delete viruses
- Viral prevention
- Scan for viruses and malware
2. Website Security Verification:
It is almost impossible to not share personal sensitive information online currently, this is so as most business places go e-commerce on their businesses. It is also natural if you must say that one can be a bit taken back from providing such sensitive information on any website as your information can be captured.
Being skeptical to submit your information online is quite understandable but, there are things that you can look out for to be on the safe side. Some of the items to look out for are:
- Ensure “HTTPS” begins your URL
- Look out for the closed lock icon near the address bar
- Check site security certificate also known as secure socket layer (SSL)
- Never open files/ download files from emails that you are not aware of or have done business with.
3. Use Firewalls:
Why use a firewall? Using a firewall serves the ultimate purpose of shield for you and your computer from malicious attacks and even unwanted visits from the outside world.
Types of firewalls:
- Desktop firewall: these are usually software types firewall
- Network firewall: this is a hardware-type firewall
- Cloud or hosted firewalls
If these firewall types are used together, they then of malicious attacks on your systems.
4. Avoid Handing Out Personal Information:
This is to be the first rule in the book. Sharing personal sensitive information (PSI) in modern times is somewhat unavoidable, however, this should be closely monitored, if you have never done business with the company or website avoid sharing. As was stated earlier PSI includes but, is not limited to social security number (SSN), full name and identification (ID) number, debit or credit card information, and the list goes on.
In the event you are doubtful of the website that asks for this personal information, one of the best thing to do if the checks recommended in pointer two (2) fails, do adequate research on the company in general. In some cases, you will need to go through their social media pages and even contact information (leave no stone unturned).
As for phishing via email for PSI, selecting a link from the email or file download aims to capture. Links will take you to a page to enter this information and the files usually attach malicious ware to your PC or device.
5. Online Accounts Check:
It is recommended to check online accounts on a regular basis, in avoid visits to online accounts which could hack and taken over by other users. The use of your account is then at the liberty of such users and malicious users’ acts are limitless.
For financial institutions, you will find them getting into the habit of prompting you to change passwords ever so often and if the user name is used rather than generated there will also be a prompt to update that as well. These are great practices to adopt for other online accounts that need to be protected based on the content that it holds or the purpose of the account.
Always remember to practice proper security to your online presence in doing so you will in turn naturally protect your sensitive information while being online. Also, a lack of protection can lead to full-on identity theft.