What are phishing scams and how can you stop them? How to recognize a phishing attack and being aware of your own vulnerabilities and taking appropriate measures.
While there are countless types of different online viruses and scams, one of the most infamous and prevalent are phishing scams.
If you were to imagine a battering ram smashing against the walls of a castle, working tirelessly until it found a weak spot to exploit and crack through, you’d be a long way to understanding how major phishing attacks can expose huge amounts of sensitive data – including tax information, personal and corporate finances, credit card details, medical records, and more. While phishing attacks start small, they have the power to bring down institutions.
This is because they work like the battering ram, working to gain a small gap in the armor, then widening it blow by blow. Unfortunately, what makes phishing messages even worse is that they are so easy and cheap to create. Emails and texts are largely free to send and easy to send at scale, allowing hackers to send out endless amounts of virus-ridden messages until they find a weak spot – in this case, an oblivious victim.
However, while phishing scams are commonplace and easy to produce at scale, there are a number of techniques and approaches you can use to prevent yourself from being victimized by a scammer.
Here’s more information on phishing scams and how you can stop them:
They are disguised in plain sight
The worst aspect of phishing scams – and certainly the most sinister – is that they work by hiding in plain sight. They do not disguise themselves by wearing masks or hoods, carry weapons, or show any other sign of being untrustworthy. They hide behind a computer screen and use the cover of trusted companies and institutions to infiltrate your devices.
However, once you understand this, you can better spot a phishing attack when it presents itself. This is because phishing scams work by catching you unawares – when you are distracted or not thinking through your actions.
As long as you remain alert to suspicious-sounding messages from institutions who would never usually ask for your payment details or sensitive data, you can prevent yourself from being tricked. The rule of thumb is that if an email offer or text message sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Visit Proofpoint for more information about phishing attacks.
To beat the scammers, you have to think like the scammers
In order to stay safe online, you have to be aware of your own vulnerabilities. This means keeping track of exactly how much sensitive data you keep on your computer hard drive, whether your antivirus software is comprehensive enough and if the websites you usually visit are safe.
Furthermore, avoid answering unsolicited text messages or emails from third parties, and ensure your finance details are kept safe when ordering products online.
These are the cracks that scammers usually find their way through. You must work to cover off as many of these security gaps in order to make it too hard for the scammers to want to keep attacking you.
Take additional measures if you handle lots of sensitive data
If you work for or own a company and handle a significant quantity of sensitive data, then why not consider taking additional online security measures, such as using an encrypted email provider, investing in a good quality VPN service, upgrading your antivirus software, or even owning digital credit cards, which prevent your actual card from being wiped clean by hackers.