What is a Phishing Attack and What to Look Out For?
This needs your attention: 1 in 99 emails is a phishing attack!
Undoubtedly, phishing is one of the most common and dangerous cybercrimes out there. So what exactly is it? Let’s find out.
How often do you receive an email that looks very legitimate but has a very fishy email address? Phishing is one activity by which hackers encourage you to open a particular attachment on an email or click on a link that leads to downloading some sort of malware software on your system. Or this could also lead to the system getting frozen owing to a ransomware attack. Not to forget, phishing could also lead to data breaches.
As internet users, you would be expected to be aware of the phishing methods and techniques in order to protect yourself. There are essentially two such techniques that are commonly used, amongst others:
- Email phishing
This is the most common and most convenient form of phishing. It starts with the attacker sending out fraudulent emails to thousands of email users at the same time. If even a very small percentage of this crowd actually click on the malicious link, the attacker can make a lot of money out of this operation.
They put in a lot of effort to design the website interface in a way such that it looks real and authentic. They do this by making use of authentic logos, signatures, company information and the likes. All of this makes the email body looks appealing and convinces you to click.
- Spear phishing
This is a more customised form of phishing where the malicious activities are targeted towards a certain individual or an organisation in general. This would require in-depth knowledge about the organisation or the individual.
For instance, the attacker might research and get the email addresses of a number of employees in a particular company. The email is sent out to all of them posing as one of the directors of the organization, sending across a protected document. This document would require the user’s credentials to unlock it. In this manner, the hacker gets access to the user’s protected information.
Protect Yourself from Phishing – Things to Look Out For
There are several small steps and checks you can follow in order to get rid of phishing activities:
- Legitimate looking emails often come with a suspicious URL or the domain. The fake links might differ from the original in spelling or punctuation and the likes. It is best to check the link before clicking on it.
- Be wary of offers received on your mail that are too good to be true. These might be the attempts to phish data out of your system.
- When you get threatening emails for a system shut down or an account lockdown with unnecessary urgency, it would be best to validate the email first
- Unexpected attachments should always be checked for before opening.
- Phishing emails are usually filled with poor spelling and incorrect grammar. This is another factor to consider to protect yourself from phishing activities.
The bottom line? Do not take any chances. Stay vigilant, and stay safe!