What is phishing?
Have you ever received an odd message from a friend saying that they cannot believe the photos of you that a website posted? What about an email saying that there was suspicious activity on an account you have? You may have been subject to phishing. Phishing is the fraudulent act of sending emails or messages from a reputable company or person in order to obtain sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card information from a person.
What does phishing look like?
Phishing often takes form in emails or in direct messages on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While messages vary, a common theme is that the message will almost always include a link. This link will look like a reputable site for you to log into, but it is not secure. The purpose of it is to just collect your login information and use it to do more phishing attacks. How do you avoid falling for phishing traps?
While you cannot stop all phishing direct messages from coming through, you can protect your email and understand ways to identify phishing attempts.
Phishing messages from friends you have on social media will differ from regular messages you would receive. They sound automated and generally have some sort of shock value in order to get you to click on the link sent. The messages are awkward and seem out of place.
Phishing emails are a little different. The emails will appear to be a lot more legitimate than phishing messages. One thing to check is the email address itself. If the email address is simply a slew of random characters it is a scam. Antivirus software and a firewall should help to prevent from those emails coming into your inbox.
The most important thing to remember when trying to prevent yourself from falling for phishing is to not click links that you get from suspicious messages or from suspicious emails. If you do not click the link, they cannot get your information.
What to do if your information has been compromised
Nobody is perfect, even the best of us fall for phishing scams. When you think you may have fallen for phishing and your information has been taken, the best thing to do is to change your passwords immediately if you logged into a website, and to call the credit company or bank if you put in any payment information. Do not let your information continue to be taken by being proactive and changing information before any more damage can be done.
Phishing has been around for decades. It constantly is evolving to get information from people. The best way to protect yourself from phishing tactics is to be vigilant and careful. Real people are smarter than basic phishing tactics. Remember to be aware of what websites you are sharing information with, make sure they are secure and did not simply come from a link from a message that your great aunt who you haven’t talked to in months. Bottom line, if you have a gut feeling that it doesn’t look right or you are not expecting an email about a certain subject from that person or you do not know that person, DO NOT CLICK ON IT. Contact your IT team immediately and if you have clicked on it and then think oh no, pull the power on the machine, yes you have been told never to do this, but it can, not always, save the rest of your network.
Be safe, and keep your information secure from phishing.