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how to protect yourself from phishing attacks

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks

phishing attacks
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Cybercriminals are becoming smarter with their tactics. They have leveraged the latest technology like artificial intelligence to combat security personnel’s prevention methods. That’s why the best way to protect oneself from attacks is to educate yourself.

With the increasing number of threats, consumers must learn to spot signs of an attack and news about them. Phishing attacks, being the most prevalent cyber threat online, can affect businesses and individuals. 

The reason why phishing scams have been prevalent is due to the cunning approach of attackers. The personalized content of their emails makes it convincing. Furthermore, phishing emails occur all the time. Therefore, there’s a chance that someone can click on it and provide sensitive information accidentally.

With 3.4 billion phishing emails sent daily worldwide, you’ll need to start getting to know about the red flags. It’s hard to stop attackers from what they are doing, but you can keep yourself safe from their schemes.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of phishing attacks. Also, you’ll know how you can keep yourself safe from them.

If you have a business, you can check out our blog post on Phishing Scams: How to Spot and Protect Your Business or How to Know If My Email Has Been Hacked.

What are the Different Types of Phishing Attacks?

Deceptive Phishing

It is the most common form of a phishing attack. The attacker pretends to be from a legitimate company, asking for personal details and login credentials. 

You can spot a deceptive email with the following:

  • They use a public email domain. Legitimate organizations have their company name as their email domain. Although some hackers use a legitimate company’s name on the email, the domain name doesn’t look exactly like that of the company.
  • Poorly written emails. Most phishing emails have poor spelling and grammar. 
  • Suspicious links and files are attached. Phishing emails from attackers always inform the recipient to click on the link or download the file. Some links look suspicious, but nowadays, attackers try to escape the detection of email filters by adding legitimate links. 
  • The message always conveys a sense of urgency. They’ll want the recipient to panic, so they will click on the link without thinking twice.

Sometimes phishing emails can get through the filtering system of the email provider. Attackers have found ways to deceive email providers so they can enter the inbox without difficulty.

  • They create landing pages and links that fool the Exchange Online Protection or EOP. Hackers replicate the CSS and JavaScript of a large company.
  • They use short URLs or links to bypass the security system of email. Then they will redirect the victim to the malicious page. Once the victim has provided their information, they’ll go to the legitimate page of the company being spoofed.
  • Alter the HTML attributes of a legitimate company’s logo to fool email security.
  • Shorten the body or use images instead.

Spear Phishing

The goal is similar to deceptive phishing. The attacker manipulates the recipient into providing login credentials or personal information.

However, spear phishing uses another technique to manipulate the victim. The attacker creates a personalized email with information that the sender might think the person came from the same company.

If attackers want to target executives, they use a whaling attack. It is a form of spear phishing for those with the position.

Vishing

Instead of email, the attacker utilizes calls and impersonates a person from a company. They’ll deceive the person into giving information vital to the company.

Smishing

Another form of phishing attack that doesn’t require email is smishing. Attackers will send malicious text messages with urgency. They’ll trick the recipient into clicking on the click and provide vital information.

Pharming

Pharming is the new way attackers use to try to gain a victim. They use the domain name system (DNS), a naming system used by the Internet to translate alphabetical website names to numerical IP addresses so that it can locate and guide users to computer services and devices.

The attacker targets a DNS server and alters the IP address associated with an alphabetical website name in a DNS cache poisoning attack. As a result, an attacker can drive people to any malicious website they want. This is true even if the victim types in the right URL.

These phishing attacks ultimate goal is to take control over the victim’s account. Once the attacker can access a person’s account, they can either steal information or sell the data on the dark web. Furthermore, it will give them the privilege to steal from your contacts.

Now, it’s time to protect yourself from this threat.

How to Secure Your Device and Accounts from Phishing Attacks

Educate Yourself About Phishing Attacks

Learning the signs of a phishing email or attacks will prevent you from becoming a victim. You’ll know what to check on the email before you click on the link or download a file.

Also, you know that companies never send such alarming emails to their recipients. So, when you know this, you know that you’ll delete the message immediately.

Do Not Click on Links

Even if you know the sender, it’s not a good idea to click on a link in an email or any message. Hovering over the link to see if the destination is right is the basic minimum you should be doing. Some phishing attacks are quite clever, and destination URLs can appear to be a replica of the legitimate site, which is set up to capture keystrokes or steal login/credit card information. If you can access the site directly through your search engine rather than clicking on the link, you should do so.

Check on The Site’s Security

Google has included security as part of ranking on their search engine. Therefore, website owners will have to include SSL certification on their site. The “HTTPS” at the start of the URL and padlock icon are signs that a website is secure.

If you stumble on a website with no HTTPS, do not provide sensitive information. 

Change Passwords Regularly

Sometimes our accounts can be compromised without our knowledge. Some websites may be hacked and gain access to their followers’ sensitive data. The best way to prevent hackers from gaining access anytime is to change your password frequently.

You can change your password every three or six months. Just make sure that you do not recycle your password or share the same password with other accounts.

Aside from changing your password, make sure that you use complicated passwords on your account. It means you’ll have to combine upper and lower cases, numbers, and symbols. Creating complex passwords can prevent brute force attacks.

Furthermore, make sure your password doesn’t contain any personal details about you. Hackers can easily access an email of a person who uses a password related to them.

Update Everything

Another way to prevent phishing attacks and other threats, in general, is to update everything. It includes your software, browser, and system. Updates offer patches to vulnerabilities of bugs present and new features.

If you fail to accept updates, you provide attackers the opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities in your device.

Be Careful of Pop-ups

One way phishing attacks can occur is by embedding a suspicious link into pop-up ads. If you encounter a tempting ad on your screen, never click on it. Instead, look for the “X” button available on the corner.

You can also install an ad blocker to prevent ads and pop-ups. But be careful of the adblocker you are to install. Make sure that it’s not malware.

Install an Antivirus or Anti-Malware Software

You can find plenty of antivirus software programs in the market that offer overall protection. Choose one that can filter emails and detect threats that are not noticed easily.

There are also antivirus programs to scan browsers or check the website if it is secure to provide personal information.

Some cybersecurity tools you can try are ESET Security, Bitdefender Total Security, or Kaspersky. They offer multiple device protection and complete features, even parental control.

Get a Firewall

A firewall can be a hardware or software security that prevents outside traffic from gaining access to the computer’s data. Computers and laptops have a built-in firewall; you can easily activate them. You can also add a network firewall to prevent unauthorized individuals from entering your network, particularly if you are a business.

Never Respond to Spam Messages

If you receive a spam email, quickly delete them or don’t open or respond to them. If you reply to spam emails, they’ll confirm that your email is active, and you are more likely to receive more spam messages.

Activate Two-factor Authentication Security

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication adds a layer of protection to your accounts. If hackers have gained access to your password, they still cannot open your account. They will need a code or biometric confirmation before they can proceed to do so.

Two-factor authentication can be a code or PIN received via email or text message. It can even be a biometric measure like a retinal scan or fingerprint. 

All PINs and codes sent have an expiration. They can only be used within five minutes to fifteen minutes maximum.

Report Phishing Emails

You can report spam or phishing emails to your email providers. As it will alert the provider that such an attack is happening. They can update their system to recognize future attacks from the email address.

Never Give Out Sensitive Information

As much as possible, never share anything confidential online. If you need to, make sure to check out the website by typing the link on the browser. Go to the contact and try to confirm the legitimacy.

Also, make sure that you don’t post anything sensitive or private on social media. Hackers can check on them to gain access to your accounts or use it to bait you to one of their schemes.

Conclusion

Phishing attacks are the most prevalent form of threat online. With billions of phishing emails sent daily, one might become a victim without the proper knowledge. The best way is to learn how to spot an attack, secure devices, be wary of sharing your information, and always update.

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