What is phishing and how to avoid phishing scams
by Kirsten Dunlaevy
May 6, 2014
Phishing is a word we hear a lot of these days, but how many of you actually know what it is? Phishing is a type of internet fraud, stealing passwords, credit card numbers, and other private and personal information. Typically Phishing attacks come in the form of false notification emails from your bank, and other official organisations that might house your valuable information. These emails will inform you of an issue, usually something along the lines of a system breakdown, and urge you to update your personal information/password to avoid your account being blocked or frozen. One of the reasons that phishing attacks tend to work quite well is because they are based in fear. When you receive an email like that, you’re frightened, motivated to supply the information due to a sense of anxiety, anxiety for the unknown and concern for what might happen if you don’t respond immediately.
How can I avoid phishing scams?
The internet is constantly scanned for phishing sites. Anti-phishing filters receive updates on new threats fairly quickly, typically the average lifetime of a phishing site is only 5 days. And while that may not seem like too long of a timeline, don’t be fooled they can acquire a massive amount of data in that time period. Cyber criminals are getting smarter and better at making their emails and sites look like straight replications of trusted organizations. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference, your best bet is to take a quick look at the URL, it may resemble the real URL but it will be slightly off what it should be. But really, the number one red flag is if you’re asked to enter confidential information on the same page as the email or message. No legitimate organization would ever ask that of you. eBay and PayPal are two of the most popular phishing targets, simply due to how many people have accounts with those sites. On average phishing victims in the US lose $1,244 each. Phishing attacks rely on low awareness levels, so it’s important to always be alert and focused when dealing with any information from sites that deal with your personal, valuable information. If you feel like there may be something slightly off, listen to your gut, jump on the phone with your organization instead of responding to the email.