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How to safeguard against phishing during the coming holiday season

Phishing is one of the main tools in the cyber fraudsters’ armoury.

It's pernicious and widespread and the cleverer the crooks are the more sophisticated are the phishing emails they create.

At first glance phishing emails look to be from a legitimate company or organisation and this can fool even the most eagle-eyed among us.

To keep yourself safe from phishing attacks consider the following points:

Be super cautious about emails that:
  • Come from unrecognised senders even if it appears to be a legitimate organisation
  • Ask you to confirm personal or financial information and/or make urgent requests for this information
  • Try to frighten you into acting quickly by threatening you with something such as data loss or bank

Be extra careful about revealing personal information
  • When shopping online look for the lock icon in the browser’s status bar or an ‘https:’ URL. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’  ‘http’ with the ‘s’ at the end means it’s not secure
  • Beware of phone phishing schemes. Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you made the call.
  • Be cautious of emails that ask you to call a phone number to update your account information as well.

Don’t click on links or download files or open attachments in emails that have come from unknown senders.
  • Only open attachments only when you are expecting them and you know what they contain
  • Don’t email personal or financial information. You don’t know who might gain access to your email account in the future, or even the account of the person you are emailing.
 

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Beware of links in emails that ask for personal information even if the email appears to come from an organisation you are familiar with or have had dealings with:
  • Phishing web sites often copy in detail a legitimate web site, making it appear authentic.
  • Call the organisation first to see if they really sent an email to you.
  • Most businesses do not ask for personal information to be sent via email

Keep an eye on your online accounts
  • Check your online accounts and bank statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorised transactions have been made.

Protect your computer
  • Use antivirus software that provides a firewall, spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • Look for antivirus software that uses behavioural-based protection, that is, it can detect and block newly released malware
Filed under: Internet Security

Written by Steve Bell

Steve has a background in IT and business journalism and has written extensively for both the UK national and trade press including The Guardian, Independent-on-Sunday, The Times, The Register, MicroScope and Computer Weekly. He's also worked for most of the world's largest IT companies producing content producing. He has a particular focus on IT security and has produced several magazines in this area.

More articles by Steve Bell

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