Have you ever received an email or text message assuring you that you won a luxury award? It may have included a link, and if you clicked on it, you probably landed on a website that asked you to fill out personal information, including your Social Security Number. 

The problem? These emails and text messages are part of a scam tool called phishing used by cybercriminals and a threat to your cybersecurity.

So, What’s Phishing?

Phishing is a cybercrime in which a person or company is contacted via email, phone, or text message by someone, posing as a trusted entity, to steal user data. This includes personally identifiable information, bank and credit card details, and passwords.

The recipient is tricked into clicking a malicious link, which can lead to the installation of malware, the freezing of the system as part of a ransomware attack, or the revealing of sensitive information. The ultimate goal is to access important accounts that can result in identity theft and/or financial loss.

Types of Phishing Attacks

Phishing has evolved into very highly specialized tactics and some specific types of phishing scams use more targeted methods to attack certain individuals or organizations.  

Standard Email Phishing

It’s the most widely known form of phishing. This attack is an attempt to steal sensitive information via an email that appears to be from a legitimate organization. It’s not a targeted attack and can be conducted en masse.

Spear Fishing

Spear phishing attackers will often gather information about their targets to fill emails with more authentic context. Some scammers even hijack business email communications and create highly customized messages.

Search Engine Phishing 

In this case, cybercriminals create fraudulent websites designed to collect personal information and direct payments. These sites can show up in organic search results or as paid advertisements.

Clone Phishing

Attackers can view legitimate, previously delivered email messages, make a nearly identical copy of them (clone), and then change an attachment or link to something malicious. 

Smishing 

SMS-enabled phishing delivers malicious short links to smartphone users, often disguised as account notices, prize notifications, and political messages.

Malware Phishing 

Utilizing the same techniques as email phishing, this attack encourages targets to click a link or download an attachment so malware can be installed on the device. 

How to Recognize Phishing

Scammers use email and text messages to trick you into giving them your information. They will try to steal your passwords, account logins, or social security numbers. If they get that information, they could access your email, bank, or other accounts.

These people often update their tactics, but here are some signs to help you recognize a phishing email or text message.

Too Good To Be True 

Lucrative offers and eye-catching statements are designed to grab people’s attention right away. For example, some emails claim that you have won an iPhone, a lottery, or some other luxury prize. Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So, just don’t click on any suspicious emails. 

Unusual Sender

Whether it looks like someone you don’t know is emailing you or something that seems out of the ordinary, unexpected, or just generally suspicious, don’t click on it.

Attached Files

If you see an attachment in an email that you didn’t expect or doesn’t make sense, don’t open it. They often contain payloads such as ransomware or other viruses. 

Sense of Urgency

A favorite tactic of cybercriminals is to ask you to act fast because the “super deals are for a limited time only”. Some will even tell you that you only have a few minutes to respond. When you come across these types of emails, it is best to ignore them. 

Keep in mind that reputable organizations allow enough time before canceling an account and never ask users to update their personal details over the Internet.

Hyperlinks 

A link may not be all that it seems. A good tip is to hover over a link to display the actual URL that you will be directed to upon clicking on it. It could be completely different or it could be a popular website with a misspelling. For example, www.chasebannk.com has an extra “n” in the middle. 

Prevent Phishing Attacks With S-FX Small Business Solutions 

S-FX Small Business Solutions is an NJ-based technology consulting agency that provided customized and cost-effective solutions for companies. We offer a combination of IT access management and web application security solutions to counter phishing attempts. Get in touch with us today and learn more about our top-notch services. 

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