Tips for Staying Safe Online: How to Avoid Being Reeled in By Phishing Scams
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7 months ago
Don’t click strategy. If you get an email from your bank or government agencies like the IRS, instead of clicking on a link in the email, go directly to the website itself.
Look out for misspellings or strange characters in the sender’s email address. Phishing attempts often rely on look-alike domains or ‘from’ emails to encourage clicks. Common tactics are extra or switched letters (microsogft[.]com), omissions (microsft[.]com) or characters that look alike (the letter o and 0, or micr0soft[.]com).
Here's a classic brand impersonation phish, using Chase as the trusted lure:
Think before clicking links to “unlock account” or “update payment details.” Technology services were one of the top industries to be used in phishing campaigns, due to the personal information that can be found in our email, online storage, and social media accounts. Hover over a link and confirm it’s a URL you’re familiar with before clicking.
Be wary of financial-related messages. Financial institutions are the most likely industry to be phished, so pause and assess any messages asking to accept or make a payment.
Look out for messages that create a sense of urgency. Emails or text messages that warn of a final chance to pick up a package, or last chance to confirm an account, are likely fake. The rise in online shopping during the pandemic has made retail and logistics/shipping companies a hot target for these types of phishing attempts.
Both financial and package delivery scams typically use the SMS phishing attack, or smishing, and are related to the attacker’s use of SMS messages to lure the victims. Cloudflare was the target of this type of phishing a few months ago (it was stopped). Next, we show you an example of a text message from that thwarted attack:
If things sound too good to be true, they probably are. Beware of "limited time offers" for free gifts, exclusive services, or great deals on trips to Hawaii or the Maldives. Phishing emails target our senses of satisfaction, pleasure, and excitement to compel us to make split second decisions without thinking things through. These types of tactics are lures for a user to click on a link or provide sensitive information. Pause, even if it's for a few seconds, and quickly look up the offer online to see if others have received similar offers.
Very important message from a very important… Phishing emails sometimes mimic high-ranking individuals, urging urgent action such as money transfers or credential sharing. Scrutinize emails with such requests, and verify their authenticity. Contact your manager if the sender is a CEO. For unfamiliar politicians, assess the request's feasibility before responding.
The message body is full of errors (but beware of AI tools). Poor grammar, spelling, and sentence structure may indicate that an email is not from a reputable source. That said, recent AI text tools have made it easier for hackers or bad actors to create convincing and error-free copies.
Romance scam emails. These are emails where scammers adopt a fake online identity to gain a victim's affection and trust. They may also send an email that appears to have been sent in error, prompting the recipient to respond and initiating a conversation with the fraudster. This tactic is used to lure victims.
Use a password manager. Password managers will verify if the domain name matches what you expect, and will warn you if you try to fill in your password on the wrong domain name.