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How to Recognize and Avoid Email Phishing Scams

How to Recognize and Avoid Email Phishing Scams

April 20, 2021

By Lilit Khlghatyan in Business Security Technology

Phishing is a common type of cybercrime in which scammers pose as a trustworthy source in order to obtain confidential information or data from you.

Scammers are interested in your personal data in order to gain access to your bank accounts or credit cards. How do you avoid being one of these unfortunate victims? You should know how to spot phishing scams and never follow a link in a text or email presumably from a bank or other well-known organization.

Phishing is most commonly described as the mass mailing of letters and messages purporting to be from well-known brands, banks, payment systems, postal services, and social media platforms. A logo, an email, and a direct link to a site that is indistinguishable from the real one are usually included in such letters. Scammers force you to follow the link to the site of the “service” and, under various pretexts, enter confidential data in the appropriate forms. In this way fraudsters gain access to user accounts and bank accounts.

What is the purpose of phishing?

Phishing attacks can target both individuals and companies. The aim of most fraud attacks on individuals is to gain access to users’ logins, passwords, and account numbers for banking, payment, social networks, and postal services. In addition, the purpose of a phishing attack may be to install malware on the victim’s computer.

Not all phishers cash out the accounts they have access to on their own. From a practical standpoint, cashing out accounts is a daunting task. In addition, it is easier to catch a person involved in cashing in and bring a criminal group to justice. As a result, after obtaining confidential information, some phishers sell it to other scammers who use proven methods to withdraw money from their accounts.

In cases where phishing attacks target companies, the goal of cybercriminals is to obtain the account details of an employee and then conduct an advanced attack on the company.

Types and techniques of phishing attacks

The main phishing techniques include:

Social engineering techniques

Posing as representatives of well-known companies, phishers most often inform recipients that they urgently need to transfer or update their personal data. This requirement is motivated by data loss, system breakdown, or other reasons. 

Phishing organizers attempt to frighten the user and elicit an immediate response. An email with the subject line “to regain access to your account…”, for example, is thought to catch the recipient’s attention and compel them to click on the connection for more details.

Fraudulent phishing

The most popular form of phishing attack is fraudulent phishing. This method allows fraudsters to send emails to millions of email addresses in a matter of hours. 

To steal personal data, special phishing sites are created that imitate a real site. Phishers will do this by using URLs with insignificant typos or subdomains. A phishing site has a similar design and does not arouse suspicion among the users.

Fraudulent phishing is the most common method used by phishers and, at the same time, the least safe method used by attackers.

Spear phishing

Spear phishing targets specific people rather than broad groups of users. Most often, this method is the first step to overcome the company’s defenses and conduct a targeted attack on it. In such situations, attackers use social media and other services to study their victims, adapting their messages and acting more convincingly.

Whaling attack

“Whale hunting” refers to the pursuit of sensitive information from top executives and other VIPs. In this situation, phishers spend a significant amount of time determining the intended victim’s personality characteristics in order to determine the best time and method for stealing credentials.

Virus distribution

Fraudsters seek to harm individuals or groups of individuals by stealing personal data. The link in a phishing email will download a malicious virus to your computer, such as a keylogger, Trojan, or spyware, when you click it.

How can you protect yourself from phishing?

Experts advise users to contact the company on whose behalf the message was sent to verify the authenticity of the email in response to an email “confirmation” of an account or any other similar request . In addition, enter your organization’s URL yourself in the address bar instead of using any hyperlinks.

Almost all authentic messages from services provide details that phishers can’t get, such as a name or the last four digits of an account number. Any letters that do not include any certain personal details, on the other hand, should be treated with caution.

Remember that phishing sites can hide behind pop-ups. Also, targeted advertising can run on them. The user may see his email address in the “login” column when trying to log in and may be asked to enter the password in the lower column. You can also meet a link to a phishing site in comments on forums and social networks. A link can also be sent to you by a hacked account of your friend or acquaintance. It is better not to follow a letter or a link that arouses suspicion.

The fight can also be on a technical level:

  • Some browsers alert users of phishing attacks and keep their own lists of phishing sites;
  • By enhancing their spam filters and analyzing phishing emails, email services combat phishing in messages;
  • Large businesses are also complicating the authorization process, providing users with additional personal data protection.

Pay attention to the payment system’s security certificate – the domain name appears in the browser’s address bar like https: /…

Change the router’s factory passwords to something more complicated every six months, and make sure the software is up to date.

Do not shop over public Wi-Fi. Antivirus for your smartphone can provide additional protection.

Before making a payment in an unfamiliar online store, read reviews about it online.

Conclusion

Cyberattacks have long been a part of our life. Fraud protection is a global challenge for corporations and startups that develop financial, e-commerce and other services. But users should not forget about simple steps in order not to fall for the hook of an attacker.

Phishing is a huge threat because it is not only the cause of money loss for many users, but also the main reason for the leakage of company data. However, as we have shown in this article, in most cases, the intentions of cybercriminals are easy to recognize and prevent.

avatarLilit Khlghatyan is a content writer at easydmarc.com. She writes content on email protection and cybersecurity. EasyDMARC offers phishing protection with DMARC, DKIM and SPF checker.

This is a featured article, originally posted by www.sitepronews.com. This article can be read in it’s original format here.

About Michael Boguslavskiy

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Michael Boguslavskiy is a full-stack developer & online presence consultant based out of New York City. He's been offering freelance marketing & development services for over a decade. He currently manages Rapid Purple - and online webmaster resources center; and Media Explode - a full service marketing agency.

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