Phishing has been a longstanding tool used by cybercriminals. Unfortunately, these attacks have persisted through the years because users continue to fall victim to them. Hackers have continued to develop new strategic phishing campaigns, making it even harder for users to spot one in their email. However, phishing scams are becoming extremely common with many being constructed with the same elements. Users must use strong cybersecurity awareness by understanding the common components of phishing attacks.
Know what to look for
There are multiple key indicators that can help users identify a phishing attack. Emails from unrecognizable contacts should be verified before engaging in communication or activity. Users should also look for email contacts that don’t match the actual email address. Additionally, misspellings are often found in phishing emails. Users should never respond or take a requested action from any email that makes them uncomfortable.
Be cautious of links
In most scenarios, links should be avoided even from familiar senders. Hackers will often disguise themselves as a member of an organization to send malicious attachments or links. If possible, users should always search the desired web page through a secure browser instead of relying on email links. Users can also hover over the link without clicking to see the actual destination.
Avoid unsecured websites
Hackers will often create phishing scams that imitate social media sites or other verified sites that require account creation. The scams will often have a link telling the user to reset their password. Many cybercriminals are able to set up fake sites that look identical to verified sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. However, users should always look for the padlock in the URL to determine if the site is safe or not.
Make data protection your highest priority
A user’s data consists of valuable information such as an email address, bank account information, phone number, and physical address. Users should always be mindful of this data and consider where this information exists on the internet. Minimal data sharing is highly recommended when creating accounts or conducting transactions on the web. Users that provide a substantial amount of personal information on the internet create opportunities for cybercriminals to create spear-phishing attacks - phishing scams that are highly targeted to a specific user or organization.
Consistently update systems and security tools
One common mistake that users make that leave them vulnerable to phishing attacks is avoiding system updates. Security patching must become a priority to help eliminate gaps that form over time. System updates are often created to address specific security flaws. Users who avoid these updates have no way of protecting themselves from various cyber attacks.
Hackers have continued to develop new strategic phishing campaigns, making it even harder for users to spot one in their email. Users must use strong cybersecurity awareness by understanding the common components of phishing attacks. Some best practices users should consider include knowing what to look for, being cautious of links, avoiding unsecured websites, prioritizing personal data security, and consistently updating systems with security patches.
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