WHAT IS PHISHING AND HOW TO AVOID IT
Phishing is probably one of the oldest tricks in the books of cyber criminals and truth be told, it doesn’t look like it's going anywhere soon. Ever since the advent of the internet, scammers, and fraudsters have been creating ways of getting your private information and phishing is one of their most reliable methods.
Phishing simply involves criminals tricking an online user into revealing private information like passwords, credit card information, social security details, social media accounts passwords, bank details. This is done by them pretending to be trustworthy and legitimate sources. While other methods of hacking focus on your hardware or software devices, phishing scams are designed to manipulate you the user by playing on your ignorance or emotions. Its all about tricking you to release information rather than actively stealing it.
The end point of all phishing scams is identity theft, once they get access to your information, they can then pretend to be you and do all kinds of things in your name, including buying things with your credit cards, soliciting for cash from your social media followers – you get the picture.
Phishing scams basically work in one of these two ways:
The cyber criminals may send a mail, SMS or WhatsApp message that looks like it's coming from your bank or social media account asking you to click on a link to verify your account details urgently. Clicking on the link will take the unsuspecting user to a fake website specially created for this purpose where he or she then hands over all their private details to these criminals freely. Other times, the phishing scam may be by phone – somebody calls you and pretends to be a staff of your bank, asking you to give some personal information in order to rectify some alleged discrepancies in your account.
Even though security agencies are meant to catch these criminals, the bulk of prevention falls on the individual user to find ways of protecting themselves from falling victims to phishing scams. Some practicable measures to protect yourself include:
- Make sure you only share personal information via secured websites. Secured websites always have ‘https’ rather than ‘http’ alone in their browser address or show a padlock sign in the address bar. You can make use of our website No Risk Domain to do a domain check and see if the website is safe or not.
- Avoid clicking on links or forms embedded in emails from unknown sources. Always check the address of that email to be 100% certain it came from your bank. If you are not sure it came from your bank, you can call their customer care services to make inquiries.
- Make sure you install an antivirus software on your computer and keep it updated. You should also run virus checks on your computer system from time to time to see if it has been compromised.
- Always update your browsers regularly and install an anti phishing toolbar if you can. Ensure that pop ups are blocked on your browser too and avoid clicking on any pop-up links for your own online safety. It’s also a good idea to install a firewall over your network and this will drastically reduce the phishing scams coming to you.