In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, let’s examine one of the most common cybercrime tactics in use today – phishing.
Unfortunately, Phishing is a very familiar term these days.
It’s a persistent and evolving threat, with new variations popping up to target unsuspecting businesses.
But the thing about phishing? No matter which tactics a hacker chooses to use, if you can recognize the warning signs, you can simply avoid a whole lot of trouble.
Phishing is a fraudulent act in which a criminal steals private and sensitive information such as credit card numbers, account usernames, and passwords.
The criminal uses a fairly straightforward set of social engineering and basic design strategies to lure email recipients into believing that an email is legitimate. It’s only later that the phishing victim realizes that their personal identity and other confidential data was stolen.
Phishing succeeds when a cybercriminal uses fraudulent emails or texts, and counterfeit websites to get you to share your personal or business information like your login passwords, Social Security Number, account numbers, or other important information. They often do this to rob you of your identity and steal your money.
Phishing emails are typically crafted to deliver a sense of urgency and importance. The message within these emails often appears to be from the government, a bank or a major corporation and can include realistic-looking logos, the correct branding, as well as embedded links that appear to be genuine.
The scammer will typically insist that you click on a link in an email or reply with confidential information to verify an account. They may also attempt to install ransomware on your computer that will lock you out of your files until you pay a fee (the ransom).
Make sure that you and your staff are always on the lookout for suspicious emails, as they are likely part of a phishing scam – but how can you know for sure?
Effective IT security often comes down to simply knowing what to look for:
Cybercriminals will do whatever it takes to seem like they’re an official or familiar source. They will research you and your employees on social media, copy a superior’s email signature, scare the employee into action by creating a false sense of urgency, and more, just to get the recipient to act without thinking.
It’s up to you to stay vigilant, think before you click, and follow cybersecurity best practices. Don’t forget to make sure your employees are doing the same.
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