Do You Know How To Spot A Phishing Email?

How To Spot A Phishing Email

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.

Hacker sending phishing email

What Is Phishing?

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.

Why Does Phishing Work?

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).

Seven Tips for Detecting a Phishing Email

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:

  1. Watch For Overly Generic Content And Greetings: Cybercriminals will send a large batch of emails. Look for examples like “Dear valued customer.”
  2. Examine The Entire From Email Address: The first part of the email address may be legitimate, but the last part might be off by a letter or may include a number in the usual domain (a look alike domain).
  3. Look For Urgency Or Demanding Actions: “You’ve won! Click here to redeem a prize,” or “We have your browser history pay now or we are telling your boss.”
  4. Carefully Check All Links: Mouse over the link and see if the link’s destination matches where the email implies you will be taken.
  5. Notice Misspellings, Incorrect Grammar, and Odd Phrasing: This might be a deliberate attempt to try and bypass spam filters or a sign the author is not a native English speaker.
  6. Check For Secure Websites: Any webpage where you enter personal information should have a url with https//. The “s” stands for secure.
  7. Don’t Click On Attachments Right Away: Virus containing attachments might have an intriguing message encouraging you to open them such as “Here is the Schedule I promised.”

Put simply?

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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