Summer is quickly approaching and it is the perfect season to get outdoors and enjoy all the warm weather activities. From hiking on back country trails to picnics in the park, canoeing down the river and fishing in the lake, there is plenty to do with family and friends. There is something special about this time of year that makes it easy to let your guard down but when it comes to cyber safety, online risks, and email scams, you should always remain vigilant. For cybercriminals, it is always phishing season, so bolster your online security all through the year.
One of the most common forms of cybercrime are phishing scams. These attacks are thern carried out by criminals through fraudulent websites and fake emails in order to extract your personal information. The intention behind these cyber attacks are typically motivated by financial gain. Cybercriminals have remained busy over the last year with the 2016 Data Breach Investigation Report citing a significant rise in the number of phishing scams, compared to previous years. Just last month, a phishing scam that impersonated a Google Doc request swept the internet, targeting regular civilians and a few major media companies as well. While these threats remain constant, how can you prevent yourself from falling victim to a phishing scam? Fortunately, there are many effective ways to identify these particular crimes and minimize your risk of online identity theft.
Types of Phishing Scams and Protecting Your Identity
When it comes to phishing scams, there is no locale, industry, or organization that is safe from cybercriminals who wish to breach their data. Casting a wide net increases your susceptibility to these crimes, so it is important to learn how to identify the types of attacks in order to protect yourself. Here is an overview of some of the most common types of phishing scams:
- Phishing Websites - While most cyber attacks are carried out through email alone, cybercriminals will occasionally set up high-quality web pages to help them carry out their scam.
- Spear-Phishing - Cybercriminals will manage to extract specific details about their target and use this information to make their messages look like they appear from a trusted source. After that, all it takes is a simple message asking for money to hook their victim.
- Whaling - Similar to spear-phishing, whaling targets specific individuals within a business organization. However, whaling differs from spear-phishing because the targets are the higher-ups such as CEOs, presidents, and business owners. Confidential information is misused not just for financial gain, but it can also be used to the advantage of direct competitors.
- Phone Calls - Phishing scams do not exclusively occur online. Criminals may pose over the phone as your credit card company or even your bank, in order to gain access to your sensitive information.
How can you protect yourself against these types of phishing scams? Here is a look at how you can set up the best defense and protect your identity online:
- Think before you click - Do not click on attachments or embedded links in suspicious looking emails. Both are likely to infect your computer with malware. Instead, open a new window and type the URL into the address bar. Typically, phishing websites will look very similar to the original, so it is important to check the address bar in order to confirm the address.
- Do not share personal information - Do not submit sensitive information via forms embedded or attached to the email. Cybercriminals can track the data as you enter it.
- Beware of scare tactics - Be wary of emails that use scare tactics such as threats to close accounts or delay of services unless you update sensitive information. Legitimate financial institutions will never ask for personal information through email.
- Pay attention to errors - Keep an eye out for emails that contain generic-looking requests for information. For instance, most phishing emails will begin with the salutation “Dear Sir/Madam”. Also, ignore and delete emails that contain grammatical or spelling errors—reputed, professional organizations are careful to ensure quality communications.
- Update and maintain software - Reliable anti-viral software will protect you against any suspicious activity and authenticate legitimate sites.
Level Up Your Security with GlassHouse Systems
Phishing scams are almost unavoidable but that does not mean you are not equipped to build a strong defense against them. GlassHouse Systems serves as another effective tool to use in your arsenal against online security threats. We deliver high-quality protection services to help minimize your online risks and keep you safe.
Contact us to learn more or leave a comment below if you are looking for more tips to defend against phishing scams. We will be happy to discuss suitable solutions to protect your online identity and offer managed services delivered by our experienced team.