Phishing

What Is Phishing and How to Protect Against It?

Technology

Global internet usage crosses the mark of 4.66 billion active users worldwide in 2021. That’s 59.5% of the world population. So you see, now more than half of the world – including young adults and children – are attached to the paradigm of “cyberism,” where there is not only convenient access to valuable information – from online reading, remote working, banking to shopping and gaming, but there are also cyber-threats like phishing. 

Internet users have been profusely made aware and educated to call the bluff of phishing attacks. Have you been keeping a tab? If not, here are some simple, layman’s guidelines about what phishing really is, and what you can do to stay protected against it. 

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is among the oldest tricks of cyber breaching and is still the most effective one to drop a victim in the trap. Cyber hackers typically grab the victim’s attention by manipulating their emotions through highly catchy content like breaking news or fake emails of credit card statements, or something of common interest, like online gambling promotions that allure readers by posing to be a legitimate platform, where users could play and win real cash! All you have to do is click on a link! Doing so, while on the user end, it redirects you to a new webpage; on the server-side, the transaction is capable of opening a secret gateway for the hacker to access your valuable data, like banking details. So much for virtual reality that transcribes the realities of the world with scammers looking for ways to exploit human emotion, to steal or wreak malice for personal gain. 

But here is the thing, we need to stay updated with breaking news, we need our credit card statements, and there are the sites for online poker games, where punters can really, legitimately win real money! We cannot stop doing all these things because of cyber-threats. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of conscious internet usage, that’s all!

What Sectors Are Most Vulnerable to Phishing Attacks 

Streamlining some of the most vulnerable areas to cyber breaches include not only money-oriented sectors like banking, economy or large organizations but also small to medium businesses, employees and even students. This has much to do with the fact that large companies, banks and the public sector usually have stringent security measures, while small businesses and normal home computers have pretty generic security infrastructure that is easily decoded by mastering hackers!

Advisory firms belonging to domains of law, architecture and financing are highly vulnerable to phishing attacks, wherein the attackers are not always after money but after valuable information. 

Education sectors are also quite sensitive to the threat. Here also, it is not money that the attackers are after but answer sheets, enrolments, track records that can be meddled with. 

Another thing is online casinos, that has many scammers claiming how you have won a humongous prize lottery, and all you have to do is share your bank details! Well, that’s about money! 

Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks 

The first step towards protecting yourself against any threat is to “know your enemy”. Now, fighting with an enemy like Phishing, there may be many unknown factors, but one thing is common for sure, phishing attacks capitalize on links – links that look like they are something that is going to change your life! Do the following things to stay away from Phishing Attacks.  

  • Do not click links on emails, especially the emails or newsletters you did not subscribe to  

Beware of advertisement where you are promised something amazing. For example, maybe you have searched a mortgage loan but did not get a proper offer. But suddenly, you get an email from an unknown source proposing your eligibility to loan out a massive amount of money – you should rather delete such emails. 

  • Stay away from online casino scams – always use source websites for online gambling  

Online gambling has become a sensational thing in many countries. And a licensed casino is a highly secure and regularised place to play online casino card games, slot games, roulette and even new-age instant games and lottery. But content relating to casino offers is one of the most common tools used by hackers to induce a phishing attack. So here’s the rule of the thumb, never follow the links on advertisements or emails. If you want to check out the site, then simply memorize (or save) the casino name and Google it! You will find tons of secure links that would verify if the claims in the advertisement or emails are really true or not. Hear it directly from the casino website, only then believe it. 

  • How to tell apart suspicious links 

Now, what does a suspicious link look like? Spelling errors of popular brand names, messages with tons of emoticons, a company that is promising something great from a Gmail or Yahoo email account!  Annoying online pop-up messages, often have a flashing light effect and garish, colourful fonts. 

  • Do use cybersecurity software with an anti-phishing feature
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Well, here is the thing. If a master hacker is really after you, then they can crack open most of the conventional cybersecurity software barriers before you can scream cyberattack! But usually, if you have one of these installed, they can do their best by protecting your device against suspicious links and warn you before entering suspicious sites.

Much like the fight between good and evil, the battle of new and innovative cyberattacks and evolving cybersecurity is never-ending. But don’t be scared, rather be confident. Follow some simple rules of safe internet browsing, and you could stay on the safe side! 

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