Cyber Security: How To Protect Against Phishing Attacks and Scams

11 mins read

Phishing scams are one of the most common types of cybercrime. In fact, they’ve become so common that almost everyone has been a victim at some point or another.

Phishing emails are especially dangerous because they can be very convincing and look like they come from a legitimate source.

This blog post will discuss exactly what does phishing mean, common  phishing attacks, scams and the best ways you can protect yourself against them. 

Phishing 101: What is phishing?

Before we get into how to protect against phishing, let’s first be clear on what it is. Phishing is a type of cyberattack that uses fraudulent emails or websites to trick victims into revealing personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

So named because it’s a type of fishing where the attacker throws out a line (in the form of an email or website) and hopes to hook someone.

The attackers usually do this by possessing a legitimate company or person and using official-looking logos and branding. They may even create a fake website that looks identical to the real thing.

When you click on a link in a phishing email or enter your information into a phishing website, the attackers can use that information to steal your money or identity. There are many different types of phishing attacks, but some of the most common include:

What are the most common phishing attacks?

Phishing attacks

Awareness is key when it comes to phishing attacks. The more you know about the most common types of attacks, the better equipped you’ll be to protect yourself. Some of the most common phishing attacks include:

Email phishing

By far, the most common type of phishing attack is email phishing. This is when attackers send out mass emails impersonating a legitimate company or person.

This email will usually look very official and will often include logos, branding, and even the same color scheme as the real company.

The email will usually contain a link that takes you to a fake website where you’re asked to enter personal information. It may also ask you to download an attachment that contains malware.

How do you spot a phishing email:

There are a few things you can look for to spot a phishing email. First, check the sender’s address. If it’s not from the company or person, it claims to be, that’s a red flag.

It would help if you also were suspicious of any email that asks you to click on a link or download an attachment without first explaining what it is. Please don’t click on a link automatically; instead, let your cursor hover over it to see where it’s taking you.

Finally, be wary of any email that creates a sense of urgency or fear. This is often used as a way to get people to act without thinking.

For example, an email might say that your account has been hacked and you need to change your password immediately. Or, it might say that you need to confirm your account information or else it will be suspended.

Finally, be wary of any email with poor grammar or spelling mistakes. These are often signs that the email is not from a legitimate source. Look out for these red flags, and you’ll be less likely to fall victim to an email phishing scam.

Website phishing

Website phishing is similar to email phishing, but instead of using an email, the attacker will create a fake website that looks identical to the real thing.

They may even use a slightly different URL (such as .co instead of .com) to make the website look legitimate.

If you’re not sure if a website is legitimate, you can always do a quick Google search to see if there are any reports of it being a phishing scam.

How to avoid phishing websites:

There are a few different ways you can avoid phishing websites. The first is to install an anti-phishing toolbar in your browser. This will help to block any known phishing sites from loading.

You should also be careful about the links you click on. If you’re not sure if a website is legitimate, don’t click on any links. Look at the links given carefully and hover (but don’t click!) over any links to see where they’re taking you. If the URL looks suspicious, don’t click on it.

Malware phishing

Malware phishing is a type of phishing attack that uses malware to infect your computer. If you’re not familiar with malware, it’s basically software that is designed to damage or disable your computer.

Malware can be installed on your computer without you even knowing it. Once it’s installed, the attacker can then use it to steal your personal information or take control of your computer. Some examples of malware include viruses, Trojan horses, and spyware.

One type of malware phishing attack is known as ransomware. This is when the attacker encrypts your personal files and then demands a ransom to decrypt them.

How to avoid malware phishing attacks:

The best way to avoid a malware phishing attack is to be very careful about the emails you open and the attachments you download. Malware can get into your computer through email attachments or by clicking on a malicious link.

If you’re not sure if an email is legitimate, don’t open it. And if you’re not sure about an attachment, don’t download it.

You should also have a good antivirus program installed on your computer. This will help to block any malicious software from being installed in the first place.

Spear phishing

The play on words here is that this type of phishing is more targeted than the other methods. So instead of mass emails, the attacker will carefully select their victims and craft personalized emails.

This may include using the victim’s name, job title, or even specific information about their company. The goal is to make the email seem like it’s coming from a trusted source.

Businesses have a lot to lose from spear phishing attacks. This is because the attacker often has much more information about their target, making the email seem more legitimate.

How to avoid spear phishing attacks:

The best way to avoid a spear phishing attack is to be suspicious of any email that comes from an unfamiliar sender. Even if the email looks legitimate, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Employees of a company should be briefed and trained on what to look for in a spear phishing email. This way, they can quickly spot an attack and report it to the IT department.

What to do if you think you’re being phished?

While it’s better to avoid being phished in the first place, sometimes attackers can be very convincing.

But if you realize too late that you’re being phished, there are still a few things you can do. First, change any passwords that you may have given out.

Then, run a virus scan on your computer to check for any malware that may have been installed.

Finally, report the incident to the proper authorities so they can investigate and take action against the attacker.

What are some anti-phishing software you can look into?

There are a few different types of anti-phishing software. The most common is an anti-phishing toolbar. These are usually browser extensions that will block known phishing websites from loading.

Some antivirus programs also have anti-phishing features built-in. This means they can help to block malicious websites and attachments from loading.

Businesses, in particular, can benefit from Phishing Tackle’s phishing awareness training  software or platform that identifies and blocks phishing emails. It also provides employees with training on how to spot a phishing email.

Final thoughts

Phishing attacks are becoming more and more common, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself. By being aware of the different types of phishing scams and taking measures to avoid them, you can help to keep yourself and your computer safe.

Harold Gutts

I'm a staff writer here at Gentechreview. I track everything in the consumer tech space, from headphones to smartphones, and wearables to home theater systems.

I have a background in Information Technology and spent several years working in product development before making the jump into journalism. I love getting my hands on new gadgets and trying them out for myself, then writing about my experiences for others.

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