The Internet is a great source of information and entertainment but it has some demerits too. While working online we need to be much alert in order to avoid being a victim of such problems.
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What is Phishing?
Phishing is also a security threat online that you need to be aware of.
Phishing, not to be confused with the recreational activity “fishing”, is a form of internet fraud which is designed to trick you into giving up personal and confidential information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, user ID’s and passwords over the internet.
The word is derived from the idea that the artists use “bait” in an e-mail message to an ocean of internet users.
How Can a Phishing E-mail Be Recognized?
That’s a good question; the criminals using this method are very clever and do a good job attempting to duplicate the appearance of a legitimate company website.
They come close to duplicating the company’s logo, and the website is very close in appearance to the legitimate company site. There are a few characteristics, however, that are shared by Phishing e-mails.
They can be:
- A generic greeting, as opposed to a personalized one, you know, Dear Valued Customer, or something like that. A legitimate e-mail would use your name.
- A false sense of urgency, such as “Your account has been suspended due to suspicious activity” or “Verity your account information, or it will be closed in 24 hours”. A Phishing e-mail wants to generate a sense of urgency, or panic in you so you will quickly respond by clicking on the link and giving up your personal information.
- A request to verify your account information. The Phishing e-mail will build upon the urgency of the message, and state that your account information must be verified immediately.
- A link to click on to gain access to your account. A Phishing e-mail will conveniently provide you with a link to click to get direct access to your account or to verify your account information.
- Other things to check to see if an e-mail message is legitimate or a Phishing email would include: misspelled words, typographical errors, bad grammar, pop-up boxes or attachments.
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How to Protect From Phishing?
You ask is there any way I can protect myself from these Phishing e-mails. Yes, there are several things you can do to protect yourself, here are some suggestions.
- Be skeptical. If you have any doubts at all about the validity of a message, it is best to be cautious.
- Phishing e-mails are designed to look legitimate. There is nothing wrong with calling your company directly.
- Use a telephone number that you find printed on a letter or account that was mailed to you directly from the company. Do not use the telephone number that may appear on the Phishing e-mail.
- Most companies will never send an e-mail message asking you to verify or provide confidential information. Companies usually have a statement to this effect listed on their websites.
- Never click on a hyperlink in an e-mail message. If you receive a message that requests you log into your account, you can always open a new browser window and type the web address you know to be accurate into the address bar. Phishing e-mail con artists are clever and will have the hyperlinks look legitimate.
- Keep up to date with your Windows security patches, virus and spyware definitions. A lot of these Phishing e-mails contain a form of spyware in them. If someone is trying to steal your personal information via Phishing e-mail, that is to stop them from sending another form of spyware program along with the message.
- Bottom line is the best way to protect you from Phishing e-mail scams is to make it a policy cut in stone never to reply to unsolicited requests for personal information. If you want to verify the legitimacy of a message, call the company directly, and use a number you have received from the company in a statement. Talk to a representative of the company directly.