Phishing attacks are on the rise, and cybersecurity experts are sounding the alarm. These attacks use fraudulent emails and websites to try to steal your personal information, such as your login credentials and credit card numbers, as well as sensitive data that small and medium-sized businesses may host on company computers or networks.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your business from these types of cyberattacks. Email filters can help protect you from malicious links and attachments, and cybersecurity awareness can help you and your employees spot suspicious emails.
In this article, we’ll look at what phishing is, how it works, and the best ways to protect yourself from it.
Don't Reveal Sensitive Information
When it comes to cybersecurity, one of the most important rules is to never reveal sensitive information like personal and financial info via email. This is because email is not a secure communications channel, and cybercriminals can easily capture this information in transit.
If you need to send sensitive information, consider using a secure messaging app or encrypted email service. These services will encrypt your messages, making it much harder for cybercriminals to intercept and read them.
Check the Security of Websites
One of the best ways to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to check the security of websites you visit. You can do this by checking to see if the website uses HTTPS.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or "HTTPS," is a secure communications protocol that helps protect your data from being intercepted by cybercriminals. When you see the HTTPS prefix in the address bar of your web browser, it means that the website is using this protocol.
If a website doesn’t use HTTPS, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily unsafe. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and only visit websites that do use HTTPS.
Pay Attention to Website URLs
When browsing the internet, it’s important to pay attention to the website URLs and look for variations in spelling or domain names. This is because cybercriminals often use fake websites to phish for personal information. An example of this would be "www.homdepot.com" instead of "www.homedepot.com". This is called "typosquatting" and it's very easy to fall prey to.
The best way to protect yourself from these fake websites is to check the website’s URL carefully and the site's security certificate. You can do this by clicking on the padlock icon in your web browser’s address bar. This will bring up information about the website’s security certificate, including who issued it and when it expires.
If you see a warning message or an error message, that means the website is using an invalid or expired security certificate. Do not enter any personal information on these websites, as it could be used by cybercriminals.
Verify Suspicious Email Requests
In addition to checking the security of websites, it’s also important to verify suspicious email requests. This can be done by looking for certain clues that indicate an email is fake.
Some of the most common clues that an email is fake include poor grammar and spelling mistakes, mismatched sender information, and generic greetings like “Dear Valued Customer.”
If you receive an email that looks suspicious, do not respond to it. Instead, reach out to the company or individual that supposedly sent the email using another method, such as a phone call or a verified email address.
Beware of emails requesting information. Another common type of phishing attack is known as “spoofing.” This is when cybercriminals send an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate company or organization but is actually fake. These emails often request personal information, such as login credentials or credit card numbers. They may also contain attachments or links that, if clicked, will download malware onto your computer.
If you receive an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate company but seems suspicious, do not respond to it. Instead, contact the company directly to inquire about the email. Do not use the contact information provided in the email, as it may be fake.
Keep a Clean Machine
A computer with the latest OS, software, antivirus, and malware protection is important for protecting yourself from phishing attacks. These security measures will help protect your computer from being infected with malware, which can be used to capture your personal information.
In addition, it’s important to keep your web browser and email client up to date. These updates often include security patches that can help protect you from phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Email filters can help block malicious emails, and cybersecurity awareness can help you spot suspicious emails. When browsing the internet, pay attention to website URLs and security certificates. And be wary of any email that requests personal information or seems suspicious in any way. By following these simple tips, you can help keep yourself safe from phishing attacks.