Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target is contacted by email, phone, voice, or text message by someone posing as a legitimate business or organization. Their goal? To lure you into revealing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords
So how do you stay safe from phishing attacks?
The best way to protect yourself against phishing is to learn more about the goals of cybercriminals and the methods they use to phish. That’s why we’ve put together a handy list of common things to look out for!
Common Features of Phishing Messages:
- Too Good to Be True - Attention-grabbing statements in subject lines are designed to attract people’s attention immediately. Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Sense of Urgency - Cybercriminals will ask you to act fast because the deals are only for a limited time. When you come across these emails it is best to ignore them. Most reliable organizations give ample time before they terminate an account and will never ask users to update their account details over the Internet. When in doubt, visit the source directly rather than clicking a link in an email.
- Hyperlinks - Remember: cybercriminals want your account credentials. Oftentimes in order to get a password, they will include a link in the email that takes you to a website that appears legitimate but isn’t. When you “sign-in” on a cybercriminals website, your account credentials have been compromised. With that in mind, a link may not be what it appears to be.
We recommend hovering over the link to display the actual web address of the link. It could be completely different than what it is pretending to be, or it could be very similar but slightly misspelled. Be extra vigilant for these clues before clicking on any links in an email.
- Attachments - The same applies to attachments! A cybercriminal may be attempting to distribute malware via a phishing campaign. To do this, they will often include attachments in the phishing email with the hopes that a user will download them onto a device. If you were not expecting an email, or you don’t recognize the sender, do not open any attachments in the email. These will download onto your device and can contain malware.
- Unusual or Unknown Sender - Whether it looks like it’s from someone you don’t know, or from someone you do know, if anything seems unusual, out of character, or suspicious in general, don’t click on it! You can always forward a suspicious email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you aren’t sure.
Learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month