The internet has brought a new level of ease and convenience to our lives. Whether you want to watch movies, jump on a video call with friends and family, or work from anywhere in the world, you can do so at the click of a button — all thanks to the internet.
The internet has brought us many wonderful benefits, but along with it also came some downsides. While many people choose to ignore the dangers of the internet, it’s not something you should overlook. The internet can be an extremely dangerous place.
Cybercriminals have been targeting victims ever since the dawn of the internet age, and if you’re not aware of the methods and tactics they use you could fall victim to them. The main method that hackers use to target their victims is phishing. Phishing is dangerous, and if you’re not aware of how it works, there is a risk of falling into a devastating trap. Keep reading to find out more about phishing and how you can spot it before it’s too late.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is the most common method that cybercriminals use to install malicious software on their victim’s devices. Hackers also use phishing to steal your data such as login credentials, personal information, and even banking details. Essentially, phishing is the first step in the process of a cybercriminal’s plan. But how does it all work?
In its most basic form, phishing is incredibly simple. For many years it always manifested in the form of emails. The idea behind phishing is to urge the victim to click on a link or an attachment in the email. Once they interact with either of these items, the hacker will have the upper hand and one of two things could happen.
The first is that malicious software can be installed on your device. Malware, as it’s more commonly known, is extremely dangerous and it comes in several different forms. The most common types of malware that your device might encounter are viruses, spyware, and ransomware. All forms of malware are dangerous and should be taken seriously — we’ll discuss the perfect solution to malware further below in this article.
Alternatively, you could be directed to a fraudulent website that has been set up by the cybercriminal. The website will be rigged with a keylogger, which is a form of software that will copy everything you type into the website and give it straight to the cybercriminal. This allows them to steal anything you type into the website including your personal information, login credentials, and banking details.
Phishing has developed significantly over the years though, and it has become more and more difficult to spot. Hackers understand that the majority of internet users won’t fall for the old Nigerian Prince scam anymore, so they’ve had to get a bit more creative. Cybercriminals are using social engineering to manipulate and deceive their victims into falling for phishing scams.
The key is to use emotional triggers to urge the victim to respond. This can involve posing as a person or company that they might know or trust. One example of social engineering is where the hacker will pose as your bank, replicating their emails — from logos to color schemes, which makes it difficult for you to spot the phishing scam.
Moreover, phishing scams have spilled over into other avenues too. Hackers are no longer confined to emails, and these days they will even use social media accounts to trick their victims. For example, you might be contacted with the opportunity to win tickets to your favorite sporting event — all you need to do is click on a link and enter some of your details or log into an account.
How to Spot Phishing
With cybercriminals using social engineering to get the better of their victims, it can be extremely difficult to spot a potential phishing scam. Luckily though, there are some red flags that you can keep an eye out for that may allow you to spot a phishing scam before you fall victim to it.
The first thing you need to check is the sender’s email address. Every email address is unique, and if it’s not from the official company then it’s likely to be a scam. Before interacting with an email, make sure you check the email address is legitimate first.
If an email urges you to click on a link to change something on one of your accounts, it’s always best to take the long way around and go to the website. For example, if an email from Netflix informs you to update your banking details, avoid clicking on the link and open the Netflix website in a new tab instead.
If you get sent any messages on social media containing links, it’s always best to avoid clicking on those as well. Sometimes even people you know could have their profiles breached, and hackers can use their profiles to send phishing scams to people on their contact list.
How to Stay Safe Online
Even if you know what to look for, it can be incredibly difficult to spot modern phishing scams thanks to the development of social engineering. If you want to stay safe online, you need to make sure to install premium cybersecurity tools on your device.
There are many different types of cybersecurity tools to choose from, but the main tool you need to install on your device is antivirus software. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any viruses or other forms of malware. If any malware has been detected on your device, the antivirus software can take action to remove the malware from your device without it causing further damage.
It’s always a good idea to look out for antivirus software that has extra features available. The main feature to keep an eye out for is the ability to scan for potential phishing scams. The antivirus software’s library will be updated with millions of known phishing links and websites, which will give you an early warning before you fall into their trap.