We live in a world of technological evolution which continues to gather an alarming pace. While there are many benefits to these advances, there are downsides too. Today we’re talking about our old friend the internet and specifically the rising threat of phishing.
If you’ve never been caught in or indeed heard of a ‘phishing scam’, you are one of the lucky ones. Literally millions of people have been, to further lend from the angling terminology, caught; hook, line and sinker
When phishing first hit the headlines, it was crude and full of Nigerian princes who wished to share their inherited wealth with you. However, because it was a relatively new concept, it still caught many people out despite its lack of finesse. But as time has gone on, phishing has become something of an art. Okay, perhaps we should say black art, but whatever we liken it to, contemporary phishing becomes highly sophisticated and in some cases, extremely believable.
The criminals who design current scams recreate company logos and wordmarks so that the communications look like the real thing. People get fooled into giving away personal information because they think they are dealing with tried and trusted firms. Of course, they’re not, and that’s how the trouble starts.
There are a number of things that you can and should do yourself when it comes to spotting phishing scams. You’ll find plenty of sound advice online.
What legitimate businesses say about fraudulent communications
All legitimate businesses mostly offer the same advice when it comes to phishing scams or any sort of fraudulent communications. They say that they will never send you unsolicited messages and that they will never ask you for any personal details over the internet. It is worth bearing this in mind, but if you think you are dealing with your own bank, for example, you could easily drop your guard.
The real tell-tale sign when looking for phishing scams though is the address from whence the communication came. If it is not a web address you recognise as being that particular company’s address, the alarm bells should start ringing.
There are some software packages on the market that have been designed to stop phishing communications and other forms of malware. They are, however, mostly geared toward businesses and are therefore quite expensive. They include programs like the phishing protection software offered by Mimecast.
You might be interested to know that Windows does have phishing protection for Office 365. To use it you must first ensure that you add Office 365 to your subscription.
Keep your wits about you
When all is said and done, the easiest and cheapest way to avoid phishing scams is to use your head. Bone up on the things to look out for that could indicate a fraudulent communication (as mentioned above) and keep your wits about you.