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When you learn the origins of the word “phishing,” it is easy to understand what it is and how it works. In the mid-1990s, hackers were using e-mails to lure people into giving them personal account and financial information, or fishing for data. Previously, hackers in the 70s had figured out how to get into telephone systems and cleverly referred to that as “phone phreaking.” The “ph” used to replace “f” has stuck in hacker communities and “phishing” was created.
Unfortunately, the numbers of people online searching for accounts to phish are increasing. Attacks have grown 37% since last year and typically end up costing over $4000 per attack.
Like all phishing attacks, the scammers are after financial data, typically. They can claim to be your bank, your credit card company, or a financial or sales platform like PayPal or eBay. The lure is a fake link that looks like it is from your bank or a service you use.
The message is usually urgent and creates a sense of anxiety when you read it – something along the lines of “Your Account is Overdrawn! Click Here to Contact Us Immediately!” When you click it, even the website it sends you to looks like the company. But lurking beneath is a powerful scraper that takes your information as soon as you type it in. In addition, to get a data grab, these phishing attacks sometimes leave dangerous viruses on your computer systems that attack later.
There are some tips to help you avoid phishing attacks, but knowing they are out there is the most important. Here is some information technology advice from Mustard IT which can help you avoid any loss of your information. Mustard IT is a premier IT support services provider in London that helps companies protect their data and assets.
First rule. Never click on a link if you are not 100% certain where it is coming from. If you receive an email from your bank, simply call to confirm before you click anything. Many banks and financial platforms, and the IRS, have rules in place to not request personal information via email so that can be your first clue that something is amiss.
Look for the lock icon in the address bar before revealing any personal information on a website. If you happen to get an electronic mail with a link that has a shortened URL, you can use a URL “un”shortener to find the original address to make sure it is legitimate.
If your bank is aware of a phishing attempt in circulation, they will often post information about it on their website. Open a new browser window, type in their known address, and see if there are any messages. Once you realize there are no problems with your bank account, delete the phishing email. Some banks like their customers to report when they receive something nefarious so they can inform others.
Another phishing method is a pop-up telling you that your computer has been hacked and you need to click in order to fix it. Don’t panic and close the window. Reboot your computer and make sure your anti-virus software is turned on. Whenever you feel anxious, surprised, or disturbed by a message on your computer, take a moment to breathe and ask yourself, “Could this be a phishing attack?” That one question could save you from immense trouble and losing your information.