Phishing Emails

What are Phishing Emails and How to Spot Them.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails attempt to trick you into revealing sensitive personal information such as account numbers and passwords. When they arrive in your inbox, they look legitimate, but they’re not.

For example, the email might have your bank’s name as the sender and its logo within the body of the message. A link within the email will take you to a fake website that also looks legitimate. Like the message, it’s spoofed. However, because it looks real, you might be tricked into entering your username and password or confirming your Social Security number.

Phishing emails also play on your emotions, lending a sense of urgency to the situation. If you don’t confirm your bank or credit card account information due to fraudulent activity, for example, the bank will cancel it immediately.

So, not only do the email and corresponding website look legitimate, you’re in a panic to act quickly. You might not think as clearly as you normally would, and your defenses are down.

Recovering from a Phishing Scam

Did you fall for a phishing scam? Unlike malware, there’s nothing you need to remove from your computer other than eventually deleting the message so you don’t accidentally fall for it again. However, you will need to take a few measures to protect yourself. For example, if you were tricked into disclosing your login credentials for your online bank account, you’ll want to log in to your bank and change your username and password immediately — if the criminals haven’t already done so and locked you out.

While you’re at it, notify your bank that your account has been compromised. Depending on the nature of the information revealed, the bank may opt to cancel your credit card and give you a new one. Keep an eye on your accounts for fraudulent charges.

Visit ftc.gov/idtheft for guidance and to file a complaint.

Preventing Phishing Attacks

Don’t take the bait! Remember that most reputable organizations such as financial institutions, universities, and government agencies never request that you reply via email with sensitive information such as a passwords or Social Security number.

  • • If a link is provided, skip the link and enter the organization’s URL directly into your web browsers. It’s a bit more work, but it will ensure that you’re at a legitimate website and not a fake one.
  • • When in doubt, pick up the phone and call the organization directly, again using information you’ve obtained directly and not a number provided in the email message.
  • • Though messages won’t be as pretty, read them in plain text rather than HTML. This will make URLs associated with links and images visible.
  • • When you identify a likely phishing email, don’t respond to it. Doing so only confirms that your email address is valid. Instead, forward the message to both spam@uce.gov and the organization that is being impersonated. Finally, delete the message and then empty your email’s deleted items folder.
  • • Use anti-spam software to catch phishing emails before they land in your inbox.

Understanding Phishing

Identity thieves are in the numbers game business. They send out these messages in bulk, hoping for a response. Some even use botnets, which are networks of compromised computers, to send their messages in massive quantities.

If you receive a phishing email, and don’t take the bait, there’s not much to worry about. You’re not being singled out. Rather, your email address is but one of millions. Hackers and their bots do this all day long, every day, and are simply looking for a response.

Both ransomware and phishing emails use social engineering to trick users. Quikteks offers computer security solutions such as anti-spam, anti-malware, and web content filtering tools. Be smarter than the bad guys by scheduling a computer security consultation with Quikteks today.

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