What is phishing email?
Phishing is a social engineering attack that is commonly used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers. This happens when an attacker masquerading as a trusted entity tricks the victim to open an email, instant message, or text message. Then, trick the recipient into clicking a malicious link, which may lead to the installation of malware, freezing the system, or leaking sensitive information as part of a ransomware attack.
Attacks can have devastating consequences. For individuals, this includes unauthorized purchases, theft of money, or identity theft.
Additionally, phishing is often used as a foothold in corporate or government networks as part of larger attacks such as advanced persistent threat (APT) incidents. In the latter case, to bypass security, distribute malware in a closed environment, or gain privileged access to secure data, employees are compromised.
Organizations that succumb to such attacks will suffer severe financial losses in addition to reducing market share, reputation, and consumer trust. Depending on the scope, phishing attempts may escalate into a security incident, and it is difficult for companies to recover from the incident.
Ways to Prevent Phishing Attacks
The first way to prevent phishing attacks is to understand what a phishing scam looks like. New phishing attack methods are always in development, but they have something in common. If you know what you are looking for, you can identify these common points. There are many sites online that can keep you updated on the latest phishing attacks and their key identifiers. The sooner you discover the latest attack methods and share them with your users through regular security awareness training, the more likely it is to avoid potential attacks.
The second way is to not simply click the unknown link. It is generally not recommended to click a link in an email or instant message, even if you know the sender. The minimum work you should do is hover your mouse over the link to see if the target location is correct. Some phishing attacks are quite complex, and the target URL looks like a copy of the real site and can be used to record keystrokes or steal login/credit card information. If you can access the site directly through a search engine instead of clicking a link, you should do so.
The third way get anti-phishing plugins for free. Today, most browsers will enable you to download add-ons that can spot signs of malicious sites or alert you to known phishing sites. They are usually completely free, so there is no reason not to install this software on every device in the organization.
The fourth way is to not provide your information to unsafe websites. If the website URL does not start with “https://” or you cannot see the closed padlock icon next to the URL, please do not enter any sensitive information or download files from the site. A website without a security certificate may not be suitable for phishing scams, but it is better to be safe than regret.
The last way is to not provide important information unless you must. According to general experience, unless you trust the website you visit 100%, you should not be willing to provide your card information. If you must provide information, please make sure you confirm that the website is authentic, the company is authentic, and the website itself is safe.
Ways to recognize phishing email
- Legitimate companies will not request your sensitive information via email
If you receive an unsolicited email from an organization that provides a link or attachment and asks you to provide sensitive information, it is most likely a scam. Most companies will not send you emails asking for passwords, credit card information, credit scores, or tax numbers, nor will they send you a link to log in.
- Legitimate companies will usually call you in your name
Phishing emails usually use generic names, such as “dear member”, “dear account holder” or “dear customer”. If the company you are dealing with is necessary information about the account, the email will call you by name and may direct you to contact them by phone.
However, some hackers simply avoid the address altogether. This is especially common in advertising. The following phishing email is a good example. Everything inside is almost perfect. So, how do you discover it as potential malware?
- The legitimate company owns domain email
Do not just check the name of the person who sent you the email. Hover over the “From” address to check its email address. Make sure that no changes have been made (such as other numbers or letters). Please check the difference between these two email addresses as an example of changing the email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Remember, this is not a foolproof method. Sometimes companies use unique or different domains to send an email, while some smaller companies use third-party email providers.
- Legitimate companies know how to spell
The easiest way to identify fraudulent emails may be grammatical errors. Emails from legitimate organizations should be well written. A little-known fact-there is a purpose behind grammatical errors. Hackers are usually not stupid. They prey on uneducated people, believing that they observe less and are therefore easier targets.
- Legitimate companies will not force you to visit their website
Sometimes, phishing emails are completely encoded as hyperlinks. Therefore, accidentally or deliberately clicking anywhere in the email will open a fake web page or download spam to your computer.