5 Ways to Protect Data From Phishing Attacks
The global spending on IT security is expected to exceed $1 trillion in 2020. That massive expenditure is the result of companies looking to better secure their IT resources.
As the world becomes more digital, today's organizations create enormous volumes of data. This data needs protection from the ever-increasing cyber security threats.
But what is a cyber-threat? What threats to data security should you be on the lookout for? More importantly, how can you prevent cyber threats in your home or business?
What Are Cyber Security Threats?
Cyber security threats refer to acts or possible acts whose intention is to steal data or to cause some sort of digital harm to data. Cyber security threats take many forms, including phishing, malware, man-in-the-middle attacks, denial-of-service attacks, SQL injection, zero-day tunneling, and so on.
In this article, we focus on one form of cyber attack that hackers use the most: phishing.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a form of a social engineering attack where attackers attempt to steal user data. This data includes login credentials, credit card and bank account numbers, and so on.
The attacker typically masquerades as a trusted entity to dupe unsuspecting victims into opening an email, text message, or instant message. The criminal then tricks the victim into clicking a harmful link. The malicious link can trigger the installation of malware, reveal sensitive information, or freeze the system.
Depending on the scope of the attack, a phishing incident can be difficult to recover from.
Why Is Phishing So Common?
Earlier, we pointed out that phishing is the top cyber security risk around the world. In 2018, approximately 83% of people globally experienced phishing attacks.
But why do cyber criminals love phishing? Here are four reasons:
- Phishing is easy. Anyone can quickly and successfully execute a phishing attack.
- This form of attack is flexible. A phishing email or message can deliver ransomware, steal valuable data, obtain user credentials, and initiate wire transfers.
- Phishing is valuable. A successful phishing scheme can help criminals steal large sums of money and valuable data.
- People aren’t good at stopping them. Phishing preys on the “click first” mentality that most people have. It also takes advantage of the countless emails that you skim through every day.
Types of Phishing Scams
Phishing takes many forms. Here are five of them:
This form of phishing is among the most common cyber security issues people face today. It involves the perpetrator registering under a fake domain and sending numerous emails to unsuspecting customers. Customers confuse these emails with those sent by sources they trust and fall victim to the criminals.
Spear phishing is a highly sophisticated and successful form of phishing that costs businesses at least $7.2 million a year. Usually, the cyber criminals perpetrating this attack already have:
- Your full name
- Your job title and employment location
- Your email address
- Other specific details
This is a type of attack that targets senior-level employees. The attack uses fake URLs to imitate senior executives. Attackers may use fake tax return forms to obtain valuable information, including names, addresses, bank account details, and social security numbers.
Smishing and Vishing
This form of phishing replaces email communication with telephone calls and text messages.
Angler phishing is one of the fairly modern cyber security attacks where criminals use fake social media accounts to dupe people into giving out personal information.
How Can You Prevent Phishing Attacks?
As more phishing scams emerge, the more you will need to know so you can protect against these cyber-attacks.
Below, we discuss five effective techniques to keep phishing attacks at bay.
1. Don’t Click on Suspicious Links
If everyone were careful about the links they clicked on, phishing would drastically reduce. Unless you're on a site, you trust completely, be wary of clicking on links that appear at random. If an email seems suspicious for any reason, think twice before giving out your information.
2. Use an Anti-Phishing Toolbar
Top internet browsers allow you to customize them with an anti-phishing toolbar. Such a toolbar typically runs a quick check on any site you visit and compares it to all known phishing sites. The toolbar alerts you every time you stumble upon an untrusted site.
3. Verify the Security of the Site
Most people are wary about providing sensitive information when online. Where the site is secure, however, you should be okay.
But how do you know whether you're browsing a secure site? Well, check whether the URL starts with 'https' and has a closed lock icon close to the address bar. Examine the site's security certificate too.
Never open a website after getting a message that the site could be insecure. Furthermore, avoid downloading files from any sites that seem malicious.
4. Go Through Your Online Accounts Often
When is the last time you checked all of your online accounts? A hacker somewhere could be having a great time with one of them. Take the time to check in with your online accounts, so it's easy to identify any potential attacks as early as possible. It’s also a good idea to regularly change your passwords to help limit the chance of one of your accounts getting hacked.
5. Use Reliable Antivirus Software
Installing an antivirus software can go a long way in protecting you from malware. Look for anti-spyware that can stop phishing attacks on their tracks.
Just be sure to keep updating the software to incorporate new features that are constantly added to block any attacks.
You Can Stay Secure From Phishing
Cyber security threats may be getting more potent every year, but just remember, there’s always something you can do to protect your digital assets.
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