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  • Writer's pictureRegina Nyirongo

Phishing: If You Suspect Deceit, Hit Delete!



Phishing is a type of cyberattack where a bad actor impersonates a reliable entity to deceive people into giving over sensitive information or carrying out acts that could be dangerous. In a phishing attack, the attacker lures the target into taking the bait by sending them an email, text message, or phone call. Cybercriminals frequently utilize this technique to steal financial and personal information, and it can have an impact on both individuals and companies.


Although there are many different types of phishing assaults, they often fall into one of three categories: email phishing, spear phishing, or smishing.


Email Phishing


The most prevalent kind of phishing assault is via email. The attacker sends an email that looks to be from a trustworthy source, like a bank, an online merchant, or a government agency, in an email phishing attack. The victim will often be requested to click on a link or download an attachment from the email. The target will be taken to a phony website or a file with malware if they click the link or download the attachment.


Spear Phishing


The phishing attack known as spear phishing is more precise. To make the email or message look more authentic, the attacker in a spear phishing assault undertakes research about the victim. For instance, to make the email appear more legitimate, the attacker can utilize the victim's name or job title. Targeting particular people with this kind of attack is common, especially when they have access to sensitive information, such executives or staff.


Smishing


A form of phishing scam known as smishing employs SMS text messages rather than emails. The attacker sends a text message that looks to be from a trustworthy source, like a bank or credit card company, in a smishing attack. Usually, the message will instruct the victim to click on a link in it. If the victim clicks the link, they will be taken to a malicious file or a phony website.


Attacks that involve phishing might have negative effects. The attacker may utilize the victim's personal or financial information if they fall for a phishing scam and give it to them in order to steal their identity or engage in fraud. In some circumstances, the attacker might even manage to enter the victim's computer or network, giving them the opportunity to steal additional data or do more harm.



How to Identify Phishing Attacks



1. Check the Sender's Email Address

Using an email address that closely resembles the actual entity is one of the most popular phishing attack methods. For instance, they might add a letter or number or change an "l" to an "i." Please carefully verify the email address to be sure it is accurate.


2. Look for Grammatical or Spelling Errors

Grammatical or spelling errors are a significant clue that an email is phishing because they are common in these messages. Reputable businesses often use a formal tone of voice and edit their communications before sending them.


3. Check the Links and URLs

Phishing attacks sometimes use links that take the victim to phony websites or pages that appear to be real but are actually there to steal the victim's information. Any link should be mouse-hovered over to reveal the complete URL before being clicked. To be sure it corresponds to the correct website, carefully check the URL.


4. Beware of Urgent Requests

Urgency or panic are two common tactics used by phishing attackers to get their victims to act hastily and not reason. If you get a communication that needs an immediate response, proceed with caution and double-check the request's validity before acting.


5. Don't Give Out Personal Information

Legitimate organizations never ask for personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or social security numbers via email. If you receive a message that requests such information, be cautious and verify the legitimacy of the request before responding.



Ways to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks



1. Use Antivirus Software

Antivirus software and more advanced systems such as XDR (Mweemba make this additional statement a hyperlink to the article you wrote about XDR or add in parentheses the phrase “read more about XDR at this link” – making “this link” a hyperlink…) can detect and remove malware that is often used in phishing attacks. Ensure your antivirus software is up to date and regularly scans your computer for malware.


2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to provide a code or token in addition to your password. This can prevent attackers from accessing your accounts even if they have your password.


3. Use a Password Manager

Password managers can generate strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts and store them securely. This prevents attackers from using one compromised password to access multiple accounts.


4. Keep Your Software Up to Date

Keep your operating system, web browser, and other software up to date to ensure you have the latest security patches and bug fixes.


In conclusion, phishing scams can be costly and dangerous if you fall for them. You can recognize and defend against phishing attacks by using the advice provided in this article, and you can keep your sensitive information secure. Never forget to exercise caution and to consistently confirm the veracity of every request for personal information.


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