What is Phishing

Phishing is the general term for the fraudulent practice of sending online communications, often pretending to be reputable companies, to elicit personal details such as passwords or bank information from a target.

Phishing can come in a multitude of forms ranging from email, SMS, websites, and voice messaging.

Why would someone phish?

Phishing is often used to secure personal details for theft, but some phishing schemes have a more complex agenda.

Phishing can be used to install malware on a device or to recruit the device to be a part of a botnet for further illegal activity.

How to spot phishing

Phishing schemes have become incredibly advanced however, there are still a few key indicators to help you discern the less than genuine.

Here are five ways to identify a phishing scheme:

Unknown or unusual sender

Unexpected emails from outside of your organisation or contact from within your business that seems out of character should raise some flags as a potential phishing scheme – especially if said communication contains hyperlinks. Always check the sender email for subtle misspellings of known names, as the sender could be trying to hide behind a familiar business or person to gain your trust.

Urgency

Communication that mentions any time-sensitive activity should be considered suspicious. If you receive communications that threaten things like account closure or police involvement if you don’t provide details, or an urgent transfer of funds, more often than not these will be phishing. Reliable organisations will not threaten account closure without proper notice and would never ask for personal details over an unprotected line of communication.

You’ve won!

Luxury prizes are often used as bait in phishing schemes. Any communication, be it an email or a pop-up, that promises things that are too good to be true often are just that - don’t click!

Attachments

Email attachments should always be opened with caution, even a Microsoft office document can hide malicious files. Dangerous files can masquerade as innocent attachments, luring you into a false sense of security whilst they infiltrate your device and network. Be extra wary of attachments from unknown sources, and only open attachments that you are certain you know the contents of.

Hyperlinks

One of the most common methods used by phishers, hyperlinks can take you to web pages with automatic downloads that will contaminate your device with malware – or an untrustworthy payment page aiming to take your bank details. You can check a hyperlinks validity before opening it by hovering your mouse over the link to make sure that the link address is as it should be – and keep an eye out for misspellings of trusted names

Protecting yourself against phishing

Vigilance is key, and educating yourself thoroughly on phishing tactics can prevent you from becoming a victim of phishing – so if you’re reading this, good job! You’ve already taken the first step towards protecting yourself.

Spam filters can also be used to protect your device from phishing schemes, but did you know that 1 in every 3,000 emails that are cleared by a spam filter contains malware? Think about how many emails you receive in a day, how long will it be before one reaches you?

At RedSpam we are specialists in spam prevention. Contact one of our specialists today and discover how we can educate your team, and protect your network.