What is phishing and how can you prevent becoming a victim?

What is phishing and how can you prevent becoming a victim?

Phishing cyberattacks can target anyone and potentially compromise your secret personal or business information. Thankfully, there are ways you can protect yourself from this type of cybercrime.

What is a phishing attack?

One of the most common forms of cybercrime, a phishing attack is a message claiming to be from a trusted source that asks you to perform an action — often to click a provided link or download an attachment. The link could be a place to fill out information, which would then be sent to the cybercriminal. It could also install malware on your device or ask you to wire money among many other actions.

How can you protect yourself from phishing attacks?

Mass-produced phishing emails that the criminal sends out to many email addresses are the easiest to detect. They may contain:

  • Spelling and/or grammatical errors.
  • A generic greeting that doesn't identify you by name ("Dear customer").
  • An urgent threat ("Your account will be closed if you don't update…")
  • A strange or spoofed email address (for example, instead of "@amazon.com", the address is "@abc.ama.zon.com") or a public domain such as "@gmail.com."
  • Suspicious attachments.

Not all phishing emails contain these common signs, however. Some may be much more difficult to spot, and these can be especially dangerous.

Your best defence against phishing attacks is to develop a sensitive nose for them. If the message you get seems suspicious in any way and you're not sure if it's legitimate, double-check with the source on another communication channel. Don't reply to the email, click on any of its links or download any attachments.

Many paid cybersecurity suites contain phishing detection features that work on a variety of devices, including cell phones, desktop PCs and tablets. These subscription-based suites offer far more features than free antivirus programs and can protect you from phishing and other types of attacks.

Recognise the signs of a phishing attack to best protect yourself

Phishing attacks can come in a variety of forms, and they're all out to steal information you would rather keep secret from strangers. To protect yourself, take the time to educate yourself on the many types of phishing attacks and learn how to spot one.

For more great tips that can help you in everyday life, stay updated on our blog at WMC Accounting.

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