December 1, 2021

How to Avoid Phishing Scams

Businesses and individuals need to be wary of hackers trying to steal their information online. The tricksters have many tools to do this, but phishing scams are one of the most common. A phishing scam is an email, website, text, or other delivery system designed to lure you into divulging personal inform ation or passwords.

Once they have it, hackers can take over accounts, steal money or information and attack computer systems. You need to know how to avoid phishing scams to keep your information safe. We’ll show you what is phishing, how to detect phishing attacks, and how to defend yourself from them.

What are Phishing Scams?

The goal of a phishing scam is to trick you into providing information or clicking on a link by looking legitimate. They’ll try to make you nervous by saying your account is frozen, canceled, or you have an undelivered package.

The emails are designed to look like your bank, streaming service, or other organization. When you click on the link to update your payment, they steal your information. Phishing email examples include an email from PayPal saying your account is on hold until you update your payment.

Hackers are good at making email or texts look just like the real thing.

How to Avoid Phishing Scams: Computer Software

There is security software and anti-phishing apps you can place on your computer that looks for and scan emails for common phishing traits. Many of these can block sites or warn you before clicking on a link.

Phishing scams change and evolve all the time, so keep the programs updated. If not, then they might not recognize the most recent phishing techniques and leave you open to attack.

Antivirus software removes and prevents viruses on your computer. Some viruses allow hackers to steal your information or create phishing attacks on your computer.

Learn Common Phishing Techniques

Read articles to learn the new types of phishing scams and how they work. Programs do their best, but they can’t catch everything. It’s up to you to educate yourself about new threats. This is imperative for IT professionals tasked with keeping computer systems safe.

They should have regular training sessions with office employees to keep them apprised of the latest information.

Trust Your Intuition

If there’s something strange about an email you receive or they ask for payment or personal information, don’t click on anything. Instead, contact the company directly and ask them about the email.

Many times, the company will say they didn’t send it and they is nothing wrong with the account. If the email is legitimate, then the company verifies it, and you can take care of the problem. If you know you paid the account or if the email sends up other red flags, then don’t click on anything and verify it with the company.

Never Give Out Personal Information

Legitimate companies won’t ask for personal information in an email because it lacks security. If there is a problem, they may send an email, but they won’t ask for passwords, payment information, or social security numbers.

One of the best ways to identify a phishing email is by hovering your cursor over the links and looking at the email address of the email. If the email is legitimate, the URLs will contain the company site. If it doesn’t or if it is only a partial match, then the email is a phishing attempt.

Disable Pop-Ups

We all hate pop-ups, but many sites use them for email signs ups and advertisements. Phishing scams use them as well, especially if you’ve already downloaded a virus on your computer. The ads may look legitimate, but they’re not.

Rather than worry about it, most browsers allow you to block pop-ups from sites or choose to open them on a case-by-case basis. This saves you time and worry by eliminating the problem from the source.

If a pop-up does sneak through, don’t click on it. Instead, click on the X in the top right corner.

Firewalls Are Your Friend

Without a firewall, the outside Internet has direct access to your computer. A firewall stands between your computer and outside information to keep viruses and phishing attacks at bay. If you’re a business, then a firewall is a necessity, and the IT department should implement it.

Firewalls come in both software and hardware form. You can use both and double the protection against hackers.

Update Browsers

Hackers constantly create new threats, so web browsers such as Chrome require occasional security updates to fight these new threats and close up any security holes. Updating software may seem tedious, but it keeps hackers out of your computer.

If you don’t want to worry about keeping track of updates, then make the update automatic.

Make Sure the Site Is Secure

Hackers want your information, so they may make legitimate-looking websites, but that doesn’t mean they take the time to make them secure. Google made having an HTTPS versus a less secure HTTP URL a ranking factor and shows people an “unsecured” if it isn’t.

If the website has an HTTPS and Chrome shows a lock next to the URL, then the site is secure for transactions. Don’t put in any information if the site still contains HTTP or is shown as unsecured.

Check Your Accounts

We have accounts for almost everything from banking to streaming and it can be overwhelming. You may not visit the site often or even forget you signed up for it. It’s a good idea to visit your accounts regularly to make sure they’re working and haven’t been compromised.

If your password doesn’t work, then it may be compromised, and you should change it right away.

Don’t Get Phished

This article provided many tips on how to avoid phishing, but it’s up to you and your IT department to implement these conditions. Does your business have an IT department?

Many small businesses can’t afford a full IT department. If this is the case, consider managed IT services. It gives you all the benefits of a fully staffed IT department without the exorbitant cost of employees.

If you want more information, then check out our services.

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