Phishing attacks are one way in which malware sites attempt to damage or steal sensitive data in a computer system through text messages, emails, website links or other electronic communication forms. Although they look like an official communication site, individual or a legitimate company, they steal information like passwords, username, bank details and other important credentials. The stolen information serves their purpose behind hacking or stealing funds directly from the user’s bank accounts mostly.
The information can also be further sold to cybercriminals for a malicious act on a larger scale. Likewise, social engineers take advantage of users’ potential lapses such as a weak password or insecure servers. Therefore, experts recommend that you safeguard personal information and sensitive data efficiently and avoid contacting unknown sites, even if they seem legitimate. Read below to know how you can avoid phishing scams and block phishing websites in future.
What is a phishing attack?
Phishing can be defined as an attack that is usually made by cybercriminals in which the hacker or the attacker attacks another person’s server or the entire digital system. The primary goal of the attacker is to steal sensitive data which may comprise credit card details, user’s personal information or other identifiable information. A phishing attack is usually carried by different ways such as:
Phishing emails: this is one of the most common ways your systems get attacked. The emails ask the user to take an action by clicking on the links attached. Such action usually takes users to a spoofed login page which can detect passwords. Once the link is clicked upon successfully with login details, the attackers can potentially install malware and viruses in the user’s computer system.
Business email compromise: this is a new kind of phishing attack in which the attacker targets a business community or consumers to use specific information provided by them. They target users with familiar internet or topic and ask them about certain information like banks they are dealing with or birth date.
Phishing Websites: when browsing, we come across many pages that look legitimate but can scarp your data within to item. The Google Transparency report states that more than 46,000 new phishing websites were detected every week in 2020 alone.
How to avoid phishing scams?
Never click on unknown links
You must never click on malicious links sent through an email or by instant message even though you know the sender’s name. The only thing you can do is check if the link destination is the correct one or not. Many phishing sites are overly sophisticated and have a destination URL which makes them look like genuine websites. Such sites can steal login or credit card information or even record your keystrokes to use them further. If you still want to visit that site, go directly through the search engine instead of clicking on the link sent directly to you.
Keep rotating your password
If you have multiple online accounts, you must make a habit to rotate passwords at regular intervals to prevent an attacker from getting unlimited access to your account. Your account must have been hacked without even getting noticed. The extra layer of protection through password rotation can potentially prevent phishing attacks to a great extent.
Learn about new phishing techniques
With new technology and innovative phishing scams, it will be best if you could keep yourself updated regarding novel phishing techniques to avoid them smartly. When you don’t know about them, you won’t be able to differentiate between a legitimate site and a malicious one. Find them as early as possible and lower your data risk potentially. Many IT administrators keep updating themselves by learning security awareness mechanisms to keep their enterprises secure from new forms of phishing attacks.
Use an anti-phishing toolbar
There are anti-phishing toolbars that can be added to browsers to keep checking servers and websites you visit against potential phishing sites. When you come across phishing or a malware site, the toolbar will alert you and help you in implementing preventive measures. Many anti-phishing toolbars are free to install and hence can be used by all.
Look if the site is secure
It is apparent that we may share financial information on commercial sites to stimulate buying and selling process. However, to avoid being into trouble, double-check if the sites you are dealing with are secure or not. Before submitting passwords or bank details, check if their URL starts with ‘HTTPS’ and there is a closed icon in the address bar. Also, check for a site security certificate as well. If you feel that the site is not secure, do not open any new links. Even search engines may take you to a malicious site that offers low-cost goods. If you purchase on these sites, it is feasible that your card details get compromised and accessed by cybercriminals.
Never open pop-ups
Pop-ups not just irritate us but are often associated with malware sites and act as a tool to tempt users. Many browsers will block these pops while others restrict you from downloading or installing the sites linked with the pop-up. If some of the pop-ups still manage to evade the ad-blocker, do not get tempted to check them even. More commonly, these kinds of pop-ups will prompt you to close between ‘x’ and ‘y’ and make you click out of temptation.
Never provide sensitive information unless to have to
This is one important thumb rule and you must never provide sensitive information to the online sites unless to feel to have to and trust the site completely. Make sure to check the site security before providing any information, even though the information may seem less significant to you.
Consult data security platforms in case you face a phishing attack
If by any chance you still fall into prey in some phishing scam, it is important you detect the root cause as soon as possible. Keeping information about data security platforms can be of great help here as the IT security teams may automatically alert analogous users’ behaviour or any unwanted changes made to the files. The data security platform can help you identify the attackers and change your affected account to prevent further damage if the attackers have your information.
Update your browser regularly
Security lapses take place in popular browsers all the time. They are released due to security loopholes that the hackers inevitably explore and use to exploit. If you have a habit to ignore update messages, stop it immediately and update your browser. Download it once you receive the new updated version to avoid phishing scams and to block phishing websites.
Use firewall and antivirus software
Using a high-quality firewall act as a buffer between your system and phishers. You can install a network firewall and desktop firewall which are hardware and software respectively. When they are been used together, phishing websites are blocked to a great extent and your system is protected effectively. Likewise, installing good antivirus software can keep your system free from viruses and unidentified malware sites. However, you will have to keep updating this software to deal with a new form of phishing attacks that emerge every day. Firewalls block malicious files from entering your system, while antivirus software scans your system to prevent files from being damaged.