Don’t Fall for Phishing Schemes: Be Alert for Scams

by J.B. Maverick

3 min read

Phishing schemes are common, and these tricky scams threaten the safety and security of individuals and businesses that fall victim to them. Without the right information and the right security measures to protect against phishing schemes, your company could be at risk. Learn what phishing schemes are and how to avoid taking the bait so you can prevent your company from becoming caught in a net of data loss and security breaches.

How Phishing Schemes Work

Phishing is a form of cyber trespassing that lets cyber criminals steal money or sensitive data from the victim. Phishing schemes are usually sent via email, but they can also appear in the form of fake websites or phone calls. Most of these scams trick the victim into installing spyware on a computer, which then gives the cyber criminals back-door access to information stored on or accessed by that computer.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam

The most common type of phishing scam is deceptive phishing. In this type of scheme, cyber criminals send an email message impersonating a legitimate company or individual. These emails typically include a link and text encouraging the recipient to click on the link for more information. Clicking leads you to a fake website that collects your personal information and gives the fraudsters access to your bank account or company login information. Many phishing emails use threatening language or a tone of urgency to encourage a quick emotional response. Panic or worry can lead you to click on a link just to make sure everything is fine. Some phishing emails are personalized. They might include your name, the name of your company or your phone number. This type of phishing email tries to lure you into believing the sender has a connection to you to make the urgent message more credible.

Avoiding the Scam

Take the time to look at emails closely for anything that might seem suspicious before hurrying to click on a link embedded in the text. Many phishing emails have grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or odd word choices. They also often have generic or informal greetings. Another trick to avoiding a scam is to check every link before you click. Resting your cursor over a link in your email shows you the actual web address the link redirects to, so you can verify that the web address in the text is correct. If it doesn’t exactly match what is written in the body of the email, the link is likely a scam. A suspect link might use .com instead of .ca, for example, or it might add an extra letter to the company name.

Protecting Your Company

Update your firewall and a maintain a good cyber security system on your office computers. If you or one of your employees falls for a phishing scam, strong security can help prevent the criminals from accessing your internal information. All employees should receive security awareness training on a regular basis to keep everyone up to date on how to avoid phishing emails or other security breaches. Employees should also be aware that many scammers get personal information from social media, so they should not share sensitive company information in posts. Make it a company policy for employees and managers to not enter their personal information or log into a site if the page they bring up doesn’t start with HTTPS, the indicator that a page is encrypted and secure.

The Evolution of Phishing

As the general public becomes more aware of how phishing schemes work, cyber criminals develop and use new types of scams to trick victims. More legitimate-looking emails and psychological techniques designed to convince you to click add to the danger. This is why it’s important to keep your cyber security system up to date and to stay vigilant any time you are asked to give out personal information or log into a potentially suspect website. By following the simple steps above you can protect yourself and your company from phishing schemes.

References & Resources

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