The modern technology that believes in creating a smart digital environment with loads of security often gets slowed by cybercrimes and scammers. The rate of cybercrimes hasn’t stepped down and is continuously evolving due to the rapid growth of internet users.
The fraudulent activities are done to steal user data, funds, and other confidential information. One of the known cybercrime that the majority of users have gone through is ‘Phishing’. The term sounds like ‘fishing’ and certifies the definition of getting something under the trap.
Phishing is a social engineering attack, where the attacker tricks the user by creating a spoofed message to get sensitive data and information. The intent behind a phishing attack could be revenge, money, fame, or anything that pleases the attacker.
Well, phishing attacks have many types, but today in this guide, we have shared some legit ways to protect yourself from phishing email attacks and the methods to identify a phishing trap. So let’s explore what actually a phishing email and how to identify it to avoid the scam.
What Is a Phishing Email?
A phishing email is a practice done through an email address with the intent of stealing sensitive data. The hacker sends a malicious email to your primary email id, impersonating your company/organization/friend, and convenience you to visit your company’s website (spoofed URL) to fill in your information which is directly passed to the attacker.
Such type of phishing is either done with an individual or performed with a mass email i.e, referred to as ‘bulk phishing’. And when the users believe such received emails as a genuine piece of information, they unknowingly fall into the trap and delivers their confidential data.
Ways To Recognize a Phishing Email
1. Fake Domain
The very first sign that you should consider right after receiving a suspicious email is looking at the sender’s email address. Genuine companies always have their own email address ending with their brand domain, and if you’ve received something unusual, then probably it’s a fake domain to get you in a trap.
Moreover, search that sender’s email address into search engines like Google, so that if you get the results from a legit source then you may believe that the received email is real. Along with that, try to check that email domain on WHOIS.COM to finally know, whether the domain is registered by a real organization or you have received the email from such domain, which just got registered a day ago.
2. Grammatical Errors
Emails that carry unnecessary use of positive words with grammatical errors ain’t received from a real source/company. An authentic organization has an editorial staff that writes professionally and when you notice silly spell errors, leave that email and move on. However, you should not also believe any random email even if they have used fluent English, as only a language doesn’t guarantee how truthful, a company is.
3. Generic Salutations
An email starting with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ could be a phishing trap, as the organization contacting his/her customer/employee, should know the user’s name. Have you got an email from a legit source that starts with generic salutations? obviously, negative! General greetings are often used when the scammer has a goal of bulk phishing, so never trust such emails that look unethical from top to bottom.
4. Urge To Open
If the received email urges you to open the attached URL, be aware that it might be a phishing email. Most probably, the scammer would tell you about an issue with your account that needs to be resolved, and to do that, you need to open the following link to reactivate or solve that error, something like that.
And within that, they might alert you to do an immediate action, and this would lead you directly in the phishing zone. So think thrice, before opening any attached URL in the received email.
5. Unknown short URLs
Firstly, no genuine company would ever use a shortened URL while offering a deal or information. You should see the long URL that clearly shows the company’s domain with secured SSL protection.
Such short URLs are often designed with an IP tracking option, so as soon you click the link, your IP address would be submitted in their database. Well in some cases, you might see Bit.ly links or smarturl links, but that doesn’t define honesty. So before hitting that short URL, try to unshort it by various tools available in search engines, so that you could know the real source of the URL.
6. Free Rewards
Promising rewards/gifts without any proper reason shows that the following email doesn’t wanna give, but to steal. You should check the official website of the brand so that you can know whether the reward is active for all of the users or only you are their special customer. Such a phishing email would convince you to enter your card details to get that reward, and you all know that what would be the result, so think maturely and then action.
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How To Protect Yourself from Phishing Attack?
1. Use Anti-Virus
Anti Virus software is programmed to identify such threats, so the possibilities are much higher than you might be notified on receiving any kind of phishing attack. Windows users are often the victim of phishing emails, so turning on the firewall should be a good move. Along with that, keep a schedule of the regular scan so that you can secure your sensitive data, much carefully.
2. Regular Updates
We all know that Web browsers are being used to open any URL, so using a fully updated legit web browser should be your first choice. Outdated browsers won’t consider a phishing website as a threat, for example, the old version of chrome browser hasn’t any connection security warning when a non-SSL website was used to open, but now you get that green secure connection. So you must also consider the secure socket layer (HTTPS) on the URL, you’re opening.
3. Use VPNs
Use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) will secure your IP address from being tracked by attackers. Phishing emails often occur as Pop-up ads, and using a VPN can result as a shield to avoid such pop-ups. Proper email encryption is one of the reasons behind using VPNs, but for that, you must use a premium VPN service, not something free you get in the play store.
4. Use Chrome Extensions
Chrome extensions can be a smart choice as a protective weapon against phishing emails. There are now hundreds of chrome extensions available in the chrome web store that specialized in detecting email-based phishing attacks.
These types of extensions analyze the content published in the webpage that algorithmically signifies about possible phishing trap. Eg – Netcraft
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It’s 2021, and phishing attacks are still knocking on the doors. Scammers are coming up with different phishing concepts and techniques to steal user data and information. And without proper identification of phishing emails could lead to a major data leak. So spread the awareness about how to recognize a phishing email and how you can protect from such attacks. Peace!