Scams have been on the rise recently and it could happen to anyone. Phishing is usually how gullible internet users are scammed because calls for simply tricking a customer into revealing confidential information. But this kind of scheme is easier to spot than you think. Phishing entices users with an appealing message as bait and then comes the hook- usually in the form of a suspicious URL. Nowadays this can happen through a WhatsApp message or an email. If you receive a suspicious link on any platform- be it about your bank account or a cute cat picture- think twice before clicking on it.
What is phishing
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack often used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers. It occurs when an attacker, masquerading as a trusted entity, dupes a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message. The recipient is then tricked into clicking a malicious link, which can lead to the installation of malware, the freezing of the system as part of a ransomware attack, or the revealing of sensitive information. An attack can have devastating results. For individuals, this includes unauthorized purchases, the stealing of funds, or identify theft. Moreover, phishing is often used to gain a foothold in corporate or governmental networks as a part of a larger attack, such as an advanced persistent threat (APT) event. In this latter scenario, employees are compromised in order to bypass security perimeters, distribute malware inside a closed environment, or gain privileged access to secured data.
An organization succumbing to such an attack typically sustains severe financial losses in addition to declining market share, reputation, and consumer trust. Depending on the scope, a phishing attempt might escalate into a security incident from which a business will have a difficult time recovering. If you have a mobile phone you can get broadband without a landline although you still may be a target of scams.
Common phishing scams
If an unknown individual claim to know you in an email, you are probably not suffering from amnesia. More than likely, it is an attempt to get you to wire him/her money. A variation on this theme is that one of your known friends is in a foreign country and needs your help. Before you send your ‘friend’ money, give them a call to verify. Your true friend’s email contact list was probably hijacked.
Your bank may offer account notifications when certain amounts are withdrawn from your accounts. This ploy tricks you with a fake account notification stating that an amount has been withdrawn from your account that exceeds your notification limit. If you have any questions about this withdrawal (which you probably would), it gives you a convenient link that leads to a web form asking for your bank account number “for verification purposes.” Instead of clicking on the link, give your bank a call. They may want to take action on the malicious email.
How to avoid being a victim of scamming
Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it is over the phone, by mail, email, in person, or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Know who you are dealing with. If you have only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a business, take some time to do a bit more research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for others who may have had dealings with them. If a message or email comes from a friend and it seems unusual or out of character for them, contact your friend directly to check that it was really them that sent it.
Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows, or click on links or attachments in emails – delete them: If unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
Do not respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access – hang up – even if they mention a well-known company such as Telstra. Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus that will give them your passwords and personal details.
Keep your personal details secure. Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.