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How To Spot And Avoid Phishing Scams

A phishing scam or phishing email are often used by cyber criminals as a way of enticing you to provide personal information for them to steal and utilise. They are often created to mimic that of real emails from larger companies (such as Amazon or Paypal) or impersonate somebody that you may know or trust so that you are more likely to act.

The content is usually something along the lines of needing to verify payment information or having to reset a password and can seem very realistic. They may also utilise an attachment or link as a form of distraction with their main goal being for you to click through so that they can gain access to your accounts.

The Consequences of Phishing Scams

The initial consequence of you falling victim to a phishing scam is that the personal details that you entered or risked will be compromised. This means that the cyber criminal who has been targeting you will have the relevant details that are needed for them to either access further accounts that you may have or gain more of your personal information.

For example, if your logins to an online website have been compromised, the criminal may be able to gain your data such as an address/phone number etc and may even have access to payment information.

Further consequences of these scams are that it can cause a data breach to your business. If the criminal gains access to various applications, they can have access to a whole variety of customer data which they can further sell on and gain insight into. This will not only have a detrimental effect on your reputation as a company as customers may no longer trust you, but it will also cause significant financial loss. This damage can be somewhat permanent and can close business with almost immediate effect.

How To Avoid Falling Victim

To prevent yourself from falling victim to phishing scams, you must educate both yourself and your workforce on what to look out for in regards to phishing emails. Although you may be savvy to these indicators, it could take an employee to slip up for your company data to be compromised due to shared networks etc.

So how can you spot a phishing scam?

  • Public Addresses – Always check the actual sender of the email, if your sender has a public email (like Gmail, Hotmail etc.) but is posing as a company or another individual, you can guarantee it is suspicious
  • Urgent Messaging – A common way that criminals get you to input information that they are after is that they like to create a sense of urgency by making you feel like something is under threat or that they need something now. Examples of this are encouraging you to change your password due to suspicious activity, making you act fast without considering the validity of the email.
  • Spelling & Grammar – There will often be several spelling or grammar mistakes throughout the email, whether this is a simple mistake in the footer in an address, or throughout the actual email.
  • Attachments & Links – Criminals will often use links or attachments as a way to entice you to enter details that they require. If the criminal is mimicking a company that you don’t usually receive these types of emails from, be wary.

To help you avoid phishing further, you can look into available social engineering services. These are simulated phishing emails that help you identify your high-risk individuals and educate your workforce on what to look for in the future. All it can take for your entire business to be at risk is for one single individual to click on one convincing email, is it worth the risk?

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