The Dangers of Phishing

Most people are familiar with the dangers of online scammers. They probably heard stories about people having their identities or credit card information stolen through suspect activity online. A word that people may not have heard is phishing. Phishing, not fishing, is a term used to refer to fraudulent inquiries online where an emailer misrepresents a legitimate entity or company in order to trick someone into giving up sensitive information.

These inquiries usually take the form of a spam email that is sometimes disguised as an email from a real entity such as PayPal or a bank. It will try to obtain personal information like a birthday and even information like a social security number and bank account numbers.

How to Spot a “Phishy” Email

Once one knows what phishing is, the natural next question is how to know the difference between legitimate emails and those that are fraudulent. Here are a few ways to spot an illegitimate email that where someone is phishing for your personal information like credit card or bank account numbers.

  • It’s too good to be true. One of the most obvious signs of a scam email is that it’s just too good to be true. People don’t send out free money, so if someone is offering those that are offering free cash or other ridiculous deals should be considered suspect.
  • They are in a hurry. Those sending these emails are not in legitimate business, so they don’t have time to wait for someone to actually buy their product. They want to obtain sensitive information as soon as possible, and will be in a hurry to obtain it.
  • They impersonate legitimate companies. One may receive an email claiming to be from PayPal. The best way to find out is to look at the actual email address. Instead of [email protected], the email address would be something like [email protected] or something else that looks like it’s PayPal but is not based out of their official servers.

How to Educate Your Employees about Phishing

Employers, especially small-business owners, need to educate their employees about the dangers of phishing and how to spot these emails before sensitive information can be compromised.

Phishing is not a very complicated subject, but many employees are not aware of the ways that scammers have adapted in order to trick people. Since email is the most common place for it to occur, it’s important than any employee who has a company email address and handles sensitive or financial information is informed about phishing.

Business owners need to have a meeting with their employees on the dangers of phishing, how to spot it, and what to do when it does occur. New employees that handle sensitive information should be made aware of the threat of phishing emails when they start work.

The Other Kinds of Cybercrime

Phishing is not the only activity that cyber criminals engage in to try and obtain sensitive information. As technology advances, so do their techniques. Other forms of cybercrime include vishing, smishing, and more.

  • Vishing is voice phishing, and occurs when a phisher calls with the intention of obtaining bank account or other sensitive information.
  • Smishing refers to phishing through text messaging. A phisher may send a link via text message to trick someone into revealing personal information on the website.
  • Spear phishing is a more focused form of phishing where the scammer puts a lot of work into targeting a specific person or company. Traditional phishing sends spam emails to as many accounts as they can. This type focuses on one kind.
  • A trojan is a fairly common form of malware that occurs on someone’s local machine. The hacker is then able to collect information locally.

Stay Vigilant

The truth is that these phishy emails can get sent to anyone. Personal and company email addresses all get targeted by scammers who are looking to make a quick buck by stealing from someone once they have gotten their personal information. Credit card companies are better than ever at dealing with fraud, but that is not a process anyone enjoys going through.

Stay educated about phishing and the dangers that it poses toward the individual and companies alike.

If you have any questions about phishing, or you suspect you may be the victim of a phishing attack, contact A2 Services for assistance by clicking here.

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