How To Identify And Avoid Phishing Scams

September 29th · 6 min read

How to identify and avoid phishing scams

We’ve all been there. we are checking our email, we notice an email from someone we don’t know so we are naturally curious, we open it and get a story from someone saying we won something, or it’s our bank saying we need to update our personal information and they provide a link where we can do so.

These are forms of phishing scams and they are very common, so how can we protect ourselves against them?

In this article, you are going to learn what a phishing scam is, how to recognize one, some examples of phishing scams used today, and how to protect yourself against phishing attacks.

Let’s get started.

What is a phishing scam?

Phishing scams are a way of trying to get someone’s personal information using deceptive emails, text messages, and/or websites. The goal of phishing scams is to trick people into believing that the message is something they want or need.

Examples of phishing scams include a request from their bank, a note from someone in their company, asking people to reset their passwords, click a link to visit a website, or download something.

Here’s an example of a phishing email we received: Examples of a phishing email - 04

How to recognize phishing

Phishing emails and text messages often tell you a story to get you to click a link, submit personal information, or open an attachment. Phishing emails often look like they are from a bank, a credit card company, a social media platform, an online payment website, or an online store.

These emails or text messages may…

  • Include a fake invoice
  • Say there’s a problem with your account or payment information
  • Say you are eligible for a government refund
  • Say you’ve won a lottery or some sort of prize
  • Say you need to confirm some personal information
  • Say they’ve noticed suspicious activity on your account and you should update your password
  • Want you to click a link to make a payment
  • Ask you to reply with your personal information
  • Have poor grammar and spelling
  • Start the message saying, “Hi Dear”, “Attention beneficiary”, or something similar that doesn’t actually mention your name

Sometimes phishing emails may look legitimate but upon closer inspection, you’ll realize that they are fake.

Examples of a phishing email

The first phishing example shows you a message that tries to get you to download a file. Once you open the file, your computer will get infected with malware.

Examples of a phishing email - 01

The second phishing example pretends to be from a bank and its purpose is to trick people into submitting their home addresses, and phone numbers. Examples of a phishing email - 02

The third phishing example shows a phishing email that tries to start a conversation with potential victims. Those who reply will get a story and then a request for personal information or some sort of payment.

Examples of a phishing email - 03

How to protect yourself from phishing attacks

Your email is pretty smart and will keep away most phishing emails from ever reaching your inbox, however, just like with any other system, it’s not perfect. And scammers are always trying to outsmart spam filters, so it’s always a good idea to add more layers of protection, here are some of them.

1. Install browser security software

Browser security software will help you protect yourself against potentially harmful websites that try to steal your personal information or insert malware into your system. The software we recommend is Guardio.

Guardio is an anti-malware Chrome extension that blocks harmful sites and phishing attacks directed at your computer. It also prevents future infections by detecting and removing existing malware from your system, blocking harmful extensions, and push notification providers that try to insert malware on your device.

Guardio blocks malicious websites

Additionally, Guardio will help you:

  • Scan every site, page, and service you visit to block any suspicious content it finds.
  • Automatically detect and remove malicious extensions (search hijackers or redirect viruses) that leak personal information, hijack your browser, install adware, or change your browser settings.
  • Blocks intrusive notifications and annoying pop-ups that infect your browser.
  • Get notifications whenever your data is compromised so that you can act quickly and fix the issue.

Here’s an example of the dashboard you’ll have access to once you install Guardio.

Guardio blocks phishing blocks on websites

2. Use different passwords

Using different secure passwords for the websites you use is the best way to protect yourself against phishing attacks that aim to access more than one of your accounts with one password. However, remembering many different passwords is difficult at best, if not impossible.

According to research from NordPass, the average user has around 100 passwords so how can we make sure have a different secure password for every website and remember all of them?

Lucky for us, there are tools like LastPass and 1Password that allow us to securely save all of our passwords in one place. These digital vaults (password managers) allow us to securely save them in one place so we can access them whenever we need them.

If you use a password manager, you’ll be able to use and remember passwords like this one: %dJo*AQt0CEM1u2gEj8d

Use secure passwords

3. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is as the name implies when we use more than one password to get into our online account or app. Two-factor authentication apps you can use include Twilio Authy, Google Authenticator, LastPass Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, and Duo Mobile.

4. Back up your data

Back up your data and make sure those backups aren’t connected to your home network. You can copy your computer files to an external hard drive or cloud storage like iCloud, Google Drive, or DropBox. This is so that in the odd chance you can’t access your files anymore, everything is securely backed up and you can get your files back.

Summary

We’ve all been there, we are checking our email, we notice an email from someone we don’t know so we are naturally curious, we open it and get a story from someone saying we won something, or it’s our bank saying we need to update our personal information and they provide a link where we can do so.

These are forms of phishing scams and they are very common.

Phishing scams are a way of trying to get someone’s personal information using deceptive emails, text messages, and/or websites. The goal of phishing scams is to trick people into believing that the message is something they want or need.

Phishing emails and text messages often tell you a story to get you to click a link, submit personal information, or open an attachment. Phishing emails often look like they are from a bank, a credit card company, a social media platform, an online payment website, or an online store.

To protect against phishing attacks, install browser security software, use different passwords on the websites you use, use two-factor authentication to add another layer of protection, and back up your data to an external hard drive or the cloud to get your data back in case your computer gets compromised.

We hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions about search redirects or how Guardio can help you stay safe online, we’re more than happy to talk and assist. You can contact us at yourfriends@guard.io.

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