Phishing has always been one of the most frequent cyber-attacks due to its easy deployment and high efficiency. Phishing is commonly spread through email, and its goal is to trick users into clicking the embedded link and leaving their personal information to the hackers. But, of course, users aren’t aware of the fraud because the email they received looks pretty genuine.
When employing phishing, hackers represent themselves as reputable, well-known companies so that the user won’t doubt their trustworthiness. But that’s not all. Cybercriminals will do whatever it takes to steal your personal data, including telling you that you inherited millions of dollars from a cousin you didn’t know you had. So, if the message seems too good, it’s not.
Phishing attacks have significantly progressed, making them more challenging to spot. However, some tricks we’re about to show you will help you recognize a phishing email and avoid incidents like data loss, financial fraud, or identity theft – yes, these are some of the phishing byproducts.
What is a Phishing Email?
A phishing email is designed to look like one sent by a reputable company whose services you’re using – PayPal, Netflix, BestBuy, etc. Such emails often look entirely legitimate, and the sender is usually asking for the recipient’s personal information, including financial data and Social Security number.
Once you leave your personal information to a hacker, they create a fake account using your credentials, sell your data on the Dark Web, or commit identity theft.
Although you might think that recognizing a phishing email isn’t possible, we are here to prove you wrong. Remember that phishing attacks look authentic unless you take a closer look and see an ugly truth.
5 Foolproof Signs of a Phishing Email
Once you learn the 5 most commonly used phishing schemes, you’ll never be tricked into revealing your personal information to an unreliable source. For example:
1. Companies Never Require Your Personal Data via Email
A reputable company or institution will never ask for your confidential information via email. If they want you to provide your account data or financial information, they will ask you to visit their premises and do all the changes on-site.
So, if you get an email from a “bank” asking you to update your information, think twice before you do it.
2. A Reputable Company Calls You By Your Name
An email starting with “Dear Customer” or “Dear account holder” doesn’t seem very professional. A notable company will always call you by your name, especially if they’re emailing you about something associated with your account.
However, some hackers have found their way around this. Namely, some of them have started to avoid this kind of introduction but decided to get to the point immediately. Again, it doesn’t seem like anything a reputable company would do, no matter what they’re offering you.
3. Fake Domain
Even if an email meets all the requirements of a legit message, double-check the sender’s email address. If you notice additional letters, numbers, or a suspicious domain name (paypal.com vs. paypal123.com), make sure you delete an email before you proceed with the login process or whatever the attacker requires you to do.
Again, hackers don’t give up easily. While their email addresses may be free of any random number or letter combination, they may use a third-party email provider or a misspelled domain that might easily fool you – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Can you spot the problem?
4. Misspelled Words and Grammatical Errors
One thing is clear – reputable companies know how to spell words and use grammar correctly. On the other hand, phishing emails are often full of grammatical errors and misspelled words that cannot go unnoticed.
What’s the catch here?
Hackers do this thing on purpose. They aren’t stupid, and they most certainly know how to write. However, they use simplified and wrong syntax to attract less observant users, who are generally much easier targets than companies or educated individuals who pay attention to every detail.
5. Email is Too Good To Be True
Suppose you have just received an inheritance worth millions of dollars or won a free coupon for the trip to the Maldives. Congratulations! You have just been served with a phishing email. In general, any email that’s too good to be true should be marked as spam, especially if it requires a piece of your personal information so that you can receive an award.
Words of wisdom – always remember that perks like gifts or unexpected rewards from unknown senders aren’t something you get out of nowhere.
How to Prevent Phishing Emails?
Now that you know how to recognize phishing emails, it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from such a scam.
One of the best ways to take your cybersecurity to the next level is to install highly efficient antivirus software with special add-ons to monitor your email box and look for any signs of suspicious activities that might put your private or professional life at risk. Antivirus of your choice should always be active, even if you’re not sending or receiving emails at the moment. Although self-defense tips are the best protection against phishing, an additional layer of protection cannot harm – so don’t forget to download and install proven antivirus for your home or business purposes. Aside from phishing, it mitigates the risk of other most common cyber threats resulting in data loss or identity theft.
Here are some simple tips to reduce the risk of falling into the phishing trap:
- Don’t trust alarming emails
- Never open unsolicited email attachments
- Don’t click embedded links in suspicious emails
- Keep your OS and antivirus up to date
- Check if the website is real before clicking on the link
No tools or systems will help you deal with phishing emails – your security is in your own hands. While antivirus software provides an extra layer of overall protection according to the latest cybersecurity trends, phishing emails can evade it pretty efficiently. But they can’t avoid your own instincts.
We hope our guide to recognizing and fighting phishing emails has helped you understand the essence of this cyber threat and taught you how to beat it like a pro. If you know any extra strategy we forgot to mention, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments.