In recent years, online scam artists have stepped up their game in order to contend with the many developments being made in the world of cybersecurity. Their efforts have entailed finding new methods to trick people and new delivery systems for their assorted scams. However, despite the changing times, a sizable portion of cybercriminals have remained steadfastly committed to phishing. One of the oldest types of internet flimflammery, phishing can take on a variety of forms, but the endgame is always the same: conning people out of sensitive information. Fortunately for safety-conscious internet users, phishing schemes are easier to avoid than many people think. Putting the following pointers into practice will help ensure your online security and keep phishers at bay.
1. Be Suspicious of Any Message Requesting Money
Phishers love posing as friends, family members, and work acquaintances when trying to con people out of money. These schemes often entail targets receiving emails, texts or social media messages that purport to be from loved ones in desperate need of emergency funds. Being mugged while on vacation and needing money to cover hotel bills and a return trip is a particularly common scenario presented in these messages. Should you receive such a message, calling the party in question is generally the wisest course of action, as this will immediately provide you with the confirmation you seek. Alternatively, you can ask the sender a question that only the actual party would know the answer to.
2. Avoid Clicking Links Whenever Possible
As a rule of thumb, it’s generally a good idea to avoid clicking links found in emails, texts, and social media messages. In some cases, these links will take you to sites that are crawling with malware, and in others, you’ll be taken to fake websites that are designed to look like they belong to legitimate banks, credit card companies, and online retailers. Legitimate website owners looking to stamp out malicious software can learn more about cloud-based security solutions from a SiteLock review. For example, if a message purports to be from Amazon and contains a link, simply visit Amazon by way of your web browser. While this may be slightly more cumbersome than clicking a link, it’s considerably safer. Additionally, when weighing whether to click a link found in a message from a trusted confidante, abstain from clicking unless you are 100 percent the message is from the party in question.
3. Pay Attention to How Messages Are Composed
The fact that scam artists tend to be subpar writers is a saving grace for those who value online security. Even though phishers often pose as members of your inner circle, they seldom make genuine attempts at replicating their respective writing styles and methods of punctuation. This is why it’s important to never take a message that purports to be from someone you know at face value. If something seems off about a person’s messages, try to get in touch with them by phone and abstain from clicking any links they send you.
4. Regard Your Personal Information as Sacrosanct
Obtaining a target’s personal information is the endgame for most phishers – and indeed, most online scammers in general. With this is mind, you should treat your personal information as sacrosanct and be extremely selective about who you share it with. This means not sharing passwords, credit numbers or bank account info with people you don’t know or websites you have reservations about. Many people hold the mistaken belief that any message that doesn’t wind up in a spam folder is from a legitimate source, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although spam filters are very effective at weeding out a sizable percentage of malicious messages, they are not end-all solutions for phishing. Suspicious messages manage to find their way through the cracks of even the most discriminating spam filters, so remember to stay on your guard when reviewing your inbox.
There’s no denying that online scammers are in it for the long haul. As long as the internet continues to grow, so too shall their efforts. While stamping out the phisher threat may be impossible, there are many steps people can take to avoid falling prey to phishing schemes. When working to keep yourself safe online, heeding the previously discussed tips can provide you with tremendous peace of mind.