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Phishing Attacks: I’m Going to Make This Real Simple

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It’s in your email queue, it comes into your home with the mail, you may pick it up while shopping thinking it’s a brochure.  Times are tough for everybody.  This includes the crooks so they have to get ever-increasingly imaginative when coming up with methods to deceive and steal from you.

So what can you do?  You get better at recognizing phishing attacks.  Well, let’s ask ourselves what exactly is a phishing attack anyway? According to the Security Skeptic Online, the definition is:

phishing expedition is a two-pronged attack. First, the phisher creates a spoof email message: posing as a legitimate e-merchant operator, the phisher tries to lure a victim into visiting a web page.”

So first we should become adept at recognizing what a phishing exploit is.  Basically then, it is a link in an email.  That link will take you to a website and that website is meant to look exactly like a website you are already familiar with and trust.  Remember, the primary reason for the phishing expedition is to trick you into giving up some of your very private information.  Information that in turn, will allow them to steal your identity, your credit or worse.

You can fight back.  I have always said that your ability to fight back is directly proportionate to the level of desire you possess to protect yourself.  If you are convinced it will never happen to you or you just don’t really feel like going through all the trouble……well, there isn’t much I can say then is there?  But for the rest of this, here is what you should look out for:

  1. The sender’s email address and
  2. spelling and/or grammer in the email. I lump these two together because I check every email for these automatically.  I may not peruse the email and then read it but I guarantee you if I find any word misspelled I immediately check the URL.  Most of the time I find words that are spelled phonetically when I do find issues.  (A dead giveaway would be if the grammer sounds like a bad Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd skit.).  According to Karrar Haider’s July 6th article on maketecheasier.com, you also have to watch out for :. Scammy and Forcing Language,
  3. Scammy and Forcing Language,
  4. Shady attachments, Phishing ads, and
  5. Whether or not the email in question is in your spam folder.

Ok, scammy and forced language I will give you.  If they are promising the moon…..well if it’s too good to be true…..

Shady attachments.  You really should be past this one.  If you have read any of my blogs or listened to any podcasts on The Help Desk Podcast then there is no way in heck you would open any attachment from anybody you don’t know, open any link in an email period.  But folks…..if it is in your spam folder…..well, why do you have a spam filter if you are just going to open up the email anyway??

He does make a good point about phishing ads though.  These ads have been know to show up on Facebook and other websites that should frankly know better.

It all boils down to this: share no information with anyone online that you cannot verify.  You get an ad in the mail that wants you to call a number to do something (anything) to your account…don’t call it.  Go to the company’s website and YOU initiate the contact at a number you have verified.  If you receive a communication from some party via an email (unless you know this party) don’t click on the link provided.

It does take some time out of your busy day to be safe online.  It may indeed seem like it happens to everyone but you but believe me, you are not special (sorry) it can really happen to you.  It probably already has but you are so complacent you don’t even realize it yet.

Be safe and I will see you soon.

Gary

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