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10 Basic Steps to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Published on Dec 22 2021

phishing attacks

The technique of exploiting human errors to get access to personal information or account credentials is known as social engineering. To gain access to a target's account, social engineers manipulate individuals rather than attack their systems. The methods cybercriminals use to conduct social engineering attacks range from posing as tech support professional to sending you a friend request via social media. 

One of the most popular types of social engineering is phishing, over which Identity theft and financial losses can result from accessing important accounts with the information. 


What is phishing? 

Phishing is a cybercrime in which someone pretends to be a legitimate institution and contacts a target or target group through email, phone, or text message to convince them to provide sensitive information, including personal and business data, credit card details, and passwords. 

How to Recognize Phishing Attacks? 

Phishing emails and text messages may appear to be from a company you already know or trust. Sometimes cyber attackers use convincing stories to persuade you to open an attachment or click on a link. Cyber thieves can include a fake invoice asking you to click on a link to pay or confirm your personal and business information. There are many tricky ways to steal your personal and business data. 

10 best practices to avoid phishing attacks 

It is often difficult to spot the difference between genuine and phishing emails and messages as they are well-crafted. Learning how to prevent cyberattacks is particularly important as you can put your company at risk. You should know how to protect sensitive and confidential data, recognize and report phishing scams, whether you work from home or on-site. 

Cybercriminals are attempting to exploit the pandemic through sophisticated phishing scams, which trick people into disclosing personal and business data. So, follow these ten tips to keep yourself and your company safe online. 

1. Do not click on suspicious links  

If you receive an email from someone you do not know instructing you to click on a link, do not follow the instructions. These links will frequently redirect you to fake websites that will ask you for personal and business information or persuade you to click on links that could infect your computer with malware. 

Never click on suspicious links, download files from untrustworthy websites, or open email attachments from unknown senders. Under no circumstances should you open a file on your computer if you believe it contains malware. 

>Malware Protection: Tools & Best Practices

2. Use reliable antivirus software and antimalware

Make sure your computer has reliable antivirus and antimalware software installed. It will provide real-time threat protection, assist you in creating and managing unique passwords, and protect your business files and financial information from phishing attacks and other scams

3. Make sure the website is secure

Is the email sent from a trusted domain? It is a scam if the @domain.com section of the email does not exactly match the company website URL. 

Check to see if the website is secure, does the URL start with "HTTPS"? Is there a closed lock icon near the URL bar when you hover over the link? 

Also, look at the website's security certificate. When banking, shopping, or inputting personal information online, you should never utilize public, unprotected Wi-Fi. When in doubt, use the 3G/4G or LTE connection on your smartphone.

4. Change your passwords frequently

Change the passwords you use on a regular basis. To make these passwords more difficult to break, use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.

5. Use an anti-phishing toolbar or plugin

Anti-phishing toolbars, browser add-ons, or plugins provide a complete anti-phishing solution as well as information about the website you are visiting. The anti-phishing toolbar alerts you about fake websites and other forms of scams. It may check for email content, the body of an email's document, webpage fields like username and password, suspicious links, images, thus reporting and blocking phishing and fraudulent websites.

6. Be careful with pop-ups

Pop-up windows are commonly confused with legitimate website features. Most of the time, though, they are phishing frauds. Many browsers allow you to prevent pop-ups or permit them on a case-by-case basis. Avoid clicking the "cancel" option; these URLs commonly lead to phishing sites. Instead, click the little "x" in the window's upper corner.

7. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Another option to improve security is to use two-factor authentication. You log in using your regular username and password, but the system additionally requires a one-time unique code to confirm your identity. A text message, a phone app, or a piece of hardware can all be used to generate one time access code. While this approach might be time-consuming and intrusive at times, it is a reliable way to avoid security breaches.  

> What Is Multifactor Authentication (MFA)? Why We Need It And How Does It Work?

8. Do not open suspicious emails   

In the event of receiving an email purporting to be from a bank and with an alarming subject line like “Account suspended” or “Funds on hold,” it is a scam. Whenever you feel that there may be a problem, you should either log in to the company account or contact the bank directly. Once you are logged in, you will find information about issues with your company account. 

Furthermore, do not provide financial information through email. A bank or credit card company would never send you an email requesting bank account information, Social Security numbers, or passwords.

9. Install a mandatory update policy on all devices 

When you get a lot of update alerts, it is easy to be annoyed and tempted to ignore them. Avoid doing so. Patches and updates are released for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is to keep up with current cyber-attack strategies by patching security gaps. If you do not update your browser, you might be subject to phishing attacks based on flaws that might have been avoided simply. These upgrades may provide you with vital security protection. 

Having your operating system's security updates installed automatically, as well as the newest patches for apps will ensure that your software will not be subject to current security threats.

10. Protect your data by backing it up

Make a backup of your data and make sure it is not connected to your home or workplace network. Your computer data can be copied to an external hard drive or cloud storage.  


Reporting Phishing Attacks 

If you have been the victim of a phishing scam, report it to the appropriate authorities. The Federal Trade Commission's Complaint Assistant page allows you to report a phishing attempt or crime.  

You may also report the phishing email to [email protected] or submit it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. If you get a phishing SMS message, report it to SPAM immediately (7726). 

Most importantly, if in any doubt, report attempted phishing attacks to your company’s security team. 

Phishing attacks are one of the most prevalent security issues that both individuals and businesses face when it comes to keeping their data secure.  
If you do not have the necessary tools and do not recognize these types of frauds, you are putting your company's security at risk.  

As cybercriminals continue to refine their phishing attacks and other techniques, it is best to have advanced security software leading your defense. To keep you and your company safe, be sure to take precautions and use Humanize Security solutions. 


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