Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams
The Covid Chronicles | Volume 2
A guide to keeping yourself safe online during Covid-19 lockdown.
What are Phishing/Online Scams?
Phishing refers to the practice of using deceptive emails and websites to illegally information from users. That information – usernames, password, credit cards – is later used to steal either money or more information.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Phishing?
Because phishing can truly cost you a lot – from stolen money to data, here’s a shortlist of the things you need to keep in mind in order to stay safe online.
1. Pay Attention to The Sender and The URL In Your Emails
One of the most common phishing scams is to spoof a big brand by sending an email with their name (and usually branding), and say there is something wrong with your account and ask you to log in “to fix it”. Usually, the look of the email is very similar to the original brand, however, there is a sure way to distinguish whether you’re looking at the real deal. You need to check the email address: scammers cannot create email addresses with the actual domain name of the company, so instead of email@example.com it will usually look like firstname.lastname@example.org. Look carefully at the email address and not just the name appearing in your email client!
You should not follow these links. Instead if you want to check your account, go to the website directly and log into your account in the usual manner. If there is a problem is something you need to update, you will usually see an alert on your account.
2. Avoid Downloading Email Attachments You Don’t Expect
Sometimes these emails look like legitimate business emails, and they don’t pretend to be a big company, but send an attachment containing some sort of malware.
If you don’t know who the sender is, definitely don’t open any attachments. If you know the sender, be sure to check the file type before opening. The most common format for malicious attachments is zip, however, even Microsoft Office files can contain viruses, which can contain macros that need to be enabled. Overall, keep an eye for all kinds of attachments.
3. Ignore Money Requests
Another type of online scam is someone asking for money under some form. Usually, it’s a person in trouble, asking for financial help; you’re asked to send a small amount of money with the promise you’ll get way more in return.
Sometimes these scams can take the form of extortion. A popular one was an email circulating in the past couple of years, stating that users have been recorded through their own webcams watching adult content and asking for money. This scary scam made the news as people were terrified – and understandably so!
Either way, if you are getting a money request under any form by strangers, it’s usually a scam; never give out money or financial information no matter how the situation is presented.
Remember, all the scammers need is just an email address in order to do some serious damage! Мindful internet usage is key to protecting your privacy on the web.
Stay safe and vigilant while working from home, and always guard your online data.