Secure IT: Identifying and Avoiding Phishing Scams

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Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target is contacted by email, text message, or phone by someone posing as a representative of a legitimate business or entity with the intention of attaining sensitive data, such as banking and credit card information, passwords, and more. People lose millions of dollars every year as a result of these scams. It is important to recognize the traits of phishing scams and know how to protect yourself against them.

Identification: Is this a Phishing Scam?

The first step in the fight against this cybercrime is to identify the characteristics of phishing. Phishing messages appear to be from a company you know and trust, but there are some signs to help you identify scams. Here are a few red flags to look for:

  • The message indicates there is some type of problem with your account or your payment information
  • You are being asked to update personal information or click on a link to make a payment
  • The email’s subject line is irrelevant or does not match the message content
  • An attachment you were not expecting is included with the message
  • When hovering over a link in the message, the link-to address is for a different website
  • The email seems out of the ordinary or has odd grammar or spelling errors

Protection: Fighting the Phishing Scam

Phishing scams are abundant and have been around nearly as long as the internet has. These deceptive practices are a nuisance, but fortunately, there are ways to avoid becoming a victim of phishing.

  • Keep personal information to yourself. As a rule, you should never share personal, financial, or other sensitive information over the internet.
  • Be sure to know what you are clicking on. Hovering over a link that seems suspicious before clicking on it is a good way to confirm the link will take you where it is supposed to lead.
  • Keep tabs on your online accounts and change your passwords regularly.
  • Verify the site is secure. Ensure the URL begins with “https:” prior to entering any of your information on a website. If the site is secure, a closed lock icon should also appear near the address bar.
  • Implement updates. Security updates are released in response to vulnerabilities that hackers and other criminals have identified and exploited. If an update is available, you should install it as soon as possible.

Some phishing scams are sophisticated and look real. The most effective tactics to fight phishing are education and awareness. If you understand what phishing is, and how to identify it, you are better prepared to protect yourself and your data. The experts at AJTC stay ahead of all the latest technology trends and have the specialized skills to protect your company’s data.  Contact AJTC today to learn more about IT security and other services. You may also visit AJTC here or call 708.942.8200.

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