Cybersecurity experts explain what phishing attacks are attempting to accomplish.

It’s easy to believe you’d never fall for a phishing scam, but more individuals than you think fall victim to these cybercrimes each year. For example, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that Americans lost a staggering $57 million to phishing schemes in 2019.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), hundreds of phishing schemes are launched every day, increasing the likelihood that you may become a victim. The easiest method to protect oneself from these online attacks is to first understand what they are and what phishing schemes are attempting to accomplish. Of course, you must have solid processes in place to safeguard yourself.

But why do you need to safeguard yourself against phishing scams? And what precisely are phishing schemes capable of? Experts in cyber security break it down.

What exactly are phishing scams?
“Phishing is the practice of sending communications that impersonate a reputable party and claim to come from that party in order to trick recipients into taking action that they would not have taken if they knew the true identity of the message’s sender,” explains Joseph Steinberg, cybersecurity expert and emerging technologies advisor, to Yahoo Life. As a result, a phishing scam may trick you into believing that a message is coming from a person or entity you trust, such as your bank or your favorite video streaming service, when it is actually the work of cybercriminals.

According to the FTC, phishing schemes frequently create a tale in order to deceive you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. These emails and SMS may say or contain stuff like:

They’ve spotted some unusual activity or failed log-in attempts on your account.

They claim there is an issue with your account or payment details.

They claim you must verify certain personal details.

They include a forgery of an invoice.

They invite you to make a payment by clicking on a link.

They claim you are qualified to apply for a government rebate.

They provide a free meal coupon.

“Phishing schemes are a matter of numbers,” Chuck Brooks, owner of Brooks Consulting International and an IT and cybersecurity specialist.

“It just takes a few people out of thousands to click in order for fraudsters’ efforts to be effective.”

What are phishing schemes attempting to accomplish?
Phishing schemes attempt to get your personal information, such as your social security number or bank account details. According to Steinberg, phishing scams typically attempt to obtain credentials “that can be used to log in to some account, revealing private information that can be used for identity theft, providing credit card numbers or bank account information, issuing a payment, or clicking a link that installs malware.”

Unfortunately, phishing schemes are becoming increasingly common. “Phishing has become a weapon of choice for many hackers looking to benefit themselves,” adds Brooks.

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How to Defend Yourself Against Phishing Scams

To defend yourself from phishing schemes, the FTC suggests the following steps:

1. Install security software on your devices: The FTC recommends that the software be configured to automatically update so that it can cope with any new security risks. Among those are Avast, Malwarebytes, etc…

2. Configure your phone’s and computer’s software to automatically update. These upgrades can assist in protecting you from security risks.

3. Make use of two-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection by requiring you to provide two or more credentials, such as your password and an answer to a security question that is unique to you, to log into your account. According to the FTC, multi-factor authentication makes it more difficult for fraudsters to access your accounts if they have your login and password.

4. Make a backup of your data. According to the FTC, make sure your backups aren’t connected to your home network. Instead, you should copy your computer data to an external hard drive or online storage.

Phishing scams are frequent, but you don’t have to fall victim to one. Taking the proper precautions can help safeguard you both now and in the future.

If you’re worried about Phishing, or you have the suspicion you suffered from Phishing, contact us! We offer you a Free Network Assessment and we can determine the current health of your system


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