Phishing – Types and How to Prevent Avoid It

Phishing is one of the ways that hackers use most to steal personal details online. Many people think that they know a lot about phishing and that they cannot fall victim to phishing scams. This belief is not true at all. The truth is that anyone can become a victim to a well-elaborated and orchestrated phishing scam.

Credit: Widjaya Ivan / Flickr

Here are important details about what phishing is all about, the different types of phishing and what you can do to protect yourself against it. You can use them also to prevent all other forms of identity theft protect yourself from identity theft), since phishing is one of the most important ways in which identity thefts occur.

What is phishing?

Phishing is the process by which online scammers trick unsuspecting people to click on potentially dangerous links that they send to the victims and then end up stealing the personal information of the victims.

Online scammers want to get all your personal information which they can use to con you or other people. To get your password and other log-in details to your account on any website, they may attempt to send you a mail that represents what you usually get from your websites. For example, you may get an email message that is similar to what Amazon may send you. However, the mail is not from Amazon but from the scammers.

The scammers then embed in the mail a specific link and ask you to click on the link to resolve some “issues” with your account. Once you click on the link, you are led to a dangerous website designed specifically to steal your details.

Types of Phishing

There are several types of phishing attacks in use today. Here is a brief explanation of some of the most common ones.

  1. Whaling
    Whaling is a type of phishing which scammers specifically use on high-ranking executives of organisations. The attractiveness of this type of phishing attack is that the scammers stand to gain in-depth access to an organisation if they manage to trick the targeted executive. As strange as it may sound, whaling type of phishing attacks do succeed at times.
  2. Spear phishing
    Spear phishing attacks are very specific in nature. The attackers identify one individual and then give the individual attention in the form of gathering a lot of information about the individual. The attackers then try to win the trust of the individual by repeatedly sending emails with requests about specific aspects of the life of the person.

How to prevent phishing attacks

  1. Be on the lookout for spam messages. This is the simplest thing that you need to do to protect yourself against phishing attacks. All phishing attacks are initiated with spam messages. Do not even bother to open spam messages. Spam messages that come from fellows you cannot even recognise are the most dangerous ones. If you avoid reading and responding to them, you will avoid being conned by online scammers.
  2. Make sure that the antivirus program of your computer is fully updated. The antivirus program that you use on your computer protects you against very many forms of malware. Similarly, your software has an inbuilt capability to detect spam messages and take precautionary measures to protect you against them. Make sure that you are using the latest version of your antivirus program. The good thing about all antivirus programs is that they get automatically updated every time you are online, and the developers release software updates.
  3. Be wary of pop-up screens. Do not ever copy the links you see in pop-screens to your browser. Most of those links lead to spoofed sites. Do not click on the links that appear on pop-up screens. In most cases, links that appear in suspicious-looking pop-up screens usually lead to websites designed to steal your information.
  4. Do not click on links from unrecognised senders. In addition to this, avoid downloading files from senders who you cannot recognise. Most of the downloads that you receive from unknown senders have been designed to mess up with your system and expose you to scammers.
  5. Only conduct online transactions on secure websites. Adopting this practice will help you to protect your online security. You will identify a secure website from its address. All secure websites have their addresses starting with the following, “HTTPS.” Mark the “S” because it will help you to identify websites which are secure.

Use these methods to stay anonymous online and avoid becoming a victim of any specific type of phishing attacks.

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