Computers make work easier, but they come with a lot of challenges. Online scammers pose a significant threat to people who use online services. I bet you’ve heard of people losing money in online activities, courtesy of scammers.
How often do you register your details online -Credit cards or online banking systems? Some are not legitimate. If you want to know how to prevent phishing and spoofing, read this detailed article.
What is phishing?
Phishing is the act of creating malicious web pages to scam online users. To get a user into such pages, scammers send emails to users. The emails have a link upon clicking it directs you to another web-page. Similarly, they may set an attachment which has malicious spyware.
Phishers aim to obtain vital and sensitive information from clients, then using it for criminal activities. Phishers steal login credentials of users of a particular website.
Every online account asks for a user name and a password. Once you confirm, this information is sent to the hacker, who then use it as he wishes.
Essentially, phishing is creating a fake web page that superficially resembles a real site of interest. A typical example is a fake Facebook page (Facebook phishing). The only difference is the domain name, which differs from the original one.
If you own an online account such as Amazon, you’ll trust all emails they sent you, right? Not all emails are from Amazon. You must be vigilant, lest you may lose your money. The only way to do so is to learn how to prevent phishing and spoofing.
What is spoofing?
Spoofing means duplicating phone number, domain name, IP address or email address of a website, and then using it fraudulently or maliciously.
Usually, this information is sent from unknown sources but disguised as sources known to the receiver. Most email users trust mails from the websites they register with. So a spoofer is always confident that the receiver of such emails will act upon them.
For instance, a spoofed email may be sent to a client of a particular company requiring personal information. The email may request the receiver to verify details such as account numbers or as an imitation to an event.
This is very risky because the sender of such emails may use this data as identity theft. He/she may use it to access someone else’s bank account. In such cases, you will be implicated.
The worst part with spoofed emails is that they contain additional threats, including viruses. Viruses can cause damage to your computer. Besides, they might remotely access your data; delete files as well as triggering unexpected activities in your devices.
On the flip side, spoofed emails are traceable. You can trace them directly from the individual who is spoofing because the spoofing client stores data of every client he/she has spoofed.
That said you need to know how to identify a phishing or a spoofed email to master how to prevent phishing and spoofing.
Tips on how to identify phishing and to spoof emails
Currently, the rate of phishing has tremendously increased. Between 2010 and 2014, the rate of phishing attack increased by 162 percent! This is detrimental for organizations. In fact, phishing attacks cost organizations billions of dollars per year.
Statistically, the majority of internet users receive at least one phishing email per day. What the companies need to do is to block such emails before they reach the customers. Much as companies try to prevent such emails using domain-based message authentication reporting and conformance (DMARC) standards, some phishing emails always make it to the clients’ inbox. Therefore, companies need to work harder to prevent threats to customers.
Using email threat intelligence data revealing attack beyond DMARC, especially in cases where spoofs attacks brand their domains names outsides a company’s control is a better way of controlling them.
The possible ways to identify spoofs include:
Checking for spelling mistakes
Legitimate emails from companies rarely have spelling mistakes. Companies are serious about the emails they sent. Thus they put much emphasis on crafting emails with proper grammar and spellings. Any email contrary to these values must be questioned.
Analyze the salutation
Legitimate emails come with a personal greeting. Any email with vague salutations such as “Valued Customers” is without a doubt suspicious. Companies use the first or the last name to address their customers.
Check for threatening language or a ton of urgency
Phishing emails always have a tone of instilling fear or putting information in a manner to indicate urgency. In worse cases, it comes with both scenarios. For instance, you can receive an email with the headline “your account has been suspended.” This will elicit fear, right? In other cases, they will capture your attention with terms like “unauthorized access to your account.”
Always determine the authenticity of such emails before acting on them. If you respond, they ask for your details. Do not give them any information.
Avoid clicking on attachments
A Common phishing tactic is sending attachments. These attachments come with threats – malware and viruses. They can damage your files, spy on your activities, or even steal your passwords. Do not open any email attachment that comes from suspicious emails.
How to Prevent Phishing and Spoofing
The first step of being safe is to know the tactics that phishers use. Below is a list of measures that you can put in place to stay safe.
Avoid following email links in an email
Not all emails with links are genuine. Instead of following such links, type the link manually in a browser. For instance, you can receive an email from Amazon with particular instructions. If you suspect it is not legit, do not click the URL, but rather visit the real website by typing https://www.amazon.com in your browser. Use this official page to log in.
Lock down your browser with pop-up and phishing blockers
Internet browsers come with extensions called plug-ins/add-ons. This application is used to block any pop-ups or ads that scammers mostly use. Similarly, there are phishing toolbars that can alert you when you visit a site that isn’t secure.
Remember, most extensions are free but useful. However, if you need those that are more efficient, you need to buy them from trusted dealers.
Employ multi-factor authentication techniques
This tool applies a layer of protection beyond a mere password. Password can be hacked however complicated they may appear. With multi-factor authentication, you add additional steps before logging in onto your account.
As part of the process, a site sends you a code through a text message that you must enter to access your account. This verification process makes it difficult for scammers to access your account.
However, you must also use a secure password, and always try to change the password after some time.
Never send personal information through email
Scammer use emails to capture the attention of clients. If they sent an email to request personal information, do not give them, however convincing or threatening the email message is.
These individuals are cunning. They may attract your attention by headlines like “your account is invalid.” In such cases confirm, by login into your account through the official website page. This is one of the best ways of knowing how to prevent phishing and spoofing.
Configure your spam filter for maximum effectiveness
An email comes with security settings. Manipulate these setting to ensure that any suspicious emails do not land in your inbox. Tight security settings ensure that all unnecessary emails end up in the spam folder.
At times, essential emails may also be sent to the spam folder. Always make an effort of periodically checking this folder.
Enable firewalls on your computer and network
Every computer comes with firewall settings. The firewall is responsible for blocking malicious incoming connections. You can use some Wi-Fi routers to protect the network system because they come with a built-in firewall setting.
Ensure that you configure the settings of your computer or network to allow connections from networks or devices that you are familiar with. Such a system will enable you to block any other connections safely.
In cases where a router doesn’t have firewall capabilities, protect your network with a strong password.
The bottom line is, do not use an open network to transmit any sensitive information.
Use a strong ant-virus
Presumably, every computer should have anti-virus. Some anti-virus is free. You can freely download them and install on your computer. Ensure you install the updates when released. To make the experience better configure your settings to download the updates automatically.
Watch out for URL redirects
Some emails will redirect you to another website. If by any chance you are sent to another website having a similar identity, leave it as soon as possible.
Keeping the operating system up-to-date
Computer operating systems come with essential security features. These functionalities cushion against any phishing attempts. For safety purposes, update your computer’s or mobile phone’s operating system periodically–at least weekly.
Similar to anti-virus, ensure that you’ve set it to update itself automatically. If you choose the manual way, turn on the notification feature.
Hackers are very clever. They take advantage of unsuspecting customers. This article gives clear information about how to avoid scammer. Notice that phishers look for places where they can have their way. Such places include banks, online markets such as eBay and industries, among others.
It can be challenging to prevent phishing, however, using proper practices such as anti-viruses, strong passwords, keeping your browser up-to-date, and not divulging any essential personal details to strangers is the best practices on how to prevent phishing and spoofing.