Working from home or working remotely has become the new norm. In light of the ongoing pandemic, organizations have been forced to adopt a ‘new normal’. To ensure business continuity amidst uncertainty, it has become imperative to allow remote working. Advanced technology and digitization have made this move easier. As a result, the dependence on working online has increased manifold.
People are spending a major part of their day online, either for work or recreation. This has enhanced the need for advanced security measures to control or minimize cyber-attacks. But, hackers always seem to be a step ahead. No matter how secure your organization’s online safety protocols are, cyber threats continue to go a level higher with every passing day. One of the biggest threats to organizations and people working remotely is phishing.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is one of the most useful tools for cybercriminals to hack into systems and steal sensitive user information. Hackers generally send meticulously crafted emails or shortened URLs to trick users to visit malicious websites. Once the user clicks on these links or downloads a file from a mail, passwords and other personal information stored in the system may be hacked within minutes. In many cases, people have also suffered financial losses due to phishing attacks.
You Need To Be Cautious Against Phishing Attacks
Cybercriminals are smarter than you think. They are constantly upgrading their systems and innovating methods to fool users around the world. And as people continue to work from home amidst the pandemic, criminals have started to utilize this opportunity. Therefore, you need to be even more cautious. It is not only important to install anti-virus kits in your system, it is also necessary to be vigilant.
There are some simple ways of identifying phishing attacks. Here are some common ways used by scammers to entice unsuspecting people.
- Emails promising extremely attractive rewards
- Call for charity
- Urgent calls to save stranded people or in need of immediate medical treatment
- Personal information requests
- Purchase invoice for fake transactions
- Shipping or delivery notifications for products not purchased by the user
- Emails with links to dubious sites
- Downloadable attachments inserted with emails from unknown senders
These are some of the most common tricks deployed by online scammers. Therefore, keep your guard up and never fail to pay attention. If an email does not look safe, never click on it. Do not fall prey to lucrative offers advertised by unknown websites and users. Online lotteries are also often used as a preferred mode for siphoning off money from your account. So, steer clear of these if it does not come from a reliable source.
How To Recognize The Phishing Emails?
It is better to be safe than sorry. Take a look at some of the tips and tricks that will help you to easily recognize phishing emails.
- Rely On Your Judgement
At times, being sensible is the only way out. If you believe in your judgement, it may prevent you from falling prey to a phishing scam. While browsing through emails or visiting sites, never click on unrecognized links or open attachments. At times, you may be asked to click a link given in the email and it will redirect you to a site. If you are not sure about its authenticity, type the URL on the address bar and check whether it is safe to visit.
Besides, being smart will help you to prevent phishing attacks. If an organization such as a bank, credit card provider or any other agency asks for your personal information over email, never share it. Banks will never ask for sensitive information through email.
- Suspicious Emails
In most cases, if you read a phishing email, you are likely to identify its mysterious nature. Read carefully. General salutations such as Sir/Madam, typing errors, wrong use of punctuations are some of the common errors detected in phishing emails.
- Shortened Links
Cybercriminals often use shortened links to trick unsuspecting people. Generally, these are shared on social media profiles, encouraging you to visit a shopping site or to avail of an attractive offer. To make users believe that they are indeed clicking on a legitimate link, they use shortened links with the use of trusted sites such as Bitly.
Hover your mouse over the link to check whether you are moving to the intended site or not. If it displays the name of the actual site, it is authentic. But, if a suspicious site seems to creep up, do not click on it.
- Opt for Secure Browsing
Sites with a safety lock and starting with https:// can be trusted as secure sites. Therefore, wherever possible, browse safely. It is especially important to pay heed to this feature when you are sharing sensitive information online or providing credit card details for a transaction. Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi domains and public computers for entering personal information on shopping sites. If you are doubtful, prefer your phone’s 4G connection to establish the connection.
- Do Not Fall Prey to Urgent Deadlines
Recently, scammers have used this ploy to cause inconvenience to a lot of people. If a mail from a company asks you to immediately pay fines, complete your insurance procedure or informs that your card will be stopped immediately, it can be a phishing mail. All these tasks will be asked to be completed urgently. These are scare tactics that often throw people off gear. So, be mindful and confirm with the service provider before falling prey to such schemes.
Protect Yourself From Phishing
When you are working from home, it is extremely important to prioritize your online security. You may feel that the spam filters in your email account will automatically filter suspicious mails. But, hackers have outsmarted the public and have devised ways to sneak into your inbox.
As a result, it is your responsibility to remain protected from phishing. To ensure maximum safety, keep your computer’s security software up-to-date. Install any updates or upgrades requested by your anti-virus provider. Do not click on every link sent via email. Be very cautious if you are asked to share financial information via links sent through emails. Always check with your bank before proceeding. Multi-factor authentication helps to protect your accounts. Similarly, avoid clicking on any pop-up boxes or notifications.
Even if your company provides the necessary security for your system, it is essential to recognize the imminent signs of danger. Do not jeopardize your personal safety and the organization’s safety with a callous attitude. Be mindful of your activities online and keep your personal information safe.
4 Easy Steps To protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks:
- Protect the computer that you are using by using an anti-virus and security software. Make sure that this software is updated automatically so that it deals with all the security threats.
- Protect you mobile device by setting software that updates automatically.
- Protect your important accounts by setting up multi-factor authentication. The multi-facto authentication process makes it difficult for the scammers to login to your account.
- Protect your data by creating backups.
For Victims Of Phishing Attack
Even if you have been careful, phishing attacks can occur. If you have been using an email address or a computer that was provided by your company and have fallen prey to a phishing attack, inform the IT department immediately.
To prevent malicious use of sensitive information, call up your bank or other service providers that might need to know about this attack. Issue orders to stop transactions from your account and block your cards without waiting any longer. If necessary, it may be important to bring the matter to the notice of law enforcement agencies.
Phishing attacks can be prevented if you keep track of suspicious activity. Be cautious and add a few extra layers of security to avoid such instances.