Phishing – How Not to Get Caught
It may sound like a gentle hobby involving riverbanks, rods and rubber waders, but phishing is anything but relaxing. It’s just one of the many scams used to steal confidential information, such as passwords, pin numbers and details to get access to your money, bank and Paypal accounts.
Cyber-criminals are on the increase, using sophisticated methods to look plausible. Fortunately, there are ways, other than chucking your maggots at them, to fight back. Here’re a few top tips to help make sure you don’t get caught.
- Supercharge your security. Install anti-virus software and firewalls and make sure you have the most recent updates on your operating systems and browsers.
- Be a sensitive soul. Only enter personal information on secure websites – those that begin with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ stands for secure) and have a closed lock icon on your browser.
- Phish around a little. Learn how to identify dodgy sites. There are things to watch out for, such as duplicating the images of a real company or actual names of employees, or promoting gifts and freebies.
- Think before you link. Never go to your bank’s website by clicking on a link within an email, as it could lead directly to a fraudulent site. Always type the URL directly into your browser.
- If in doubt, shout. The best way to prevent phishing is to reject any email that requests you provide confidential or personal data. If it’s alleging to be from your bank, let them know – sharpish.
- Account for it. If you don’t check your online accounts regularly, somebody could be phishing for gold on a regular basis. Get into the habit of logging in and looking out.
- Mix it up. Change your password regularly. And don’t go for the obvious. ‘John1234’ might seem highly original to you, but it probably does to millions of other guys called John too.
- Stop the pop-ups. These tend to look like legitimate components of a website but all too often they’re phishing attempts. If your browser allows it, block all pop-ups. If not, never click on the cancel button as most lead to phishing websites. Always click the small ‘x’ in the upper corner of the window.
- Spam’s a scam. Be wary of emails that come from senders you don’t recognise, aren’t personalised, are intimidating and demand a response or action or request information about you.
Remember, there’s no fool-proof way to guard against all phishing attacks. But, if you take a few simple steps and be on your guard, it will help to keep your personal information exactly that – personal!