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Phishing and Cutting the Line

We all receive those emails, “Update your password, your data has been breached.” While some of these emails are completely legitimate, more nefarious individuals have found methods to breach your secure data attacking the weakest point, You.

Phishing attempts happen very often. I know that I personally have received many in my time. They can come via email, phone call, or even in your mailbox. In most cases phonies are easy to spot, particularly via phone or standard mail, but what about emails? We know well enough not to click links we don’t trust, but what about those emails that look convincing, those emails that are so close to the real deal, what do you look for to tell the difference?

First if you are suspicious, you should check who it came from, does the email address look correct? Compare it to other correspondence you may have received, whether it be a bill, or just a password reset email that you have completed yourself. What about that link to reset your password, does the URL look correct if you hover your mouse over it? While these are a few things to keep an eye out for, they are far from foolproof. Let’s say you clicked the link and are now on a site that looks pretty close, if not identical to the site you received correspondence from, but you’re still suspicious. Again, check the URL in the address bar. Is it different from the URL in the email? Were you redirected several times? If so, then this is likely a phishing attempt.

What do you do now? First, close the browser immediately and do not input any data into the fields provided. Next, do a scan with your preferred antivirus/antimalware. Afterwards, navigate to those sites, and reset your passwords, and change emails, preferably to an underused or new email address.

Now you know what to keep an eye out for, but how do you prevent yourself from even receiving these in the first place? While these methods are far from perfect, here are a few tips that can help:

  • Use email addresses built for a specific need – I personally use several, one for everyday things such as social media (this is the most likely to be exposed). Another account for hobbies I enjoy, such as gaming, craft sites, and sites that teach you new things. Finally, one more that is linked to any sites that have my payment information attached, whether it be for my electric bill, internet, or even Amazon
  • Heed the notices – if you receive an email from a site stating that their data has been compromised in any way, be proactive and take immediate steps to change the passwords and emails by logging into the sites and doing so yourself.
  • Take control of your information – Securing your information is often easier to do than we think, the trick is to stay ahead. Change your passwords often, search the internet for reliable resources to verify if a large site has been compromised, avoid saving your personal information on sites you don’t use often.

Using these methods, and keeping a harsh eye out will prevent these phishing attempts from making a fool of you. We all receive these emails, some of us daily. Keeping a secure mind will further improve your daily life and prevent you from taking the bait.