Phishing Attacks: How to Recognise & Avoid Them?
Sep 18, 2020

Recognize Phishing Attacks and Prevent Yourself With These 6 Tips

You must have received at least one email or SMS or have come across a social media post saying something like, “Your number xxxxx9878 has won $30,000 in the lottery. Click here to claim now.” You want to click on it even if everyone advises you against it, but hope is a primary human emotion and one of the strongest human emotions, making us do some crazy things. Phishing leverages this fallacy of human emotion to dupe innocent people with another one of their cyber attack gimmicks. Phishing attacks are not new. In 2006, Websense Security Labs found that the scammers and cybercriminals are posting phishing posts on the Google SERP. Come today, the Cert-In (nodal agency for cybersecurity in India) has advised that Indians may be the primary target of phishing attacks perpetrated by North Korean cyber criminals.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a well-planned strategy that lures the target with a fake offer sent via the phone, email, or an SMS. The motive of sending phishing messages is to acquire the user’s personal information. This can be passwords, bank details, credit or debit card numbers, CVV, and even the OTPs to validate a transaction. Phishing attacks have some essential characteristics. Like they will seem too good to be true (the lottery case); impose an urgency (limited time offers); misspelled domain names (bankofarnerica.com); and free software or files (.txt, .apk). Phishing meaning can also be interpreted with excitement and anxiousness to take action before someone else eats the fruit. However, as an informed citizen, take a pledge to not open or engage with any such offer, no matter how legit it may look. Remember that there is no free lunch in this world. Another important reminder would be to explore and acquire cyber insurance .

Types of Phishing Attacks

Hackers and scammers will use many methods and ways to somehow get you to share the required information. Here are some of the ways that you should know about.
  1. Credit and Debit Card Emails: These scandalous people send spoof emails that look like they are coming from your bank or the credit card provider.
However, authentic emails will only include some promotional offers and simple language. But the phishing emails will create an environment of urgency. So, if you notice some urgent-oriented language in the mail, recheck everything. Plus, open a new tab, open your credit card or bank’s official website and confirm everything from there.
  1. Email Phishing: You might receive emails that will ask you to enter your bank account details or update the debit card number to receive a reward.
Sometimes, the scammers also send emails from other authentic and reputed financial institutions, like Paytm or PhonePe for any reason that is posited to convince you to share your personal information. The key with these emails is that they are designed meticulously to resemble the format used by the legitimate institutions. These phishing attacks can be used to either let you install malicious software, or access a certain link that will inflict ransomware or a spyware attack on your system.
  1. Website Phishing: Lastly, accessing websites and sharing your personal information on these websites is yet another way to get duped by the scammers. When you access a bank’s website from a spoof email, the website will also be designed to imitate the features and layout of the original one.
But, here too, keep an eye out for the intricate details like the URL, logo, layout, and also the language. If you feel that the website’s language reeks of urgency, bounce off right away.

How to Identify Phishing Attacks?

Apart from the “Urgency” environment created by the emails, there are a few distinctive characteristics of phishing emails. Keep an eye out for these things:
  • Before entering your personal information on any website, check the name and logo.
  • The attachments of a phishing email are either HTML files or Macros. Both of these types of files are already infected with malware. When you open, download, or engage with them, the hackers will get access to the system. So, DO NOT open attachments.
  • Lastly, look at the subject lines of the emails and messages that you receive. Nobody out there is generous enough to send you money or an Amazon gift card, or even a free iPhone through the mail. Any subject line offering such lucrative free gifts and cash prizes is a red flag.

Preventive Tips to Protect Yourself from these Attacks

Safeguarding yourself from a phishing attack requires you to be alert, aware, and smart. Here are a few things that you should do when you receive an email or an SMS.
  • Information is Power: Make yourself fully aware of the latest phishing attacks and tactics used by scammers. Follow a couple of cybersecurity blogs to stay abreast of what’s happening.
  • Think and Click: Before you open any website or click on a link, read it. No two websites will have the same name. So, if you have an account with the ICICI bank, a phishing email might be missing one “I” and you won’t notice before clicking the link.
  • It’s Personal Information: We all receive messages from banks and other institutions stating that XYZ will never ask for your personal details in any matter. So, if you get a call, an email, or a message asking for it, the chances are that it is not true.

Cyber Insurance Coverage

Yes, you can secure yourself in case a phishing attack is successful. Rest assured that your cyber insurance coverage will pay for the monetary losses due to an attack, irrespective of its nature. Other than this, the cyber security insurance policy will also cover the expenses put in to fight legally within the territory set by the Information Technology Act, 2000. Becoming a victim of such an attack also involves some level of social stigma, due to which, some people might not even report it. However, that is not the right thing to do. You must take preventive measures, and if you get duped or in case of identity theft, get help, and nothing can be more damaging than losing all your money and personal life to scammers and hackers. Avail the cyber insurance benefits , stay alert and be smart.

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