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What is Phishing and How to Avoid

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What is Phishing and How to Avoid

Phishing (fishing) is on the increase because our computers are better protected with anti-virus software, we have better computer support and less need for computer repairs. Attackers trying to steal your information will try to fool you with bogus emails, pretending they are from a company you trust — a deeper look at phishing. It is on the increase. We all must be very wary.

While all of us have anti-virus software and check our computers for viruses regularly, ‘phishing’ attacks can get around any protection we have. If you don’t understand phishing, and you are not sure if you are a target, this article is for you. A perfect example recently was when a company was faking Windows computer support. They do this, to get you to give them information, so they can then steal your identity or access your email accounts. Here is a deeper look at this issue.

  • What is Phishing. Phishing is when someone sends you an email that looks like it comes from someone else, in an attempt to get information from you. This is not the same as those ‘scam’ type emails we are all very familiar with. It is an email that may look very professional, that say came from your bank, Gmail, or even Windows. Usually, those attempting phishing will use a company that you know and trust very well. As you can see from the word, ‘phishing’ comes from the word, ‘fishing’. They are fishing for information. Phishing does not only take place on email, and sometimes it will happen on your phone.
  • Recent Example in Australia. Just recently I was contacted on my mobile phone from some people who was pretending to be from Windows. I knew straight away this was a strange phone call. They were advising me that my system needed an update, and that I would be getting an email from them. No big company would ever ask you for any of your personal details as they were in this phone call. They were asking to confirm my name and my email address. I told them I had the number they were calling from, and that I would be reporting this to the police. In this case, the phishing was taking place via the phone. I spoke to a friend who had also had this call, and who did give up the information. Soon after that friend received an email that looked like it was from Microsoft. The email was asking for more detailed information, saying their computer needed specific computer repairs that could be downloaded from the email. I showed my friend how this email was not to be trusted.
  • What happens When You Click on the Link? What normally happens in the fake email is you are asked to click on a link. After you click on the link you are taken to a website, that looks very much like the real website, asking you to enter in your normal account details. Such as your email, or your bank, or any other sensitive information that the attacker is looking for. These websites are constructed to look very much like the real thing. In reality, they are a bogus website, just collecting your information. Even if someone has access to one of your email accounts, they can start stealing your identity and learn a lot about you.
  • How to Avoid. The number one rule on how to beat any phishing attack is very simple. There is no company that you can trust that will ever ask you to give out your personal information. An email that is asking you to do that, is a phishing attack. The attackers send out these emails to many people at once, in the knowledge only a few people will fall victim. Even if they get the information from a small number of people, they can still get a lot of money. Any phone call, and any email where a company you use and trust, is asking you for sensitive information, is always a phishing attack. The only way you can protect yourself is to be vigilant with every phone call, and every email.

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