The rapid technological advancements made in the field of communication have benefitted us greatly over the last decade. Communication has become more efficient and streamlined, thus enabling ease of access and breaking boundaries like never before. However, with these new advancements in communication, there have been rising instances of misuse of communication platforms for illegitimate gains. One of these misuses is the act of ‘phishing’. Phishing is a cybercrime that can be defined as a method of targeting a contact or several contacts via various communication platforms such as email and telephone and illegally posing as a member of a legitimate institution or company with the intention of luring innocent customers into divulging sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers among several other pieces of information. This information can then result in identity theft and financial loss.

While the first incident of phishing was recorded back in 2004, it is still one of the biggest and most blatant acts of cybercrime on the internet. While thousands get affected by phishing scams every year, taking a few precautions the next time you use the internet will help keep you protected from identity theft and financial loss. Keep reading.

How do I spot a phishing email?

While scammers have got smarter and have used increasingly convincing methods to trick even the most alert of internet users, there are always a few obvious signs that can raise flags the next time you see a potential phishing email address. A few of these tell-tale signs are as follows:-

  • Phishing mails will almost always contain content that claims to seek information with regards to your personal information, such as telephone numbers, credit card details, residential addresses etc.
  • Mails sent from potential phishing email addresses will always direct you to click on a link to make a ‘payment’ or to add information like the examples mentioned in the earlier point.
  • Phishing mails will first try to lure you into their scams by promising to offer you free coupons or discount offers. This is done to claim authenticity and gain trust.
  • Phishing mails usually imitate or pretend to be contacting you from legitimate institutions such as banks or schools or insurance companies. This way, they make the unsuspecting victim believe the email is legitimate.
  • Such mails will often ask you to fill in your personal information.
  • Such mails will also often include an invoice that is not authentic in order to supplement or aid the need for information from the victim.
  • Mails sent with the intention of phishing often tend to have strange email addresses. This should be one of the biggest tell-tale signs that the email address is illegitimate and intends to cause harm to you. Some signs include spelling errors in the names of the institutions the scammers are pretending to be from in the email address.

Now that you’ve learnt how to tell if the mail being sent to you is legitimate or not, here are the steps to take to prevent yourself from falling prey to the act of phishing

How to protect yourself from phishing

  • Protect your accounts with multi-step verification. Most communication platforms offer and encourage the use of multi-step verification for the protection of sensitive information from cyber-criminals. Doing so hardly takes any time and the extra efforts will only guarantee you protection from any potential phishing attempts.
  • Use passwords that are longer and complex. Often, people set up weak passwords that can easily be broken into with a simple guess and this is why acts like phishing have become more prevalent in the last few years. Try to make use of special characters and numbers in your passwords to make them harder to break into.
  • Keep yourself updated with the recent happenings and news in the tech world. It is important to do this in order to better understand any developments in scams like phishing and the measures you can then take to keep yourself safe.
  • Regularly update your software. Software updates often bring along improved security features that make it more immune to attacks from cybercriminals.
  • Install anti-virus/anti-malware in your device to offer better protection and regular updates along with periodic scans of your device to keep away any potential phishing activities.
  • Make use of email verification services. Email verification services like X-EmailVerify help you verify email addresses in your list, while filtering out the excessive illegitimate spam mail addresses and keeping them out of your list. This can help you greatly and protect you from having to even interact with any phishing email addresses.

While cybercrimes may be on the rise and may often create a perception of fear and danger in the minds of innocent users around the world, it is important to understand that with the right precautionary measures, you can arm yourself to not be affected by any such attacks in the present or even in the future. We hope the tips mentioned in today’s article help protect you from phishing or any such illegitimate cybercrimes. Happy emailing!