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How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams

a laptop showing email phishing scam on the screen.

Phishing scams are one of the most common types of cyber-attacks that both business owners and employees are likely to fall victim to. Phishing is known as the fraudulent practice of sending emails designed to trick people into revealing sensitive personal data to the attacker. Whether it is getting access to passwords, credit cards, or any other type of sensitive information, these cyber-criminals are able to use email, social media, phone calls, and other forms of communication to steal data from individuals. Unfortunately, there are thousands of people who suffer from phishing email scams every year, especially companies and their employees. Read to discover how to recognize phishing email scams and learn the best practices on how to avoid them.

How to Recognize Phishing Scams

For starters, phishing scams can come in all sorts of forms, so it is always important to be cautious when opening any sort of message from an unknown sender. Additionally, phishing messages typically have common characteristics that are often used to trigger some sort of action. When you receive a suspicious email or message, be on the lookout for these common components that may reveal the message is a scam:

  1. Emails that are demanding urgent action

Many scammers will design their emails in an effort to get immediate action from the victim. In many cases, phishing emails will threaten negative consequences or a loss of opportunity unless a certain action is taken.

  • Emails that are requesting login credentials, payment information or sensitive data of any kind

It is important to take extra caution when receiving messages that ask for sensitive information, especially if you do not know who the sender is. However, cyber-criminals known as “spear phishers” are also able to forge login pages to make the appearance identical to the real source but including a link that directs the victim to a fake page. This is why individuals must make sure emails are 100% legit when they have been redirected to a login page for payment information or other personal data.

  • Too good to be true emails

We have all been here. Receiving an email, text message or even direct message on social apps expressing that “you have been selected as the winner” of an incredible prize. Hackers will use these types of incentives to get vulnerable people to click on links or open attachments to receive some sort of reward. In the majority of these cases, if the email seems unfamiliar or the recipient did not initiate the contact, it is likely a phishing scam.

How to Best Avoid Phishing Scams

While email spam filters may do a decent job at keeping fraudulent emails out of your inbox, there is still always a possible risk of falling victim to a phishing attack. These days, cybercriminals are doing everything they can to outsmart spam and security filters, so it is a good idea to ensure an extra layer of protection. A few ways to stay safe from phishing attacks include:

  1. Think twice before you click

Clicking on links that are included in random emails and messages is never a smart idea. Before you click, hover over the link to be sure that you will be led to a reputable source. However, many phishing emails will attempt to disguise themselves as reputable sources. When in doubt, it is best to go directly to the source yourself rather than clicking on a dangerous link that could lead to dangerous consequences.

  • Never give out personal information

A good rule of thumb is to never give out any personal information over the Internet. Many phishing emails will direct you to pages that require financial or other personal information to continue. If you are ever unsure, always go to the main website of the company in question and call a representative to confirm that the email is legitimate.

  • When in doubt, delete

If you do not know the sender of an email or message, or if you are suspecting that something is off, delete the message and report it to your IT department or managed service provider. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Trusted Information Security Services in Jacksonville

In today’s data-driven world, cyber threats continue to expand in businesses of all sizes and industries. At BrightLink Technology, our trained IT professionals will help mitigate vulnerabilities within your business network and create a business continuity plan in case of any future data breach. If you are searching for professional IT services in Jacksonville, we encourage you to contact our office today.