Don’t Get Hooked In: Anti-Phishing Awareness
With cybercriminals constantly refining their tactics to trick unsuspecting victims, phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to spot. Just one wrong click can get even the savviest internet users caught up in a scam.
As a business owner, the consequences of a successful phishing attack can be particularly devastating. As well as financial losses, it can also lead to reputational damage and legal implications if clients’ information is compromised.
The good news is, we can be proactive in protecting our personal and business information from even the stealthiest scammers! In this post, Clarity Accounting’s IT Delivery Partner, David Menzies of For Each Technology Ltd, will guide you through the steps you can take to stay safe and secure online.
Before racing to follow instructions given by an email, it’s essential that you first take a moment to double-check the sender’s address and domain.
Scammers will often pretend to represent a company you know and trust, such as your bank, utility company or even favourite online clothing store. Fraudulent emails can appear seriously official, and it may be difficult to spot the difference between a phishing email and the genuine correspondence a company sends out.
One thing that can’t be so easily faked is the sender identity. So, check that the email address matches up with emails you’ve received before. Often, scammers will use an email address that’s off by just one letter; for example ‘email@example.com’. Any email address that’s full of random letters and numbers should also raise red flags.
You might be shocked by the chaos a single click can cause! Concealing malware or an attempt to steal personal information, phishers will often lure people in with a link contained in an email or text message.
Always hover your mouse over links to preview the URL before clicking. If you spot misspelt words, a lot of text and numbers, or if the link doesn’t match up exactly to the hyperlink content, there’s a good chance you’ve just saved yourself from a phishing scam!
Equally, if you weren’t expecting an attachment - or the sender you’re interacting with doesn’t usually attach files - it’s best not to click on them without investigating first. This is particularly true when it comes to .PDF and .Zip files.
A favourite tactic of phishing scammers? Creating a sense of urgency. Using calls-to-action like ‘confirmation needed’ or ‘act now’, they’ll claim you need to move swiftly to protect your account from suspicious activity or to prevent it being blocked.
This sly tactic works because, in a moment of panic, even the savviest internet users may click on a link without checking it first. If you recieve an unexpected request to take action or provide sensitive information, independently verify it through official channels first.
We all know how it goes - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why if you recieve an email or message offering an amazing discount, free product or government refund, you should be on high alert for a potential scam.
This is another example of scammers counting on a strong emotional response to momentarily cloud your judgement. After all, who doesn’t get excited by the promise of a big win, refund or discount?
No matter how tempting, avoid clicking on any links that ask you to claim a prize and definitely don’t give out financial information in order to redeem it. Instead, contact the supposed source directly through their official email address or phone number.
Software updates often include patches that fix vulnerabilities or bugs that hackers can exploit to access your system or data. By regularly installing the latest updates, you can massively reduce your risk of cyberattacks and protect your personal and business information.
Most software and apps have an option to enable automatic updates. This means they’ll be updated as soon as they are rolled out by the developer. Enabling automatic updates is the easiest way to keep your software current without having to constantly check for updates manually.
On the flipside, fake software updates can be a way in for phishing scammers. Therefore, never download or install software updates from unknown or suspicious sources. It’s always safest to go directly to the software or app’s website and use the official update channels provided there.
A strong password is the main barrier between your information and hackers. Therefore, it’s absolutely vital that you create strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts and change them regularly. Avoid publicly accessible information like birthdays, your year of birth or even your favourite football team. These are details that a savvy cybercriminal could find in order to crack your password.
As much as you might hate the extra hassle, enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible. Those few extra seconds it takes to log-on could save you serious time, money and headaches by preventing your account being taken over by scammers.
Safe and Secure with Clarity Accounting
Here at Clarity, we’re absolutely committed to safeguarding your personal and financial information. As well as strict security protocols, our IT department is proactive in identifying potential threats and ensuring that all staff are educated on the latest phishing tricks and tactics.
If you’ve got any questions about our protocols or want to know how you can better protect your financial information, get in touch with us today!