Our modern world is filled to the brim with technology. Technology has developed significantly over time and has become so advanced that we can’t live without it. Just about every single household around the world has some form of device in its possession. Whether it’s a smartphone, a laptop, or even a tablet – it’s practically impossible to live in our modern society without some kind of device.
Ever since the dawn of the internet age though, technology has been plagued by cybercrime. A new threat was developed and it causes headaches and frustrations for many people even to this day. Getting an understanding of cybercrime might sound like a daunting and difficult task, but it’s not as bad as you might expect.
One of the most common methods used by cybercriminals to launch their attacks though is a phishing scam. Phishing has been around for decades, but it’s become far more common, and developments in the strategies and tactics used by cybercriminals have made phishing scams much more difficult to spot. Luckily, there’s still some hope. We’re going to show you some of the tell-tale signs that will show you how to spot phishing scams and keep your devices safe from harm.
What is Phishing?
To get a complete understanding of phishing scams, we first need to go back to how they were originally used. In its most basic form, a phishing scam is when a cybercriminal sends an email to its victim. The message in the email will urge the victim to interact with a link or attachment.
Interacting with a link or attachment in the phishing email will give the cybercriminal the upper hand. Once you click on a link, one of two things could happen. The first is that malicious software can be installed on your device. Malicious software, also known as malware for short, is used to cause damage to your device. Malware can range from viruses to spyware and even ransomware. Despite manifesting in many different forms, all types of malware are dangerous and should be treated with caution.
Clicking on an illegitimate link in a phishing scam can also direct you to a website that has a keylogger installed on it. A keylogger will copy everything that you type into the website and give it straight to the cybercriminal. Oftentimes the hacker will set up the website to require specific information from you such as your login credentials, your personal information, or even your banking details. Once they have this information they can set about committing several different crimes such as identity theft and fraud for example.
How Phishing Has Developed
Now that we have a basic understanding of how phishing works, let’s dive into how it has developed from this basic form into something that has become much more difficult to identify. Understanding the development of phishing will greatly help you to learn how you can spot phishing scams from a mile away and not fall victim to them.
Cybercriminals have started using social engineering to trick their victims into falling for their phishing scams. Social engineering is a tactic that hackers use and it involves manipulating and deceiving their victims into falling for their cunning strategies.
Modern-day phishing scams have become difficult to spot because of social engineering as cybercriminals pose as a person or company that the victim might know and trust. This makes it much more likely that they will fall for the phishing scam and the cyberattack will be a success.
An example of a modern phishing scam is where the hacker will pose as Netflix, sending an email to the victim to inform them that they must update their billing information or risk having their account suspended. The email will contain a link to a website that captures anything that the victim types into it. The problem though is that these phishing scams are so well crafted that it makes them nearly impossible to distinguish from a real Netflix email. Hackers will replicate the look and feel of the email and the website by copying the logos, color scheme, and even the font that Netflix uses.
Moreover, phishing has now spilled over into other channels aside from emails. Links can be created on websites and disguised as images or icons. This means that if you accidentally click on the wrong image or icon while surfing the web, you could have malware installed on your device.
Social media is also becoming another popular vehicle for phishing scams. It’s arguably easier for cybercriminals to use social media because of the vast array of information they can find about their victims. For example, if someone is following a particular band on social media, they would likely love to attend one of their live concerts. All the hackers need to do is set up a fake giveaway where the entrants can win a free concert ticket in exchange for some personal information or perhaps the creation of an account using the same login credentials as you have set on social media.
How to Spot Phishing
With all of these developments in the world of cybercrime, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest trends. Luckily though, there are a few things you can look out for when it comes to phishing scams. It might be difficult to spot them, but it’s not impossible.
The first thing you want to do is to double-check the sender’s email address. If it’s anything other than the official email address from the company sending the email, it’s a phishing scam and you should ignore it.
It’s also a good idea to avoid clicking on links and attachments in emails. When you’re asked to log into a website or update your account details, take the extra few minutes to take the long route to log in rather than following the link.
Spelling and grammatical errors can also be a dead giveaway because reputable companies will always triple-check their work before it’s sent. Finally, keep an eye out for generic greetings at the start of an email. If you’ve got an account with a company or website, your name will be in their database, and they will use it when sending you emails.