In today’s modern world, one of our primary ways of communication is through email and messaging platforms. We not only use these communication tools for work but also to connect and stay in touch with our friends and family. So, it should come as no surprise that these platforms have become the primary focus area for cybercriminals who use a cyber-attack technique referred to as Phishing to catch their unsuspecting victims.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of cyber-attack that looks to trick you into an action that results in the cybercriminal gaining access to your personal information or passing on malicious hardware. These emails or messages may ask you to click a link, open an attachment or share information such as an account password. What makes this technique so successful for cybercriminals is that they’ve become so good at making these communications look like they are coming from a legitimate source, such as your bank or even someone you know.
What are the typical warning signs of a Phishing email/message?
While phishing is rampant, the good news is there are some pretty clear warning signs or clues that the message you are looking at is illegitimate. Here are the 6 red-flags to look out for:
1. Always check the sender address
One of the most useful ways to spot a message scam is to look at the sender’s address. Check for anything that might be out of the ordinary. For example, an email claiming to be from your bank but is coming from a gmail account. Or the sender domain is some odd variation of the sender’s usual domain.
2. Things that are too good to be true
As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true…it probably is! And this is a BIG red-flag for potential phishing emails or messages. For example, winning a lotto draw you didn’t enter, long lost relatives claiming to hold your inheritance, crazy flight specials and out of this world one time offers!
3. An urgent ‘Act Now’ request
Further to the ‘Things that are too good to be true’ rule, cybercriminals often use the ‘limited time offer’ technique to create a sense of urgency, encouraging you to ‘ACT NOW’. If you see this type of messaging, make sure to scrutinize the message a bit further to make sure it’s not a phishing scam.
4. Requesting of personal information
A big ‘NO NO’ in online communications is the sharing of your personal information. Especially when it comes to sharing any passwords or sensitive information. Cybercriminals are able to take this type of information to hack your accounts or can even steal your identity to carry out fraudulent transactions.
5. Poor grammar
Messages riddled with spelling mistakes and poor grammar are common in phishing scams. Be sure to read through the content carefully and if it’s a poorly written message, chances are, it’s cybercriminals trying to catch you out.
6. Messaging tone
If the apparent sender is someone you know or an organization you are used to receiving communications from, check to see if the tone of the message is what you would normally expect to receive. If it seems odd or out of character, then this should be a warning to sign to you that the sender is not who they claim to be.
Protect yourself online
Remember to always keep your wits about you when using online communication platforms and be on the look out for the types of red-flags mentioned above. Should you be unsure about any communication received, rather be safe and contact the organization or sender directly to query whether the message received is legitimate or a possible phishing scam. In these modern times, it’s also highly advisable to have a cyber insurance policy in place. Click here to find out more about about our personal cyber insurance offering, Cyber Rescue and request a quote today.