Smart people are scammed every day because they think it can’t happen to them or they just aren’t aware of the scams. And the scammers have gotten very good at disguising their scams, so it’s often hard to recognize them.
Scamming generally involves a form of social engineering. Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It relies on human interactions, such as trying to gain confidence of someone through trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or device access. This can take many forms, both online and offline.
Smart criminal hackers use social engineering as a very effective tool and as a part of their strategy when gathering information to piece together the parts of their scams. In my opinion, it’s just a fancier, more technical form of lying.
Social engineering has always been a “person-to-person” confidence crime. Once the scammer gains your trust, they use this information against you in the hopes of gaining access to your finances.
Be confident in your ability to outsmart the bad guys. Here’s five things you should know:
Don’t click links in emails, text messages, chat. Any link, whether shortened or not, can point to somewhere it shouldn’t. If you need to click on the link, make sure you have security software installed that will block you from automatically being directed to a malicious site.
Be wary of multiple recipients and who the email is from. If the email is going to you and a dozen other people, or it’s from your bank but the from email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org, then you should be suspicious.
Note generic/spammy/nonexistent subject lines. Look in your spam folders. There are some pretty ridiculous subject lines, right? If something like that shows up in your inbox, delete it.
Down with scammer grammar. If it is SPELD rong or IN ALL CAPs or ,has ,those ,stupid ,commas in the wrong ,place, it’s a scam.
Urgency or ridiculous requests. There is no hurry; you didn’t win anything and your uncle from Latvia didn’t leave you any money. Just delete ‘em.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! (Disclosures)