If you are like most people, you have undoubtedly received an email that has asked you to click on a link. Did you click it?
If you did, no worries, you are just like 99% of internet users – everyone has clicked a link before, it is pretty normal. But, in some situations, you may have found that the link took you to a new or maybe spoofed website where you might be asked to do “something”, i.e. enter some information or even login to an account. Once you entered your username and password, they have it…
If you have ever done so, you were likely a victim of what is known as a phishing attack, and these attacks are getting fishier all of the time.
A What? Phish? Fish?
It’s called a phishing attack, and yes, it’s a play on words. When you fish, you throw a hook and worm into the water and hope you catch something. Hackers do the same when they phish.
Except, their hook and worm, in this case, is an carefully crafted email – designed to look like something you should get – which hackers hope you are going open…its then, that they can reel you in.
There are a few different types of phishing:
- Spoofed websites – Hackers phish by using social engineering. Basically, they will send a scam email that leads to a website that looks very familiar. However, it’s actually a spoof, or imitation, that is designed to collect credit card data, usernames and passwords.
- Phishing “in the middle” – With this type of phishing, a cybercriminal will create a place on the internet that will essentially collect, or capture, the information you are sending to a legitimate website.
- Phishing by Pharming – With phishing by pharming, the bad guys set up a spoof website, and redirect traffic from other legitimate sites to the spoof site.
- Phishing leading to a virus – This is probably the worst phish as it can give a criminal full control over your device. The socially engineered phish is designed to get you to click a link to infect your device.
Can You Protect Yourself from Phishing?
Yes, the standard rule is “don’t click links in the body of emails”. That being said, there are emails you can click the link and others you shouldn’t. For example, if I’ve just just signed up for a new website and a confirmation email is then sent to me, I’ll click that link. Or if I’m in ongoing dialog with a trusted colleague who needs me to click a link, I will. Otherwise, I don’t click links in email promotions, ads or even e-statements. I’ll go directly to the website via my password manager or a Google search.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video