If you are like most of us, you have undoubtedly received an email that has asked you to click on a link. Did you click it? If you did, you are like 99% of internet users because clicking links in 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 log in. If you ever did this, you may have been the victim of a likely 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 interesting looking email that they hope you are going to click on…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 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.