Networked technology is one of the greatest innovations of our lifetime. The ability to share and access information from half a world away at the click of a button is truly life changing. Unfortunately, as with all great modern conveniences, along with this technology comes responsibility. That responsibility involves being aware of and understanding the hazardous side of its use – as it relates to this article, “phishing”.
Phishing involves the using of networked technologies to access and steal private, personal information and/or data. If you are connected to the internet, you need to learn how to spot a phishing scam before any of your important information is compromised and potentially used to destroy your personal or financial reputation.
Phishers are getting more and more clever with each of their phishing scams. The most common method involves attacking unsuspecting victims via mass emails seeking to trick them into sharing sensitive information. For example, these emails often advise that sensitive information needs to be updated for one reason or another and a link is offered for the completion of this event. Unfortunately, the provided link takes the victim to a fake site run by the scammers. Once they enter the requested information, phishers use it to open up credit in the victim’s name and start spending. Some victims even give up credit card numbers to unknown phishers only to find out later that those accounts have been charged to the limit.
Any person can fall for one of these scams, especially when the phishers happen upon individuals who actually do business with the institution they are falsely representing (remember that they often send them out en masse just hoping to come across a few uninformed individuals who aren’t paying attention to their actions).
One of the most common recent phishing scams involves an email from package carrier “DHS” warning that a US law has been broken and that, unless a $300.00 fine is paid via prepaid money card, their computer will be locked and legal actions pursued by the FBI. This is known by the FBI as “FBI Ransomware” as they are using the FBI’s name in the email.
Luckily, there are ways to avoid these traps. First, copy and paste the link into a browser instead of just clicking on it and make sure the URL is legitimate. Second, scan the email for any grammatical errors or misspelled words (phishers are generally sloppy and ignorant of proper communication techniques). Third, if you suspect that something isn’t right, use your best judgment and contact the institution in question.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam, take the following procedures: contact a reputable computer expert to get rid of any malware that may have been downloaded, file a complaint at www.IC3.gov “http://www.IC3.gov/”, and keep your antivirus and antispyware software updated.
Remember – anyone can fall for a phishing scam, so read your emails carefully. If you continue to be responsible in your use of the technology, it will continue to provide all of the great benefits that you’ve come to enjoy. While we aren’t an IT company, we do have some reliable connections in the industry and would be happy to recommend solutions – just contact us at 1-866-496-2042.
[schema type=”person” name=”Matt Lescault” orgname=”Lescault and Walderman” phone=”866-496-2042″ ]