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Avoiding Email Phishing: 4 Red Flags
Email phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated and harder to spot. According to PCI Security Standards Council, “Phishing costs the average U.S. organization more than $3.7 million annually”. That’s a lot of money.
With many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are for the first time communicating primarily through email. Cyber criminals are aware of this, and are taking action to take advantage of people during this tough time. It’s for that reason that an extra degree of vigilance is required in recognizing scam emails.
Intel Security developed a quiz that tests the consumer’s ability to recognize phishing emails. The data was collected from 144 countries and 19,000 people.
Here’s what they found:
- Only 3% of respondents answered correctly
- 80% of respondents got at least 1 wrong answer
- The worldwide average score was 65.4%, which means test takers missed one in four phishing emails on average
What is a Phishing Scam, and How Does it Work?
Phishing scams are usually fraudulent emails appearing to be sent from legitimate businesses you trust, such as: your bank, credit card company, internet service provider, etc. These emails may contain links infected with malware or the link may direct you out of the email and onto a fake website. These fake websites look almost identical to the real websites. That’s why these phishing scams are so successful. The cyber criminal’s goal is to get a user to enter their sensitive information into the fake website. Victims may be tricked into giving up their usernames, address, passwords, social security number, or credit card information.
4 Red Flags To Look For
Bad Grammar: Let’s start with the most common signs of a phishing email-bad grammar and misspelled words. If you’re careful the mistake can be easy to spot like, “ Dear Custumer” instead of “Dear Customer.” However, if you’re not careful, you might not even notice it. While reading through your emails keep in mind that any legitimate company will have professionals writing and editing their marketing emails. They don’t just send out an email without checking it several times. So, if you notice a spelling or grammar mistake, it’s probably a scam.
Generic Email Greeting: Most phishing emails are sent to thousands of people at a time. For that reason, be on the lookout for emails that have generic greetings like , “Dear Customer” or “ Hello.” Some phishing emails don’t have a greeting at all. If an email is not specifically addressed to you but is asking for your personal information, it’s probably phishing.
Fake URL: Phishing emails typically contain malicious hyperlinks that appear to be legitimate. For example, the link in your email will contain your internet service providers name. But, if you use your mouse to hover over the link (do not click it), you may notice that in a little pop up window the URL is different from the one shown in the email. The URL will not have your internet service provider’s domain name. Spend time checking links in suspicious emails.
It Asks For Personal Information: Reputable companies, big or small understand the severity of a phishing email. That’s why they will never ask for your personal information through an email. If you get an email from a company asking you to “update your account information” or “reset your password,” do not do it from the email. Instead, check out the situation yourself by opening up a new tab and typing in the company website yourself.
Cyber criminals go above and beyond to make their phishing emails look as real as possible. To keep your personal information safe from cyber criminals always, stop and look for red flags.
December 21, 2020