Phishing is an extremely common form of fraud that is similar to phone impersonation attacks that occurred before consumer Internet became widespread. Phishers set up websites that impersonate authentic webpages run by banking institutions, credit card companies, and a variety of other legitimate services. A victim might receive an email from this so-called institution, requesting the victim to update their profile information, change their password, or participate in a survey. The information the victim willingly provides online is then used for fraudulent purposes. Here are a few online browsing tips to keep in mind to avoid these types of attacks.
Before you click on an outgoing link on an email, Microsoft urges Internet users to first check the actual web address of a link before clicking on it. Phishers often use deceptive anchor text – the visible part of the link – to trick readers into clicking links in their email. If you are convinced that this website represents a reputable company, then you might feel comfortable enough entering personal information in this web form. You can check the validity of an URL by first hovering over the link. Scrutinize the URL – if it does not match with the company’s official web address, then do not click it. A few other red alarms include URLs with: number sequences, misspelled company names, non-traditional top-level domains (like .co at the end of an URL), and domain names that include gibberish.
Check HTTPS Security
Most reputable websites that require logins use a security protocol known as HTTPS. This prevents attackers from intercepting usernames and logins during the sign in process. Before you sign into an online account, examine the login page URL at the top of your browser. It should read “https://” before the web address. If you do not see this security protocol being used on a website, then double check the website address to make sure it’s authentic.
Keep Your Tech Updated
Updating your software and operating systems can prevent many current attacks. These patches often come with security updates that prevent current vulnerabilities from affecting your computer. Periodically run software and system updates overnight, so that it doesn’t interrupt your workflow.
If you are the victim of a phishing crime, contact the authorities and make sure you research and select a good attorney to learn about the types of recourse you have. Internet fraud can threaten your online accounts and assets, so it’s important to take action immediately. Before you click unknown links, be sure to examine URLs and security protocols.