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Protecting against phishing

Updated on July 13, 2016

Phishing (pronounced fishing) scams are among the most prevalent forms of cybercrime, targeting unsuspecting victims. Although phishing is widespread, it is possible to identify and prevent. Apart from ensuring you install security software, the best way to combat scams is to educate yourself to what these scams are and how to identify them. I found a video from Meridian Banking that explains phishing very well, and even though its aimed at Meridian customers you should get the idea.

Now that you have an idea of what phishing is and what forms it can take lets go through some addition steps you can take to protect yourself.
1) Be wary of emails asking for confidential information - especially information of a financial nature. Legitimate organisations never look for this information over email or the phone, if you get such a call or an email you should contact that organisation independently using know contact information from previous correspondence such as a statement or contract.

2) Make sure you when signing up to a new website's that you read there privacy policy. The majority of commercial websites have a privacy policy, which is usually accessible at the foot of the page. In this policy look for the website's policy on whether it will or will not sell its mailing list. If the site in question does sell its mailing list see do they have a policy that allows you to sign up and opt out of this feature if not you might want to consider do you really need to join the site in question. The majority of spam and potentially dangerous phishing emails you receive come from sites you have signed up to that have sold your mailing information to another company or companies.

3) Make sure you maintain effective software to combat phishing. Most Internet Security suites automatically detect and block fake websites. Some will also authenticate major banking and shopping sites. I have also stated in another blog how you can add security plugins to your browser that will help identify dodgy sites and links.
4) Never use links in an email to connect to a website unless you are absolutely sure they are authentic. It is very easy to add a fake link or hyperlink text that will bring you to a fake site or similar looking website. To avoid this open a new browsers and type in the url subtle differences could bring you to a fake site (eg) is the AIB banking site what if the link you received was would you know the difference?

5) Never submit confidential information via forms embedded within email messages. This is not a secure practice and all reputable companies know this. If the form is part of a phishing attack the senders are often able to track all information entered.

6) Think twice about opening attachments from senders you are not familiar with eg. getting an email off an unknown address with an attachment labelled as "invoice". If you are not expecting an invoice and you don't recognize the sender chances are the attachment is carrying a malicious payload delete it!
7) I will end with my pet hate, clicking articles on social media that are clearly made up just so you will click on them. eg BREAKING NEWS: Pamela Anderson shoots president Obama over views on healthcare! This is clearly a bullshit article don't click on it, you can be guaranteed you are entering a world of spam and malware.

I recently came across a bluebird care campaign surrounding cybercrime and the elderly. As part of that campaign they had an infograph that I think is a super informative and can be viewed by clicking here.


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