How to identify phishing?

In today’s world, the internet is a boundless space of opportunities, but at the same time, it’s a place where fraudsters and cybercriminals lurk. Phishing is one of their deceitful methods, where they impersonate a legitimate organization or individual to steal your personal information. Thus, detecting phishing websites becomes an increasingly important element of online security to preserve your confidential information and protect it from scammers. Let’s take a closer look at phishing today and discuss several useful tips on how to recognize it and avoid the dangers it poses.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of internet fraud aimed at extracting personal data from unsuspecting or inattentive network users. Fraudsters disguise themselves as legitimate companies or organizations to deceive people into giving away their passwords, bank card numbers, PIN codes, or other important data.

Common internet phishing methods include:

  • Emails. Scammers send fake emails that appear to come from well-known companies, such as banks, payment systems, or online stores. These emails often contain links leading to fake websites that look real. If you click on such a link and enter your data, scammers can immediately steal it.

For example, internet criminals send you an email that supposedly comes from your bank. It states that your account is blocked or that you urgently need to update your data, and it contains a link to a fake bank website where you are prompted to enter your data. This should already alert you. After all, no banks offer to confirm such data via email.

Another example could be receiving an email from someone you supposedly know but haven’t communicated with for a long time. It mentions that this person is in trouble and urgently needs your help. They ask you to transfer money to a certain account and provide its details. This could be the first «red flag» that the email you received is phishing.

  • Phone calls. In this case, scammers call people and pretend to be representatives of banks or other companies. They may ask you to confirm your personal data or transfer money to another account. Unfortunately, this practice is popular among older people, who are quite trusting individuals and are most susceptible to such influences.

As an example – someone calls you, claiming to be a representative of your bank, and informs you that there are problems with your account, and to resolve them, you need to confirm your personal data or transfer money to another account.

  • SMS messages. Additionally, scammers can send SMS messages with links to fake websites or asking to call a phone number that actually belongs to them.

For instance, you receive an SMS message stating that you’ve won a prize in a lottery or contest, and it provides a link to a fake website where you are prompted to enter your data to claim the prize.

Again, be cautious! This already indicates a phishing threat to you.

  • Shared resources in social networks. Internet criminals can also post links to fake websites or infected files on social networks.

For example, you see a publication about a sale in a well-known store on one of the social networks. It contains a link, which is likely fake, to the store’s website, where you are offered to buy products at very low prices. Carelessly following this link, scammers can learn all the personal information about you.

So, what to do to protect yourself and your data from phishing threats? – Learn to recognize them! How exactly? – Let’s talk about that next.

How to Recognize Phishing?

1. Carefully check the URL address.

Before performing any actions on a website, carefully check the URL address. Phishing sites often have similar but not exact copies of legitimate web pages. Pay attention to any inaccuracies in the URL, such as spelling mistakes in the domain name or additional symbols.

2. Check the security certificate.

Most legitimate websites use SSL certificates to encrypt data transmission between your browser and the server. So, check for a green lock in the browser’s address bar and the presence of «https://» before the domain. The absence of these signs may indicate that the site is not secure.

3. Carefully review letters and messages.

Be cautious with emails or messages from unknown individuals or organizations. Phishers often use email to send letters containing links to fake websites. Do not click on links or attachments from such letters without prior verification.

4. Check the website’s reputation.

Before entering personal data on a website, do additional research on its reputation. Use search engines or online tools to check for user reviews, security ratings, and other trust indicators.

5. Don’t share personal data.

Never send personal data through unreliable websites or email. Legitimate organizations will never ask you about it through insecure communication channels.

6. Use phishing protection software.

To increase security, use antivirus software and other phishing protection tools. Many such programs can block access to fake websites and warn you about potential threats.

7. Learn to distinguish authenticity.

Lastly, learn to distinguish legitimate websites from fake ones. The more you know about typical phishing tactics, the easier it will be to detect them.

Always remember that protecting your personal data is your responsibility. So, follow these tips and always be cautious on the Internet to avoid potential phishing threats and scammers.