Since the Internet became crucial to the efficient function of offices around the world, and since email became the fastest and best way to communicate between both companies and individuals, malicious and lazy hackers have attempted to use phishing tactics to scam innocent people out of their money or precious personal information. Phishing has been an issue in global cyber crime for decades, and so many of the scams end with the phrase “I really should have known better.” From stories about rich African princes who need donations to access their wealth to miracle medication that cures every ill, phishing scams have tricked people out of money as well as sensitive financial and personal information — from both individuals and companies alike.
Though the world has become much savvier at avoiding falling prey to phishing scams, for some reason, hackers still see returns on the most basic of Internet scams. If you’re looking to amp up the network security in your home or office, make sure you understand the real and significant danger of phishing scams — and how to keep from falling for them yourself.
Hackers and phishers play on a variety of human weaknesses to steal information and money from their targets. Some of these tactics are as old as computers, but many of them are being developed as the Internet grows and expands into new territories. Here are a few basic assumptions cyber criminals use to deceive you into participating in their phishing scams as well as a handful of ways to keep yourself and your company safe.
You Don’t Know Much About Computers
The average computer user is computer capable — meaning he or she can use computers quickly and effectively for daily needs like social media, online shopping, or work-related activities — but not necessarily computer literate. Most computer users don’t understand the language of computers, meaning they have difficulty distinguishing between legitimate and fraudulent websites. This is also related to users’ general lack of knowledge concerning security, including misunderstanding key security alerts.
Most, if not all, phishing scams utilize this insufficiency of computer knowledge to trick the average computer user. You can remedy this by brushing up on your basic computer knowledge. There are plenty of free online webinars to help you get started, or you can check out your local university for more in-depth study. It also helps to have the best possible security systems for your home computer and company network — visit www.safenet-inc.com for more information.
You Are Attracted and Fooled by Design
We are a visual people, so we rely heavily on the information provided by our eyes. If a website looks smart and is organized like legitimate sites we have dealt with in the past, we are likely to trust that website’s information and provide it with some of ours. The problem with this is that plenty of hackers use our reliance on visual information to trick us into lowering our guard and surrendering our data.
Methods such as placing malicious links on attractive images, using confusing fonts to disguise incorrect URLs, covering your screen with windows that seem fine and even simply copying and pasting the code from a safe website and hiding dangerous links are all ways phishers use your eyes to get your personal information. Before you click a link — even if you think the website is trustworthy — look closely at the URL and other aspects of the site to determine whether you really know what you’re getting into.
You Really, Really Want What They Are “Selling”
Playing on human hopes and fears is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it translates perfectly into phishing for information. For example, countless people have self-esteem problems related to weight, so a fake diet plan or drug that supposedly helps individuals shed pounds quickly without any work is sure to give a smart hacker more than a handful of credit card numbers. Cyber criminals are aware that plenty of people are willing to overlook certain fishy indicators to get the product or service they want.
Before you buy into a product or service that is perfect for your needs, consider the source of the product and whether you can trust it. Too-good-to-be-true items are usually just that — frauds — and it isn’t worth opening yourself up to invasion and identity theft just to try out some new miracle cream that makes cellulite disappear like that.