I don’t have to tell you that identity theft is a big problem in today’s highly electronic society. I also don’t have to tell you that cyber criminals feed off of our private information. Now, given that our private information is so vital to their mere existence it stands to reason that they are going to find a way to acquire it. Right?
So, they can go about it the hard way – like having to actually “hack” into your account(s), tap your network or physically steal your computer. OR they can go about it the easy way – which in fisherman terms – is to cast out a great big net onto naïve victims to see who might literally hand them the information they require.
Now, being a fisher of men is a pretty good thing. Phishing to steal from them is another story. To protect oneself from being a victim of the later kind you must first understand what “phishing” is.
Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire private data such as a person’s username and password, credit card information, and/or account numbers by masquerading as a seemingly trustworthy entity. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or text message, and it often directs the user to enter details at a fake website that looks almost identical to the legitimate one.
The first thing to know without question is that no legitimate bank (for example) will ever lose your username and password nor send you an email requesting that you “update” your account information. Period. The same can be said for Facebook, Ebay or any other site that you may have purchased from or joined.
With that said, they might send you an order confirmation but typically you would know if you just ordered something. At least I hope you would. Further, if you just joined a site you would know that too. So you could expect a “thank you for joining” email. Pay close attention to emails that confirm a password or username change. These requests are a little harder to ignore. In fact, you may very well have just engaged in these very things. Remember timing and stupidity gullibility are what “phishermen” are hoping for but there are some rules of thumb that will help keep you out of their nets.
First is action. When you receive any email asking you to respond in some way – DO NOT click on the link provided within the email. Instead, go directly to the site yourself. This will insure that you have gotten to the legitimate site and not the fake phishing site. Once there, look for the https:// in the URL before entering in information that you prefer be kept secure. Keep in mind that “security questions” are helpful to include when you set up new accounts and be sure to always use “complex” passwords.
Second is avoidance. Enlist the help of an “email filtration device” that will help weed out many of these phishing emails and spam in general. This piece of hardware is especially helpful to businesses that receive email messages in greater volume. They lower the risk by catching most spam, phishing and virus infected emails in their OWN nets and keep the user from being confused by them in the first place. They also keep your inbox clean and keep your network running proficiently.
Finally, embrace your inner skeptic and second guess everything you receive in an email or text message – including items that give the appearance that they came from a friend OR your friendly neighborhood banking institution.
Copyright © 2011 Help Me!!® Tech Team, a division of HELP ME!!® Computers, LLC
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