How To: Prevent Phishing Attacks

Earlier this week, United States law enforcement indicted four individuals over the 2014 hacking of Yahoo in which half a billion users had their sensitive data stolen. The main purpose of this attack was to target government officials and corporate executives in order to gain access to their email and other online accounts. Once these hackers identified their targets they used a common hacking technique known as phishing in order to gain access to their accounts. Phishing is when someone sends a forged email that appears to be on behalf of a website. This is intended to get the user to enter their username and password under the false assumption that it is requested by a legitimate source. Over the years, these emails have become more and more sophisticated in nature, with the goal of making them indistinguishable from legitimate company mailings. Phishing is a hacking technique that can target anyone, and with these simple tips you can better protect yourself from the hackers attempting to steal your sensitive information.

1.) Make sure your antivirus and spam filtering software are up to date.

As threats and attacks become more and more sophisticated, so does the software used to defend against them. Most software used today is designed to constantly release new updates, so make sure that you are using the most up to date version.

2) Beware of emails asking for personal information.

Most banks and financial companies make it a part of their company policy to prohibit contacting customers for personal information unsolicited. This is one of the main red flags to spot a phishing attempt, so be wary of how you distribute your personal data.

3) Check links in emails for spelling errors and other minor changes.

Phishing attacks are often successful due to the links’ appearance of legitimacy—but upon further examination have small mistakes and typos.

Employing the use of these three simple techniques can help ensure your personal data stays safe.

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