Ever since the internet became accessible, there have been phishing scams. You’ve all probably heard about the Nigerian Prince scam which may seem ridiculous now, but actually trapped a lot of people back in the day. Such phishing scams take your personal and financial information and misuse it for nefarious purposes. Now that most people have access to the internet with facilities like Spectrum Cable and WiFi plans, scammers have a larger audience to target. Therefore, you should take all steps possible to avoid them.
The problem is that these scams are evolving every day and are using various new methods to steal information from people. Whether this is through social engineering and emails or through password guessing, it can be quite harmful to you. If your data is compromised, then your personal safety and financial accounts may be at risk. Therefore, scammers use a variety of phishing methods. You need to avoid these scams at all costs and follow a few basic safety measures. Here are a few of them to start with.
Do Not Share Personal Information
You should not share your personal or financial information with anyone, no matter how urgent they sound. Many phishing scams take place on the phone, where they ask you for information like account details, pin codes, and social security numbers. Do not respond to such questions, and report such calls to the appropriate authorities.
Also, be wary of such incidents online and do not enter important information just anywhere. Make sure you only use websites with encrypted forms and with legitimate security certificates. Also, check whether the websites have HTTP or HTTPS prefixes. The latter is much safer, and you should avoid entering your information in the former.
Do Not Open Unverified Email Links
Your email inbox, especially the spam folder, will be full of random emails telling you you’ve won something or have been selected for some unheard-of international program. Then, they’ll ask you for personal and/or financial information so that you can receive your reward.
However, you should know that these rewards do not exist. Such emails are blatant phishing scams, and are sometimes extremely crafty. So, you must verify the source of any email you receive and then respond accordingly if you feel like something looks legitimate. Watch out for language errors, bad design, and other such warning signs as well.
Confirm the Veracity of Social Media Links
When you’re scrolling through social media, you’ll often see ads and posts prompting you to go to certain links. However, in many cases, these links may be phishing scams or may even inject viruses or other malware into your systems.
Therefore, when you come across such links, hover over them to verify the source. If they are shortened links, avoid them, and do not fall for tempting offers which seem too good to be true.
Install Security Software
One of the best lines of defense is antivirus and anti-malware software. This will keep most threats and alert you if there is some suspicious file or activity on your devices. So, make sure you get a licensed version of such software and keep it running on your systems in the background.
In addition, you should also run deep scans regularly using this software so that your systems are cleaned of all suspicious or extra files in a proper way. Do not use pirated software, as that could put your system at even higher risk.
Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication
One of the easiest ways to prevent your information from being misused is to set up multi-factor authentication. This way, even if your password or information is leaked, there’s another line of defense.
Make sure you implement this authentication on all your devices so that your information is as safe as it can be. Most banks already have this in place for online transactions, so you should call up your bank to activate it if it isn’t in place. This authentication can include biometric verification, codes, or any other factor which helps protect your information from malicious phishing attempts.
Back-Up Your Data
Even when phishing attempts turn out to be successful, you should still have a failsafe. Sometimes, you’ll have to wipe your data to prevent it from being misused. In other cases, hackers may compromise this data and make it inaccessible for you.
Therefore, you must keep physical data backups in a safe location. Back up your data regularly in an external hard drive, and store it in a safe place only you and authorized personnel you trust know about. This will help you take action even if a phishing attempt is successful and let you render your data useless to malicious parties.
In conclusion, there are multiple ways in which you can avoid phishing scams. Most of these are quite simple and go a long way towards protecting your information from leaks and hacks.