Top Five Ways to Prevent Phishing

Geek!This is Ognjen Regoje’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Phishing is a Cybercrime where the criminal attempts to acquire important information about you, such as user names, passwords and credit card details. It is usually done by sending fake emails and redirecting unsuspecting users to fake websites whose look, feel and even the URL are quite similar to the original and legal ones. With the increasing number of Phishing websites and people who make them, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish between a real site, and the ones that are there just as a front. However, by following these five easy things you can avoid being the victim of such emails.

  • Check who the email is from – This is an extremely effective and easy way to stay safe. Just check the sender of the email. If the email address is not the domain of a legitimate bank/service, then it is certain that it is a phishing scam. Also, be aware of banks or institutions who send you an email saying you need to verify your account information, and it’s a place you don’t even do business with! Simply delete any emails like these.
  • Do not follow a click here link in the email – Phishing emails usually have a “Click here to re-enter your user information” kind of link that leads to an illegitimate website. This is not fool-proof. Just by looking at the link, you may be able to determine whether the link is the real deal. Also, do not just focus on the domain, take a look at all the slashes that follow. Also, make sure that if there is a copy-and-paste link that the one that is embedded is the same like the one written. Furthermore the connection should be encrypted – the link should start with https:// instead of http:// . Don’t click the link in the email thinking you will set them straight. Instead, you would have just fallen into their trap by letting them have your information.
  • Check contact information provided in the email – A lot of Phishing emails contain bogus contact information that would just serve you into their hands. In case you get an email with a phone number or an address, check that against the one that you got when opening the account. If they are not the same the email is a scam.
  • Check the information about you provided in the email – Perpetrators are getting better and better at obtaining your information. Just because they know your name does not mean that the email is legit. They could have gotten that from any social networking website. Instead, if there is any other information provided, such as an account number, make sure it corresponds to what you have.
  • Use your browser – All newer browsers have some sort of website identification mechanism that allows you to check the identity of the site. “Real” websites will have that information… while those set up solely for the purpose of farming information will not.

By following these simple steps you can decrease your chances of being hooked by a phisher (a little pun intended). Now that we have taught you more about how to stay safe, why not test your Phishing IQ?