Anyone who uses email can be a target for phishing scammers. When people ask, "what is phishing?" the most common scenario is as follows: You open your email and suddenly an alert from your bank appears in your inbox. When you click the link in the email, you are taken to a webpage that looks, more or less, like your bank's — but is actually designed to steal your information. The alert will say there is a problem with your account, and ask you to confirm your login and password. After entering your credentials on the page that appears, you are usually sent to the actual institution to enter your information a second time. By steering you to the legitimate institution, you don't immediately realize your information was stolen.
Phishing tricks victims into giving over credentials for all sorts of sensitive accounts, such as email, corporate intranets and more. Even for cautious users, it's sometimes difficult to detect a phishing attack. These attacks become more sophisticated over time, and hackers find ways to tailor their scams and give very convincing messages that can easily trip people up.
The first thing you can do to protect yourself when using the Internet is to employ common sense before handing over sensitive information. When you get an alert from your bank or other major institution, never click the link in the email. Instead, open your browser window and type the address directly into the URL field so you can make sure the site is real.
Another major indicator of a phishing site: The message has typos and the site looks unprofessional. Because hackers often rush to get phishing sites up, some of them will look significantly different from the original company.
One of the simplest ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a phishing scheme is to install and use proper Internet security software on your computer. Internet security software is vital for any user because it provides multiple layers of protection in one simple-to-manage suite. By combining the firewall, anti-spam and anti-malware into one package, you can provide extra backups that keep your system from being compromised if you do accidentally click on a dangerous link.
Anti-spam software is designed to protect your email account from phishing and junk emails. Aside from working with pre-defined blacklists created by security researchers, anti-spam software has intelligence capabilities to learn over time which items are junk and which are not. So while you still should be vigilant, you'll get some comfort from knowing that the software is also filtering out potential trouble.
Anti-malware is included to prevent other types of threats. Similar to anti-spam software, anti-malware software is programmed by security researchers to spot even the stealthiest malware. With ongoing updates from vendors, the software continues to become more intelligent and better able to deal with the latest threats. By using a free anti-malware package, you can protect yourself from viruses, Trojans, worms and more.
While technology is a rapidly evolving field, by using a security package from a reputable security vendor, you can protect yourself from phishing and other malware threats.