In life, you encounter all kinds of people. There are those whose kindness is evidently clear, those who are living their lives without causing any harm to the universe or their surroundings, and those whose attitudes are borderline evil and tend to look for their own benefit without having any sense of compassion about the wellbeing of others.
The Internet is a similar platform. It is full of people with thoughts and acts centered around philanthropy: they run a charity or nonprofit organization destined for various ends with the sole intention of making a positive difference on the planet. Of course, there are also those – the vast majority – who use the web world to their benefit, but in an honest way.
However, the Internet is also full of shady, evil, and malicious people, just like the world we live in. Hackers, cybercriminals, spammers and malware developers are continually looking or ways to inflict damage to a specific user or to an entire community, with the intention of gaining profit or any kind of benefit in an illegal way.
In this article, we will teach you how to stay safe from all the shady characters who also rule on the Internet.
Does the Internet equal the Evil Empire?
Just like the real, tangible world, the Internet makes for a perfect environment for all kinds of crimes: identity thefts, viruses, copyright infringement, DDoS attacks, phishing attacks, Ransomware attacks, and other unfortunate situations.
Among the threats and hazards associated with the use of the Internet, scams are arguably the most dangerous. They are designs and strategies to steal resources from you, primarily money. At the most unexpected moment, you may click on the wrong place; receive a phone call, text message or email, and your online security could get compromised because you may be introduced to a scammer.
Prevent and don’t lament
Scammers work by sending spam emails or building fake websites to trick people into thinking they are dealing with a trustworthy company when they are not. They engage innocent and naïve people into providing too much personal and financial information.
It is, therefore, crucial to understand and spot fake websites to avoid being spammed. You would be surprised if you knew how many people give away their usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information just because they think they are dealing with a renowned enterprise.
Hackers and cybercriminals are very good at convincing people to trust them by using empathy and sympathy. Fortunately, these people can often be identified in advance, so preventive measures can be adopted.
What is Phishing?
The activity involving scammers and their intentions and performances of pretending to be a renowned enterprise or entity to trick people into revealing a little too much about themselves is known as phishing. It is fraudulent and considered a crime in numerous societies and locations.
They often operate by sending emails or building fake websites to persuade people into “contributing for a good cause,” or “investing in a once in a lifetime opportunity.” They mask behind the identity of an influencer or a world-famous company.
As Internet security evolves, scammers and people conducting phishing attacks also make adjustments. They come up with innovative ideas to engage people, such as sending a message from their “bank” to confirm account details.
If you click on the messages or links to download files, you may be introducing a new threat to your life. A Trojan or any other malicious program or software will install a keystroke logger on your device, which will gather everything you type.
If you log in to your bank “website,” or at least the one you think it is, you should find the fact that it asks for your ATM PIN, debit card number or password odd, at the very least. Misspelled sites are also common tools for scammers to take advantage of people’s naivety.
How to recognizing phishing and fake websites
Identifying these threats and criminal activity is the first step towards “salvation.” You can follow these tips:
They use an incorrect URL
Scammers use names that are the closest possible to the one whose identity they want to use to trick people into falling for their tricks. If you see that the URL address of your “bank” is not the same that the one you usually access, see it as a sign of alert. Put the mouse pointer over a link in the email to make sure that it takes you to the same page that the email came.
They ask for banking information
Think about it. Why would your bank ask you for your ATM pin or your credit card number, for example? They have that information and don’t need it to validate it is you accessing the account. These institutions won’t use an email to ask you for that information in the very unlikely case they need it.
They use a public Internet account
These scammers often use public accounts to send messages. Don’t click on any emails or attachments before seeing the sender’s address. No bank or enterprise will send a message from a public account, so take this tip into consideration when you think about clicking the urgent communication from your financial institution. As an additional advice, ensure that any note contains your first and last name.
They tend to misspell words
A responsible banking institution, especially in a reality in which every little mistake gets scrutinized and criticized by the masses, will double check before misspelling a word and sending it via email or uploading it for a prolonged period of time in its website.
They aren’t secure sites
Respected and renowned companies use the safer Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) platform for enhanced protection for their users. Don’t provide any payment information or credit card numbers to a site without the “S” at the end of the sequence. That means that communication and data shared is not encrypted, and that would greatly compromise your online security.
They tend to display low-resolution images
Since scammers and cybercriminals build their sites quickly, they don’t have the time of picking the best images or editing the ones they have. The poor resolution of images can tell on them, as renowned companies or banks usually have a staff that makes sure little details like that don’t occur frequently.
Conclusion: How can I spot a spam email?
- It threatens to close your account if you don’t act quickly.
- The sender’s email is not the same of the enterprise’s one.
- The message is sent from a free webmail address.
- It asks you to provide personal or financial information.
- It has grammatical or spelling mistakes.
- It doesn’t use your entire name, using things such as “dear client” instead.
- The quality of images is poor
How to spot a phishing website
- The site doesn’t use the HTTPS protocol for security and encryption.
- There are spelling errors in the page.
- The site address is different to the real company’s.
How to protect yourself online
We’ve previously covered many subjects on how to stay safe online. In relation to phishing e-mails, you can adopt these measures to stay away from scammers:
- Inform yourself: Make sure you know and understand the latest scamming attacks. Don’t be the latest victim.
- Use common sense: Think before you act. Ask yourself questions: why would your bank ask you for your ATM pin or card number? Why the message has so many errors? Why isn’t the site encrypted? Common sense dictates the pace.
- Be one step ahead: Enter a fake password or avoid the message altogether, check for spelling errors or low-quality images, use a VPN, enter these sites from a search engine, and generally try to be one step ahead of the scammer.
- Use technology: There are specific tools that you can use to enhance your protection against scammers and spammers. For example, you can use the McAfee SecurityCenter or a reliable anti-virus software.
In conclusion, no one is more responsible for your online and data security than yourself. You are the one at the helm, so think before you act and gain protection against hackers and cyber criminals trying to steal valuable information from you. Don’t click on unknown attachments, check the address you are accessing and compare it, be wary of the quality of images and spelling errors; and keep your head in the game.