What’s the first thing you do when you get an email in your inbox? If you’re like most people, your answer probably involves something to do with reading the content of the email.
After all, that’s why we send emails, right? To share information with each other?
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are well aware of this fact and use it to their advantage to trick their targets into giving up personal information.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is an attempt by criminals to trick people into revealing personal information, such as passwords or credit card details, often for malicious reasons.
A phisher may pose as your bank or internet service provider, asking you to log in and update your account details because their records are being updated. However, you should never be asked for your password or other confidential information via email—always log on directly using trusted web addresses.
If it’s genuine, they won’t mind if you contact them first!
How can you spot a phishing email?
To spot a phishing email, look at both what’s being said and how it’s being said. Ask yourself: Does it make sense that Google would send me an email like that? And if it did, could I tell what kind of email it was?
If there are misspellings in a formal note from one of your trusted vendors or financial institutions, you should also be suspicious.
Double-check any website or URL referenced in an email by hovering over them with your cursor; if they’re not blue and underlined, they’re probably not real.
Why is phishing so effective?
It’s frighteningly easy for hackers to make an email look legitimate. It’s all in how they craft their messages and what links they provide.
Even if you hover over a link, you might not immediately see that it’s pointing to a fake domain—even Gmail accounts, which have been compromised before, have been hacked into.
Why do phishing emails seem so convincing?
After all, they’re often poorly written and grammatically incorrect. They might have bad formatting or use an annoying amount of exclamation points!
What makes phishing so effective is that most people don’t know how to spot a fake email.