• Matt Blackmore

10 Top Tips to Detect Phishing Scams

A phishing attack is a form of social engineering by which cyber criminals attempt to trick individuals by creating and sending fake emails that appear to be from an authentic source, such as a business or colleague. The email might ask you to confirm personal account information such as a password or prompt you to open a malicious attachment that infects your computer with a virus or malware.

Tip 1: Don’t trust the display name

A favourite phishing tactic among cybercriminals is to spoof the display name of an email. Email addresses and domain names can be easily spoofed. It is, therefore, crucial that you check the domain name for spelling alterations on suspicious emails. Even if they appear to have come from a trusted sender, always double check.


Tip 2: Look but don’t click

Cybercriminals love to embed malicious links in legitimate sounding links. Hover your mouse over any links you find embedded in the body of your email. If the link address looks weird, don’t click on it. If you have any reservations about the link, send the email directly to your cyber security team.


Tip 3: Check for spelling mistakes

Brands are pretty serious about email. Legitimate messages usually do not have major spelling mistakes or poor grammar. Read your emails carefully and report anything that seems suspicious.


Tip 4: Analyse the salutation

Is the email addressed to a vague “Valued Customer?” If so, watch out, legitimate businesses will often use a personal salutation with your first and last name.


Tip 5: Don’t give up personal or company confidential information

Most companies will never ask for personal credentials via email, especially banks. Likewise most companies will have policies in place preventing external communications of business IP. Stop yourself before revealing any confidential information over email.


Tip 6: Beware of urgent or threatening language in the subject line

Invoking a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic. Beware of subject lines that claim your “account has been suspended” or ask you to action an “urgent payment request.”


Tip 7: Review the signature

Lack of details about the signer or how you can contact a company strongly suggests a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details. Check for them!


Tip 8: Don’t click on attachments

Including malicious attachments that contain viruses and malware is a common phishing tactic. Malware can damage files on your computer, steal your passwords or spy on you without your knowledge. Don’t open any email attachments you weren’t expecting.


Tip 9: Don’t trust the header from email address

Fraudsters not only spoof brands in the display name, but also spoof brands in the header from email address, including the domain name. Keep in mind that just because the sender’s email address looks legitimate (e.g sendername@yourcompany.com), it may not be due to email spoofing. A familiar name in your inbox isn’t always who you think it is!


Tip 10: Don’t believe everything you see

Phishers are extremely good at what they do. Many malicious emails include convincing brand logos, language, and a seemingly valid email address. Be skeptical when it comes to identifying phishing in your email messages. If it looks even remotely suspicious, do not open it.

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