Everything You Need to Know to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are on the rise. In 2021, phishing attacks accounted for more than 80% of cybersecurity incidents. When it comes to data breaches, around 90% of incidents can be traced back to phishing activity. Phishing attacks come in various forms, but all aim to access sensitive information, intercept communications, or steal valuable data assets.

For businesses, especially if you have homeowner association websites where you store a lot of data of homeowners and solutions, phishing attacks can be incredibly costly. IBM found that data breaches resulting from phishing cost a typical business more than $4.6 million. However, individuals are also at risk from cybercriminals. Read on for everything you need to know to protect yourself from phishing attacks.

Phishing Attacks: What Are They?

Phishing attacks typically involve scammers using subterfuge to access your devices or private accounts to access sensitive information. Generally speaking, scammers pretend to be representatives from credible organizations to establish trust with users. This makes it far more likely for phishing recipients to click on links or open attachments. The ultimate goal of the scammer is to encourage recipients to hand over sensitive information or download malware.

If your device is infected with malware, keyloggers can be installed on your device. This makes life particularly easy for scammers, allowing them to record all your login credentials and passwords. Email-based phishing attacks will link to fake websites that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Before you realize what’s happened, you’ve just shared your account numbers and passcodes with a criminal enterprise.

Once scammers have access to your private account, they’ve full control over your assets. Funds may be instantly transferred from your account. In other instances, you may find your accounts being held to ransom.

Don’t assume your accounts are protected by things like security questions. Bear in mind that we live in an age when most of us readily share personal information via social media channels. If you’re being targeted by scammers, public information can be used to tailor an attack and increase the odds of them accessing your private data.

Types of Phishing Attacks and How to Avoid Them

Laptop having phishing attacks
Photo by Pixabay

Safeguarding yourself against phishing scams is relatively easy. However, different types of scams require tailored defenses. While phishing emails remain a major concern, there’s also domain spoofing to worry about. It’s also essential that you take steps to protect your phone from hacking. Voice phishing and SMS phishing is on the rise and can be hard to spot when you’re on the move.

Businesses are at risk of more advanced phishing campaigns. If hardware isn’t properly disposed of, scammers can access a wealth of valuable information that can be used to refine future attacks. This makes IT asset disposition (ITAD) and data destruction a vital investment for the enterprise.

How to Spot a Phishing Email

Ultimately, however, it’s phishing emails that you’ll want to prioritize. These are, without a doubt, the most successful type of phishing scams. However, identifying an email scam is relatively easy if you know what to look for.

Even the most sophisticated email-based scam will contain red flags. The obvious ones include poor spelling and grammar. Do graphics appear pixelated? This is another telltale sign you’re not dealing with a legitimate email. Direct communication from your bank or other institution will also only ever be addressed to you by name. If an email opens with a general greeting, this is a clear sign you may be dealing with a phishing scam.

Once you’ve identified a phishing email, report the incident to the institution it’s claiming to be from. Furthermore, you’ll want to delete the phishing message and block the sender so they can’t contact you in the future. If a phishing message has managed to penetrate your spam filters, it’s also time to consider an alternative email client with more robust security features.

What To Do if You Responded to a Phishing Email

using mouse of the pc
Photo by Vojtech Okenka

Of course, avoiding a phishing email is the best practice to protect yourself, however, with more sophisticated technology being used by scammers, it can often be difficult to tell apart a genuine email from a scam email. If you suspect a scammer has your personal information through a phishing attack, such as your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov. On this website, you will see the particular measures to follow based on the information you lost there.

Update your computer’s security software if you believe you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded malicious malware, to ensure hackers cannot regain access, and change any necessary passwords. Finally, perform a scan to highlight an additional suspicious behavior.

Safeguarding Yourself Against Phishing Attacks

Thankfully, phishing prevention doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the individual. In 2021, Facebook sued 39,000 scammers who were using the platform to promote phishing websites. However, this was a reactive response that did little to compensate the victims of scammers. To protect yourself from data theft and financial loss, you’ll need to take preemptive measures.

Firstly, trust your gut and use common sense. Alarm bells should be ringing if a message asks you to share sensitive information via text or email. Hire a service to remove personal information from the internet. Avoid clicking on links embedded within the body of an email. Instead, type the link manually into the address bar of your web browser. If you suspect foul play, never open files attached to the email. Some of the most commonly used file formats for phishing campaigns include. XLS, .PDF, and . JS. If any of these formats are attached to an email, take a step back.

Sophisticated scammers don’t want you spending too much time weighing up the legitimacy of a message. As such, they’ll encourage you to act without thinking. If an email or SMS is encouraging you to act urgently, get in touch with the purported sender directly via channels you trust.

Finally, make sure your software is up to date. This includes making sure you’re using the latest email browsers and operating system versions. Whenever an update is available, make sure you’re downloading it. An updated system and robust security measures are the first line of defense against phishing scams.


  • Bilal Akbar

    I am Bilal Akbar, the founder of TechTaalk. I am an expert web designer, graphic designer, SEO, and professional blogger. My specialty is WordPress, and I have spent the past few years in website development, blogging, search engine optimization, and digital marketing.
    I am passionate about helping people learn about technology and how to use it to their advantage. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to use technology to improve their lives, and I am committed to providing that opportunity through TechTaalk.

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