Internet Security 101: How to Detect a Phishing Email

Phishing attacks arrive in your inbox 95% of the time, and if you’re not paying attention, you will fall victim to the attack. What’s a phishing attack?

How can you spot one? Below you’ll find a list of different ways how to detect a phishing email before handing over your personal information.

What is a Phishing Email?

Phishing is when cybercriminals send emails out with malicious intent. The purpose of the email is to trick people into providing specific forms of personal information that give them access to your company data systems or financial data.

Phishing isn’t one technique used; cybercriminals constantly adapt their strategies to keep people from spotting their scams. These techniques include misdirecting the receiver of the email or lying to them to get what they want.

Phishing emails do their best to persuade you to take some form of action without considering the consequences of these actions, but there are ways to spot them before you give up valuable information.

How to Spot a Phishing Email?

There are several ways to spot a phishing email. The key is to take a moment and review the email in its entirety before you take any form of action.

Doing this gives yourself time to decide how to handle an email, whereas if you mindlessly take action, it could take longer to detect that your system has been hacked and take the needed steps to recover from the attack.

Check the Sender of the Email

One of the many signs of a phishing email is an error in the sender area of the email. Often, while the sender name looks legit when you expand the box to look at the email, it’s not.

The email will often have several misspellings in it or be a series of letters and numbers that have been combined randomly. When you check the email sender, ensure it matches with someone who works internally for the company.

If it’s a name or email you’ve never seen before, it always helps to call the person using your phone or send a different email and type in their address which should be housed in your company contacts.

If they work for the company, there will be a way to find their contact information using the company database.

Errors in Spelling & Grammer

The next sign a cybercriminal is targeting you is problems with spelling and grammar. Cybercriminals send phishing emails hoping that you’ll take action so quickly that you don’t notice any errors in grammar and spelling.

Most hackers don’t take the time to type out each email they send. Instead, they use machines that translate the email for them, and if you’ve ever used voice text, you’ll know it’s never 100% accurate.

Before replying or clicking any links in the email, take some time to look over the spelling and grammar. In the professional setting, one thing you always do before sending out essential emails is reviewing the content you’ve written.

You might even use a grammar checker to ensure you’re conveying the right message before sending it. But hackers don’t do this, and it’s a giveaway that you’ve been sent a phishing email.

Rushes You to Respond

Cybercriminals understand that time is of the essence. Therefore they include wording in the email that persuades you to respond or take action as soon as possible.

For example, if you receive an email stating you’re the winner of a prize, but you have an hour to respond, you’re reading a phishing email. You’ll find that these types of phishing emails ask you to confirm personal information to claim your prize.

If it’s not the promise of a reward, the email might attempt to make you believe something is wrong with your accounts. For example, the email might detail suspicious activity with your banking account and ask you to log into the account using the provided link.

Remember that your bank doesn’t require you to log in outside the designated banking portal, and most banks don’t call you.

Request to Open Attachments

Over time we become desensitized to the idea that people send you emails with malicious files attached. This is mainly because we receive and send many emails throughout the day, but that should cause you to be even more aware of the attachments you click on.

Attachments sent with a phishing email will have malware embedded in them. The malware is designed to expose your computer and its data as soon as you’ve opened the link.

Once you’ve opened the attachment, the cybercriminals take over your computer, and you must then act quickly to keep all your information from being stolen. Depending on your desktop’s settings, you might be alerted that the email may contain spam attachments.

This serves as a helpful reminder to check the attachments and the email in its entirety before you open anything or respond. If you find you’ve clicked on a malicious attachment, you should contact the provider of your IT services and notify them immediately.

How to Detect a Phishing Email?

It can be tricky to answer how to detect a phishing email because cybercriminals continue to update their techniques. However, you can always take steps to be vigilant and decrease the chances of falling victim to a phishing email attack.

Always review the sender of the email and check the body of the email for grammar and problems with spelling. Want to know more about protecting yourself and your data in the cyberworld?

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