Hackers are using different methods to access our accounts and personal details for illegal uses. One of the most effective and common methods is phishing. We are using the internet for many of our daily tasks that make a way for hackers to launch a phishing attack. Hackers have made it very difficult even for an expert to identify these attacks. According to a study by Intel, 97 percent of security experts are unable to identify phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are not only common in emails, but there are also phishing websites. They make you click on the malicious link to access your account or personal details such as banking details. Once they get access to your data, hackers may create new credentials or install malware into your computer for stealing your data.
In this article, we will discuss tips to identify phishing websites & emails. We will divide this article into two following parts:
- Tips to identify phishing websites
- Tips to identify phishing emails
Tips to Identify Phishing Websites
For identifying phishing websites, you can follow the following tips:
1. Check the URL
Checking the URL is an important thing to determine the validity of a website. There should be a padlock in the address bar. The URL must start with “https://” or “shttp://”. The ‘s’ shows that the website is secure with an SSL certificate. If you do not see any of these things in the URL, the website is suspicious, or at least it is not secure to provide your data.
Another important thing to notice is the spelling of the website. Hackers make a slight change in the spelling of a famous website to trick you. For example, a website that ends in a .CO.UK might be converted into .org, or the letter O could be changed to number 0.
2. Assess the content within a site
For developing an official website, developers take care of everything. From look to the spellings and grammar, everything will be polished. But, if you are using a phishing website, despite using the same name and style you will feel the difference between an official website and a phishing website.
Some of the differences are spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and low-resolution photographs. If you find anything like this, immediately leave that website. Another thing that will be missing on a phishing website is the contact details of the website owners. All the official websites have a separate section on the contact details of the company.
3. Check ownership of the website
When we apply for an SSL certificate, the certificate-issuing authority asks about the ownership details of that website. So, an official website will have to provide these details to obtain an SSL certificate. Users can check these details if they want by clicking on the website details.
If you are using a phishing website either they will not provide such details, or the website will be registered against an individual.
4. Read online reviews
It is a good practice to do some research on the company you are going to engage with. You can check the reputation of that company by looking at the online reviews about it. If a company is trustworthy, reviews by its customers will be positive. But, if it is a phishing website, the comments by the victims will definitely be negative. If it has more negative comments than positive ones, the website is surely a suspicious one.
5. Trusted payment methods
An official website will be doing its payments through credit cards or other portals like PayPal. If a website is not offering any of these two options, you should be careful about that website. A phishing website will offer the only bank transfer option. A legitimate website will never ask its customers to use this method. It shows that no banks have allowed that website the credit card facility.
Tips to identify phishing emails
For identifying phishing emails, you can follow the following tips:
1. Legit companies don’t request your sensitive information via email
If you receive an email from an institution that contains a link or attachment and asks you to fill that form. In that form, they will ask you to provide your sensitive information such as your banking details or credentials. It is a scam and is a phishing email. Reputed companies do not ask for sensitive details of their customers via email. They will also avoid sending links for logging you in.
2. Legit companies usually call you by your name
In a phishing email, the hacker will address you by using generic terms such as “Dear customer” or “Dear account holder.” If a company you are dealing with requires some details via email, they will address you by your name or will ask you to contact them via phone. The phishing email will look exactly the original, but you can avoid this email by following this tip.
3. Legit companies have domain emails
It is not important to check the name of the sender of the email. The thing that matters the most is the email address. All the reputed companies use a specific domain in their email addresses such as jordon@paypal. Check if any modification has been made in the domain name such as firstname.lastname@example.org. It is good to keep these things in mind. You can avoid this by just keeping an eye on the email address.
4. Legit companies don’t force you to their website
A legitimate company will never direct you to its website via email. This is another thing that hackers do to trap you by phishing emails. Sometimes phishing emails are programmed completely as a hyperlink. When you click on such emails, it directs you to a phishing website. If you unintentionally click on such emails leave them immediately.
5. Legit companies know how to spell
One of the easiest ways to identify a phishing email is the grammar check. An official email by a company will be composed by a professional, and will not have any grammatical mistakes. It does not mean that hackers do not know about this thing. They are doing this on purpose, they target the uneducated considering them easy targets.
The Final Words
We have discussed tips to identify phishing websites & emails. Another thing we can do is to keep a close eye on the URL of a website or the address of the email. The website should have an SSL certificate installed on it. Phishing is becoming very common and dangerous these days. We have to follow these tips to identify phishing attacks and secure our data.