What is Phishing emails ?

What is phishing emails?

In a very simple manner “phishing emails are an attempt to acquire sensitive information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity”.

Scammers are very strange people. They are just as hard working as you are but they cannot be honest. Even if they are well educated they cannot use their intelligence to be involved with legit business. There must be some element that keeps them away from being honest. Maybe it is greed?

Like many others, they are especially busy during the holiday season. They see this as an opportunity to swindle on other busy people. Consumers are very distracted this time of the year. They are rushed, they are clicking like crazy, getting notification emails from retailers and shipping confirmations.

And at such a moment they sneak into your mailbox with an email from some known company. The mails look like delivery notification or conformation to track an online order. Ones you reply or open an attachment you are giving them a change to break into your computer.

Sometimes they install spyware on your computer that enables them to monitor you and copy personal information like Credit card number or passwords.

Phishing emails can direct the user to visit a website where they are asked to update personal information, such as password, credit card, social security or bank account numbers

If you look up Phishing on Wikipedia here is what you see.

Phishing emails can be very convincing that even an expert can be taken in by a well created fake.

Executives at Intel Security circulates a version of their Email Phishing Quiz to 100 attendees at the RSA Internet Security Conference earlier this year. They discovered that the experts had a hard time finding the phishing emails from the real ones.

The quiz had 10 real emails collected by analysts at McAfee Labs. Some of the emails were legit correspondences from well-known companies and some were phishing emails that looked amazingly believable and they asked if they were True or false?

Only 6% of the quiz takers got all the questions right and 17% got half or more wrong. Remember they are the experts and this is their job. No wonder if a normal person cannot see the difference.

Put your phishing knowledge to a test.  Start the test here

If you get a phishing email you can report it to the company that is being spoofed or you can send a report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

 

7 ways to avoid being scammed with phishing emailsemail3

  • As you can see you need to be very careful and read your email before you do anything. If you are getting emails from companies with incredible offer, check their website. See if the same offer is on their website. You can even contact the company and ask them about this incredible offer you received in an email.
  • Do not click on links, download files or open an attachments in emails from unknown senders.
  • Be cautious of emails that come from unrecognized senders.
  • Never confirm personal or financial information over the internet.
  • Never email personal or financial information, even if you are close with the recipient.
  • Beware of links in emails that ask for personal information.
  • Protect your computer with a firewall, spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

I would love to hear your story if you have been a victim of Phishing emails. Please share your experience with others.

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Please do not hesitate to leave a question or comment below.

Thorhallur Maack

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Thorhallur,

    Thank you for provided such good information on phishing emails. I realised that I’ve been receiving phishing emails in my work email and I’m glad I’ve not clicked on any of them! I tried the phishing test and boy was it difficult to spot. Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Jane

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