Keeping Your Identity Secure: Phishing Edition


Security / Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Security neglect

“Pride goeth before the fall.”

This popular phrase has rung true for many characters throughout history, and to this day we are still witnessing it first hand, and that’s because it’s easy to get cocky. We do it all the time! I can pass that car, I can get an A on that test, I don’t need to attend that class: all of these are examples of how we get cocky.

 One specific area in which we get cocky is the area of security, namely cybersecurity. You get your new computer, set up Windows, download all your programs and vice versa, but most of us neglect the security portion of setting things up.

Microsoft is kind enough to enable Windows Defender out-of-the-box, but Windows Defender can only defend you from software like viruses and malware, but even then, it’s ability is limited to what it knows; new types of malware and viruses can easily bypass Defender.

 There’s also one technological danger that no anti-virus software can stop, and that’s phishing.

Identifying Phishing

Have you ever received a call from “Microsoft” claiming that your PC is infected and that they’re part of Microsoft’s security team? Isn’t it weird how they end up needing your personal information, like your bank information?

 Congratulations! You were a would-be victim of a phishing attack. Phishing, like the example above presents, is when a scammer assumes the identity of an authoritative or knowledgeable figure.

Ever since the world was gifted with email, many have tried to send emails claiming to be Bill Gates or some other powerful, rich figure, who desperately needs you to hold onto some cash. What’s wrong? All he needs is your card info!

If you have a phone or an email, you’ve probably experienced phishing firsthand, and yes, those robocalls you get 10 times a day count.

However, who would fall for them? Most of the time, a phishing attack is so obvious and simple. But you’d be surprised.

Defending Yourself from a Phishing Attack

Your first thought may be that older Internet users (ages 55+) are the ones falling for phishing scams, but you’d be wrong. According to Kaspersky, young adults from 18-25 years of age fall for these scams the most, probably due to phishing on social media.

Even people who grew up with the Internet and it’s scams are vulnerable to phishing, so it pays to be careful. That said, how can you keep yourself secure from phishing?

Let’s start off with the obvious: stay suspicious of everything on the Internet.

Your parents told you to not believe everything you see on the Internet, and they were right! Don’t click on that email congratulating you for winning a $500 gift card to *insert favorite store*. If you get a phone call about your insurance, hang up. If it’s important, you’ll get a letter or multiple phone calls.

Secondly, using a password manager can reduce the risk of you falling for a fake website. For example, let’s say you do end up clicking a link on an email and it takes you to “Gmail”.

Judging from my use of quotations, you know I don’t mean the real Gmail, but the you in the example doesn’t. You enter your information in the fake Gmail site and guess what? Your password has become useless.

But password managers can autofill login credentials for you, so if you go to Gmail and it doesn’t, then you may want to take a second look at the website you’re one. Yes, it’s a situational fix, but it works.

Conclusion

Really, all that can be said about phishing is that the only way you can prevent falling for it is by being careful. It’s simple, but so is phishing. A simple problem requires a simple solution.

Remember, don’t get cocky and click on everything you see, lest you end up with 500 viruses on your computer and your passwords turning as useless as the privacy policy on Facebook.

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