There are many Common Phishing Scams to Watch for in Colorado
Many companies in Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver already have an established cyber-security strategy in place. However, not all are as robust as they could be. Cybercriminals know some businesses can’t keep up with their attacks — and they’re taking advantage of it.
Phishing attacks are especially dangerous because they prey on human nature. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you include other key people in your cybersecurity safety net — your employees. Because phishing attacks can cost your company a lot of money and valuable information, it’s now more important than ever for employees to be educated with phishing awareness training to spot a phish.
What is phishing?
Phishing happens when scammers impersonate a trusted company or person to gain access to sensitive information. The goal is to steal your passwords, account numbers, identity documents (IDs), and/or financial data. Phishing scams are typically delivered via email or text message, but scammers also use phone calls and websites to trick you. The cybercriminals behind phishing campaigns carefully craft messages to appear as if they come from legitimate sources, such as an email from a coworker or a pop-up from your computer’s operating system.
When users click on a link or download an attachment in these emails, it downloads malware onto their computers (or worse). This gives the attackers access to everything on your computer or network — including potentially sensitive financial information or trade secrets. The best way to protect yourself and your business from phishing is to be informed about it.
These five proactive strategies will not only help you educate your employees, but they will also prevent them from being susceptible to a phishing attack in the first place:
1. Look for misspellings and poor grammar in emails
When you receive an email from a person or company you don’t know, it’s important to question the validity of that email. Even if the emails look like they are coming from people or companies you know, it’s still worth questioning whether these emails are legitimate. One way to check if an email is legitimate is to see if the message contains spelling and grammar errors. While some people may be quick to judge someone based on their spelling or grammar, hackers who send phishing emails typically aren’t too concerned with this aspect of their messages.
This can mean that spelling errors and poor grammar can be a telltale sign that the email was sent by a hacker looking to gain access to your information and accounts. If your work account receives an email from another business but that email contains multiple spelling errors and poor grammar, it might not be an authentic message from that business. Likewise, if an unfamiliar sender sends you an email with multiple misspellings and improper use of commas, periods, or other punctuation marks, there’s a good chance they’re trying to trick you with a phishing scam.
2. Don’t reply to emails asking for your account numbers, passwords, or PINs
If someone asks for your email address, password, or personal identification number (PIN) number over email, you can — and should — categorically ignore the request. If an email says that your account has been hacked and you must click on a link to reset your password, ignore it. If a Nigerian prince asks for your bank account number so they can give you millions of dollars, just know that this is a scam and they’ll instead take all the money in your account. The only time you should provide those numbers is if you initiate the request yourself through an official company platform or website. Even then, be cautious!
3. Don’t click on a link embedded in an email unless you know who it’s from and that it’s safe
One of the most common phishing tactics is to include a link in an email, which then takes you to a malicious website that asks for personal information. Some attackers even go so far as to make the link text something benign, like “document” or “photo.” Don’t trust them! If in doubt about the sender’s identity, it’s best to call the sender directly using their actual contact information (the number from their business card or your company website listing) than risk clicking on a link that could compromise your computer and allow hackers access to sensitive data.
4. Don’t download a file unless you know who it’s from and that it’s safe
You should never download an attachment from someone that you don’t know, or from a source that you’re suspicious about. The same applies to unsolicited emails from individuals or companies that you know but rarely receive emails from. When in doubt, confirm by calling the sender and confirming their identity and the legitimacy of the email.
Attachment files can be used to spread harmful viruses and malware to your computer, which hackers can use to infiltrate your personal data on your computer, your employer’s network (if you’re using a company device), or even access banking information if it is saved on your computer.
5. Be suspicious of messages that contain threats, request urgent action, or create fear
One of the most common types of phishing emails is the threatening message. These messages are designed to generate fear in the email reader so that they will take immediate action and click on a link or open an attachment. A cybercriminal might pose as a bank or other financial institution and threaten to close your account if you don’t quickly visit their site by clicking on a link provided. This threat generates fear, which encourages the recipient to click on the link.
Bottom Line on Phishing Scams
It’s important to understand that phishing is a real threat — it’s not just about getting your money or supporting hackers and thieves. It can also result in the loss of proprietary information or sensitive data, like customer lists and credit card numbers. Some phishing attacks are designed to install malware on your computer or network, which could lead to identity theft and fraud in the future.
If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.
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