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Protecting Yourself from Phishing Emails

Published November 21, 2023

By Brad Wallick | Senior Vice President of Information Technology | Administration

In today’s digital world, phishing has become a prevalent and ever-evolving threat to individuals and organizations alike. Phishing emails, disguised as legitimate correspondence, are designed to deceive recipients into revealing sensitive information or engaging in fraudulent activities.

Protecting yourself from these scams requires awareness and knowledge of the telltale signs that can help you identify and avoid falling victim to such fraudulent schemes. Let’s explore the essential indicators to look for in phishing emails, empowering you to protect your personal and financial information from cybercriminals.

Sender’s Email Address:

The first step in identifying a phishing email is to scrutinize the sender’s email address. Cybercriminals often impersonate well-known organizations but often use illegitimate email addresses. Pay close attention to slight variations or misspellings in the domain name, as fraudsters often use these tricks to deceive unsuspecting victims.

Poor Grammar and Spelling:

Phishing emails often contain grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, and spelling mistakes. Legitimate organizations maintain professional standards, so an email riddled with such errors should raise suspicion. Be wary of generic greetings or messages that lack personalization, as they could indicate a mass phishing campaign.

Urgency and Fear Tactics:

Phishing emails often utilize urgency and fear tactics to manipulate recipients into taking immediate action. They may threaten consequences if you don’t respond promptly, claiming that your account will be closed or that you will face legal issues. Legitimate organizations typically communicate important matters through secure channels, so beware of emails pressuring you to act hastily without verifying their legitimacy.

Phishing emails are the #1 delivery method of ransomware. When you receive an unexpected email, always take the extra time to scrutinize the sender and contents before clicking on any links.

Brad Wallick

Suspicious Attachments or Links:

Phishing emails often include attachments or links that are intended to infect your device with malware or direct you to a fake website designed to steal your credentials. Exercise caution when encountering such elements. Hover your cursor over hyperlinks to reveal the actual destination URL. If the link seems suspicious or doesn’t match the purported sender, refrain from clicking on it. Similarly, avoid opening email attachments from unknown or untrustworthy sources.

Requests for Sensitive Information:

Be extremely cautious when an email requests personal or financial information, such as passwords, social security numbers, or credit card details. Legitimate organizations rarely ask for such sensitive data via email. If in doubt, contact the organization directly through their official website or customer support channels to verify the authenticity of the request.

Unusual Requests or Offers:

Phishing emails may present unusual requests or offers that seem too good to be true. Examples include unsolicited job offers, requests for financial assistance, or notifications of lottery winnings. Exercise skepticism and conduct thorough research before responding or sharing any information. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Non-Secure Communication:

Legitimate organizations take security seriously and use encryption methods to protect sensitive information. If an email asks you to provide confidential data through an unsecured channel or doesn’t display the familiar padlock icon in the browser address bar when accessing a website, it’s likely a phishing attempt. Always prioritize secure communication channels when sharing personal or financial information.

Staying vigilant and being able to identify phishing emails is crucial in safeguarding your personal and financial information from cybercriminals. By carefully examining the sender’s email address, scrutinizing grammar and spelling, avoiding urgency and fear tactics, verifying attachments and links, being cautious of requests for sensitive information, questioning unusual offers or requests, and prioritizing secure communication, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing scams. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and reach out to the organization directly through official channels to verify the authenticity of any suspicious communication.

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