Could You Be Hooked by an Email Phishing Scam?

A whopping 31% of Internet traffic is made up of hacking programs and malicious phishing. In March 2020, Google reported that it had found 522,495 active phishing websites. This was a 350% increase from just two months earlier.

The parasitic virus

Approximately 6,000 new viruses are released every month.

A computer virus is a type of computer program that replicates itself within host software. The virus’s own code will modify the code of its host and will spread to all other software that it comes into contact with.

Named after the biological virus (a phenomenon sometimes referred to as an organism at the edge of life), which is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host, the computer virus has a destructive effect upon its host. Just as the biological variety of this miniature monster will have a destructive effect on a host organism, so will the computer virus corrupt host programs. Both kinds of virus are very easily transferred from host to host.

One of the cybercriminal’s most common methods of infecting computer systems is to hide a malicious virus inside an email attachment. Open the attachment, and the virus is let loose on your software.

Before you open an attachment, be sure that it’s safe. If you’re not sure, either delete the email or carry out some checks. Contact the purported sender. If they didn’t send you the email, delete it; if they did send it, ask about the attachment.

The psychological killer

The most successful criminals are astute psychologists. Some crimes demand more understanding of the human mind than others. Phishing is a crime that is very much steered by psychology.

The most successful phishing attacks are those that play on a victim’s respect for authority. Add the anxiety of urgency and a fear of adverse consequences, and you’ve got a manipulative cocktail of bait. For example:

In an email that appears to come from your boss, you receive a request for confidential data. It’s urgent. You must send it now. Whatever’s wrong seems to be your fault.

Do you obey? In cybercrime research programmes, volunteers have demonstrated a strong sense of obedience. It was noted that some subjects, under instruction from a figure of authority, were willing to administer a lethal electric shock to another person!

Spot the Difference

A spoof email, however well designed, will have a tell-tale sign, somewhere, that it’s fake.

Top Tips:

  • Hover over any links and study the URL. The hyperlink may not be the one it claims to be.
  • Don’t click on links. If there’s an action you want to carry out, type the URL into a new window.
  • Don’t open attachments until you’re absolutely certain that they’re safe.
  • Look carefully at the sender’s email address. Compare it to the bone fide address of the sender they’re claiming to be.
  • If you’re uncertain about the email’s origin, contact the person or organisation it claims to be from.
  • Look carefully at logos and colour schemes.
  • Look out for poor spelling and grammar.

Contact Us

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