Phishing scams have been around for a long time. Phishing emails work often enough that there is no reason for scammers to stop. Indeed, there was a real increase in COVID-19-related phishing scams at the beginning of 2020. These scams will continue, as users are still looking for COVID-19 vaccine information. So, what can you do to avoid being duped by phishing emails?
- Think twice before clicking. A healthy dose of skepticism is key to avoiding being tricked by a phishing email. Think about what is being asked of you and why. Does it seem like a legitimate request? Any email that tugs at your emotions in some way to take an urgent action should be met with skepticism. That second thought can help you avoid clicking on a malicious link and inadvertently downloading malware.
- Consider the source. This goes hand-in-hand with thinking twice. You should always note the sender of the email, and ask yourself “is this real?” Phishers are good at making their messages look and sound like they come from a legitimate entity. Some examples include phisher trying to look like your boss asking for a wire transfer or they could be pretending to be a new national Covid-19 testing service. In either case, always ensure you know the source. If you are still unsure if the message is legit after checking the headers, contact the person/company by telephone and ask if they sent you a message.
- Secure your accounts. Some ways to better secure your accounts include using a strong, unique password for each account, as well as enabling multifactor authentication. If all of your passwords are unique and a phisher does manage to steal one of them, they can only get access to that one account. Multifactor authentication makes access to your email account that much harder to gain, as now they also need a token of some sort. If you can do multifactor authentication with biometrics, that is even more secure.
Ensuring you keep in mind these 3 tips will help keep you from becoming a phishing email victim. There are also many cyber awareness programs you can enroll in online to help teach to be mindful of what you read in your email. The best advice really is to be skeptical of everything you read in email.