How to Recognize Email Scams

As our use of the internet in day-to-day life rises, so do opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit us. Online scams have been on the rise for a long time, and now that so much business is conducted online, including financial services, it’s only likely to get worse. 

In 2019, the number of phishing scams reported grew by 65%, and it’s thought that in 2020 google has blocked 18 million scam emails relating to coronavirus every day. Unfortunately, criminals are fast to spot weaknesses and use them to their advantage. What exactly is phishing, who is at risk, and what can we do to protect our businesses from it? 

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a kind of online scam that uses emails or malicious websites to place harmful malware or viruses on your computer, typically collecting personal information and financial details. 

Cybercriminals will often use an email address or link similar to a business that you know, an authority you respect, or a person you trust to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. Once you’ve clicked this link, your device will be infected, and you will be left vulnerable. In some cases, these emails will ask for your personal information or login details. 

How Common Is It?

Phishing is exceptionally common. A phishing scam targeted over 64% of businesses in 2018, and 22% of organizations view phishing as the greatest security threat they face. 

Who Is at Risk from Phishing Scams?

We’re all at risk from phishing scams, as businesses, but also as individuals. Scammers may target big companies because they’ve got more to gain from them. But, small companies and individuals often have less security in place and can be easier targets. 

What Can Hackers Gain from Phishing?

By gaining personal information, login details, or financial information, there’s very little a hacker can’t gain by phishing. Once they’ve got these details, they can infiltrate your business, take customers’ data, steal money, and change information. 

How To Spot A Phishing Email

There are often simple ways to spot phishing emails if you know what to look for. Firstly, check the email address carefully. There may be a few digits slightly different or a small spelling mistake. The same goes for any hyperlinks or the content of the emails. Read closely and look for tiny errors. 

An authentic email would never ask for login or bank details like phishers do. If you have any doubts, contact the company the email claims to be, but never reply to the email directly. 

What Can You Do to Avoid Them? 

The best way to avoid phishing scams and other cybercrime is by using a managed service provider for your IT needs. Using managed services for your IT means that you have an experienced team to set up the right security so that you avoid scams and other risks. They also typically offer 24/7 monitoring and support, allowing fast reactions to any vulnerabilities. 

A simple way to protect yourself from phishing scams is to increase password protection. Never use the same passwords or weak passwords, and always use multi-factor authentication for logins if possible. 

You should also keep your anti-virus software up to date, and perhaps the best tip is to use your common sense. Read emails carefully, never give away any information if you are uncomfortable, and trust your instincts. 

Often, the best way to avoid scams is to simply be aware. Keep up to date with the latest scams, and keep your eyes open.

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