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How to Avoid Taking the Bait from Phishers
By: wubayou
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    Previously, we reported how a study from PandaLabs discovered growing trends in terms of the prevalence of phishing websites and messages online. In this article, we'll show you how to protect yourself so that you don't fall prey to phishing schemes.

    One particular statistic from PandaLabs' study showed that approximately 57,000 new phishing websites were popping up on the Internet each week. Meanwhile, a Symantec study reported that phishing messages increased in number by 92 percent in July, thanks to the release of toolkits that aid in the speedy construction of phishing sites. 

    With such statistics, the likelihood of you coming across a phisher's path is quite high. How can you protect yourself? To begin, you must first know how to identify a phishing scam.

    Most phishing scams come in the form of email messages. They usually pretend to be a well-known bank or some other type of institution where financial transactions tend to take place. The messages will usually discuss the possibility of your account being closed or suspended, or they might state that there was some unusual activity within the account. 

    A link will be included, and you might be asked to click on it so that you can verify your information. To do so, you must typically log in on the phony site using your username and password. You might also be asked to hand over card information such as the card's numbers, PIN number, date of expiration, and so forth. 

    Bank of America is one brand that has been targeted frequently, as there is a phishing attack that uses downloaded malware to add fields for your banking card information. Once you enter your information, it can then be used by the hackers to drain your accounts or make unauthorized charges.

    There is also another, similar attack that will not necessarily ask you for your personal information in a direct manner. Unlike the typical phishing scheme, this one may involve an email message from Western Union. The message will tell you that you have a wire transfer coming, and that you must download an email attachment for further information. Once you download the attachment, a Trojan virus gets installed on your computer. This tactic has been going on for a while, and affects Windows users.

    Identifying a phishing attack involves attention to detail. Check the web address and look for the “https” prefix that banks and other secure pages typically use.  Phishing sites will usually be missing this in their URLs. Check to see if your name is in the actual message, or if it appears to be a mass email to a random person. [Many banks and financial organizations, including PayPal, have stated that they will never ask for pins or passwords in email, so that alone is suspicious. -- Ed.).

    Analyze the spelling, punctuation, and grammar that is used in the message. Many phishing attacks originate from hackers in foreign countries, and you can typically see that messages from phishers are not professional.

    Avoid clicking suspicious links in your email messages, and make sure that your anti-virus software is updated. Last, but not least, do not divulge any sensitive information via email. If you feel like the message may be legitimate, go to the company's official website and contact them through their online support or by phone.

    For more, visit: http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20016026-245.html?tag=mncol;title

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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