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What Are Phishing Attacks and How Do They Affect My Privacy?

 

Did you know that 97% of internet users can’t recognize a sophisticated phishing email?

Phishing attacks are on the rise, and though it’s easy to grow jaded with news of the latest types of scams, it’s more important than ever to be able to recognize them. After all, with your sensitive information at stake, you have a lot to lose—and a lot to accidentally hand to the wrong online stranger.

If you’re not sure what phishing means, or how to recognize this type of scam, read on to stay informed.

What Is a Phishing Attack?

Before we dive into the details, let’s take a look at the phishing definition.

Phishing is a type of cyberattack that prompts a victim to share sensitive information, click a link, or download a file. This prompt may come via email, SMS, or social media.

When phishing scams ask for personal information, it’s usually a request for passwords or account numbers. When these attacks prompt users to click a link or download a file, the result is often an installation of malicious viruses onto the user’s device.

This type of attack works through social engineering, meaning the use of psychological manipulation to get someone to make a security mistake. As for the meaning of “phishing,” the name comes from the idea of scammers “fishing” for information, with the “ph” spelling as a reference to “phone phreaking.”

How Does Phishing Affect My Privacy?

If you fall prey to a phishing attack, you may find your privacy compromised in a number of ways.

First, you could end up giving sensitive information to a complete stranger online. While some phishing attacks may be designed to look like messages from a bank, your HR department, or your best friend, the actual recipient may be someone without your best interests in mind.

Next, you might fall prey to malicious malware or ransomware that affects your device. This is why it’s important to follow basic phone and laptop security tips.

In addition, some phishing scams may even request money transfers from people swearing to be charitable organizations or long-lost relatives.

At the end of the day, each phishing attack can look different and affect you in a different way—so recognizing these scams is critical.

How Can I Avoid Phishing Attacks?

The Federal Trade Commission has a list of useful resources to help users recognize and prevent online phishing scams. Taking some time to recognize common tactics can make you more likely to recognize them in the future.

In addition, it’s a good idea to install security software on your phone, laptop, tablet, and any other devices you use. Protecting your accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication can also help prevent certain types of phishing.

Don’t Take the Bait

The best thing you can do to protect yourself online is to treat messages and links with a healthy dose of suspicion. Be careful not to let your guard down, and avoid giving anyone your blind trust. In the sophisticated digital world, staying educated about phishing attacks can help you keep up with the trends and stay safe!

Want more of the crucial tech tips you need to know? Check out our other posts for additional advice.

 

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