Have you ever pressed send on an email and instantly knew you needed to have NOT sent that email? Sometimes, you can feel that way about having clicked on an email you’ve received.
If you’ve ever seen a link and wondered if you should click on it, the answer is simple—don’t do it. If you do, you are setting yourself up for a potentially disastrous situation called phishing. Phishing was the cause of such high profile hacks as Sony Pictures, Yahoo, and even the Democratic National Convention. So, here’s what you need to know about how to protect yourself from email phishing scams.
If you get an email with a hyperlink in it, do not click on the link. Once you click on that seemingly innocuous link, you could be allowing hackers access to your personal email, files, and accounts. One thing you can do is hover over the link and view the address it is actually taking you to. While examining the email, something that should set off alarm bells for you is if the email is not addressed to you personally, but simply contains a generic “Dear Customer” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
Check Who the Email is From
If you get one of these phishing scams, there are two possibilities for who they will be from. If it’s someone you don’t know, then you should definitely not click on the link. But phishing scams can come from your friends, neighbors and co-workers. If a hacker gets access to someone’s email account, they can send out these links to anyone in that person’s list of contacts. If you get a link from someone you know, send them a message and ask them if they meant to send it. If it’s not legitimately from them, they will know that they have to secure their accounts.
Update Your Computer
There are a lot of programs you can install to help protect you. Start with an Internet browser toolbar that will block you from going to phishing sites. If you also update your browser regularly, you can make sure that it has all of the recent patches that will protect you from hackers. Finally, get a virus software program that includes pop-up blockers and firewall protection.
Don’t Get Personal
If you receive an unsolicited email from someone, even someone you know, you should never give out personal information. Any of this can be used to hack into your accounts. No one from Google or Facebook is going to ask you to verify your password in an email, so there should never be a reason to give that information to anyone. Also, avoid Facebook “polls” that ask you what high school you went to or what street you grew up on. This is usually the security question people choose for their passwords, so you could be giving that info to a hacker who is monitoring your account.
The next time you open up your email, be sure to follow basic steps to protect yourself. Hackers are becoming more and more inventive and you could be opening up yourself, your company, and your clients to these criminals.