As internet usage continues to grow exponentially across the globe, so does the occurrence of cyber-attacks. Phishing attacks in particular have become one of the greatest threats to cybersecurity in the Digital Age, and these attacks have grown substantially more complex and sophisticated over time. A recent study by The Radicati Group, Inc. shows that there were nearly 4 billion email users during 2018, and that number is currently on an upward trend. This leaves a huge area of opportunity for cyber-criminals. Knowledge is the best defense we have against such attacks, and it is important that we are well-equipped to identify these phishing emails before we fall prey to their scheme. Here are some tips to identify and protect yourself from these phishing attempts.

Look closely at the display name

Scammers are getting more strategic about how they encourage users to click open their emails. They often use commonly-recognized and trusted brand names to make the email appear to be legitimate. If the Display name looks familiar, hover over to see what email address it is coming from. If you are still not sure, compare that email address to the email address in a previous email you may have received from the brand.

Scammers are getting trickier with their display names and email addresses. They will often apply one minor change to the company’s name or email that they assume you will overlook. This includes changing .com to .co or making small changes in the spelling.

You could also take it a step further and do a quick Google search to see what comes up for the email address or domain.

DO NOT click any links

If an email looks suspicious, whatever you do, DO NOT click any of the links. You can hover over the link in the body of the email and you can do a quick Google search for that link address in a separate window if you are curious. Do not follow any links in a suspicious email. Many phishing attacks happen as a result of malware installed after following a link. You can avoid this unfortunate result by simply not clicking any of the links.

Never give personal information over email

A legitimate company will never ask you to send over your personal details via email. Attackers, however, may also ask you to click a link to enter your information. If the email is asking you to follow a link to submit personal details, call the company first to verify.

Only open attachments you were planning to receive

Never open any email attachments that you were not planning to receive. Opening a malicious attachment can install malware on your computer and can turn into a huge mess. The best way to avoid this is by not opening attachments until you confirm the email is legitimate.

The complexity of phishing scams today can be very unnerving. However, if you follow these basic guidelines, you can avoid falling prey to a phishing attack. If you ever receive a suspicious email appearing to come from Smart Link Solutions, please do not hesitate to call us at (248) 684-0500 to confirm.