Phishing has become more and more prevalent in this digital age with many cyber criminals claiming that it’s the easiest form of hacking.
What is phishing you may ask? Phishing is a cyber-crime through which criminals “fish” by creating fake and fraudulent methods for the retrieval of your personal information. This information can range from personal passwords to physical addresses and even your “secure” banking details.
South Africa is no stranger to the phishing industry with FNB being a major target. Many people have reported receiving emails asking them to click on a link and verify their banking information only to have their accounts robbed of thousands or even emptied a few hours later.
It goes without saying that the prospect of phishing can be terrifying, but there are ways to avoid becoming a victim and protecting yourself against this cyber-crime.
1. Do not act on suspicious requests
When you receive an SMS or email from an organisation asking you to verify passwords or enter personal credentials, first enquire if the institution has indeed prompted a response on your part. This may even occur telephonically where criminals pose as your bank to “verify your banking details”. Know that your bank will never ask you to divulge personal identification numbers telephonically.
2. Be wary of the Email/SMS language
With many phishing scams, the criminals tend to overuse the English language by unnecessarily using large words and phrases in upper caps. The use of a fake deadline is also utilised as a way of creating urgency and forcing you to take action. Pay attention and learn to spot these kinds of indicators.
3. Avoid all SMS and email links or attachments
This is the perfect way to redirect you to fake sites designed for phishing. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders. One should even exercise caution when the sender is known as many criminals accurately mimic the identity of organisations.
4. Stay clear of pop ups
Do not enter information or click on any pop up’s in email’s.
5. Always browse securely
In the address bar of your web browser, ALWAYS check that the web address begins with “https://” (the “s” means it’s secure) as opposed to “http://”. When a site is secure, a “lock” icon will appear in the address browser to indicate that the website has been verified as secure.
6. Check the email address
One way of quickly determining the authenticity of a message phishing for your private information is to check the email address from where the message originates. This is often a dead give-away exposing the malicious intent of the message.
By following these tips and increasing your awareness, you can avoid being yet another victim of this rampant scam. The bottom Line is: do not expose any personal information either via SMS and Email or over the telephone.
If you wish to report a scam or cyber-crime, visit cybercrime.org.za or contact the SAPS Crime Stop Tip-Off-Line – 0860010111