Gone Phishing - How to avoid being caught hook, line & sinker

For those who are late to class "phishing" is the use of fraudulent (but plausible looking) emails and websites which try to persuade the gullible to hand over their bank or credit card details to criminals.� Here we briefly explain how to recognise the phishing attempts and you need to be doing to prevent them getting to you.

02 September 2013 Security  E-mail

Security - Article

Recognise this?

Dear HSBC Bank Customer!

For security purposes your account has been randomly chosen for verification. To verify your account information we are asking you to provide us with all the data we are requesting. Otherwise we will not be able to verify your identity and access to your account will be denied. Please click on the link below to get to the HSBC Bank plc secure page and verify your account details. After verification you will be redirected to the HSBC Bank home page. Thank you.

Phishing on the rise

The above is an example of "phishing" which for those who are late to class is the use of fraudulent (but plausible looking) emails and websites which try to persuade the gullible to hand over their bank or credit card details to criminals.

How to avoid getting caught hook, link & sinker

  • Be suspicious of any email that asks for your personal financial information no matter who it appears to be from.
  • Don't click on any links in emails. Instead, enter trusted addresses manually or telephone the organisation. Spoof emails and websites will look exactly like the real thing, so only use website addresses you know and trust.
  • Only give credit card information over secure website links (not by email) to trusted organisations. Look for sites that start with 'https' for the address and display a padlock at the bottom of the browser window such sites use encryption to ensure privacy.
  • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements and online accounts to make sure that there are no suspicious transactions

Besides these commonsense recommendations, having an effective spam filter will eliminate many spoof messages.

Apply the same level of scepticism to online promises of easy money, unexpected lottery wins and chain letters.

Extreme Phishing

Unfortunately, phishing isn't the only threat to your financial wellbeing. A new virus, called Korgo, emerged a few years ago which stole credit card numbers as they were typed into websites.

It's only able to attack machines that don't have effective firewalls and aren't up to date. Once installed, you need good antivirus software to find and root it out.

Three steps to heaven

  1. Install a virus checker and know how to keep it up to date.
  2. Install or activate a firewall to stop your machine being attacked.
  3. Keep your PC up to date with the latest bug fixes.

If you think your private information has been compromised contact the police and your bank immediately. And if you need advice on keeping your PC secure, please let us know.

Adapted from a Microsoft bCentral Security Bulletin.

Tags  email fraud phishing safety spam

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