Word of the Week: Phishing

Every week we’ll highlight one security term you should know.

Word of the Week: Phishing (Note: Not this type of Phish)


What is Phishing? It is an attempt to steal personal and secure information such as credit card numbers, addresses, friend lists, passwords, usernames, and sometimes even money.

How does Phishing work? Usually 3 ways:

1) Bad actors send fairly credible emails – that could look like they come from someone you know, or from someone important (ex: bank) – asking you to download a file, change a password, update your information, respond to a fraud alert, etc

2) Bad actors put together web pages that look very much like the real website, and have almost the same design (ex: welllsfargo instead of wellsfargo), and get people to update secure information on a fraudulent site

3) Bad actors put together fraudulent ads, or fake links on Facebook or other social media, with the goal of driving traffic to a “bad” site by looking a lot like a “good” site

So what’s the big deal? Phishing attacks potentially put your financials, your passwords, and sometimes even your friends and family at risk.

How do you avoid Phishing? This isn’t a complete or 100% infallible list, but it’s a good start:

  1. Double check before downloading. Don’t blindly download anything from anyone you don’t know, and be careful downloading files that may come from friends.
  2. Be wary of email links. When in doubt, open a new window, visit the site directly, and see if the offer / file / security issue etc is real.
  3. Read the URL before visiting a website – especially if that website typically houses private and secure information. Bookmark legitimate sites and go there directly instead of clicking email or some links.
  4. Pick your social media contests judiciously. There are many legit contests out there, and there are even more illegitimate schemes. Check URLs, look for misspelled words, and above all, remember that if it’s too good to be true…
  5. Use services like the EFF’s Privacy Badger (more details soon) and OpenDNS to help avoid some of these security issues.

Stay safe out there! Need more info? Contact us.


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