Phishing is something that every internet user wants to avoid at all costs. It can be difficult to distinguish at times, but it is important to understand how to protect yourself against these occurrences. Phishing is done by scammers who gain your personal information through the use of fraudulent emails or texts, or copycat websites. They may access information like Social Security numbers, or logins and passwords to websites that contain other important information. Typically, the goal of the scammers are to use your information to steal your money or your identity or both.

Scammers may also use ransomware to take control of your network, which they can then access important files from. This might initially start by using a phishing email. Often times, the scammer will pretend to be a friend or family member, or they may reach you by using a trusted logo to make you believe you have been contacted by a legitimate company. The links that are sent contain malware, which weakens computer security, and creates vulnerability.

Phishing leads you to believe that you must urgently provide your information in order to avoid something bad happening. You are essentially blackmailed into giving your information. Examples may be: they will put a freeze on your account, you will be unable to get a tax refund, you will upset your boss, or they threaten that a family member could be arrested or harmed. These lies should be considered at all times, to ensure you do not fall victim to phishing.

If a company or organization reaches out by sending a link or phone number, don’t click it. Instead, open up a search engine and look up the company or link yourself. It is not difficult to be be fooled by scammers. They have managed to figure out many different ways to gain information.

If you are unsure about whether or not you have received a phishing email, simply do not reply. Specifically, do not reply to emails that have requested personal information. Phishers use pressure tactics to accomplish what they have sought after. If you are worried that someone you know is really reaching out for information that they may need, it is best to contact them by calling them.

Two-factor authentication should also be turned on to ensure extra security. This will require you to not only type in your password, but additional information must be entered in as well. You may also want to choose more than one type of second authentication, such as a PIN, as extra precaution. To ensure that your information will not be wiped out, it is always safe to backup your files to an external hard drive. Doing this on a normal basis will help keep you safe against viruses.

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