Why Phishing Attacks Are Still So Successful
Most Internet users nowadays are familiar with Phishing attacks—those scam emails and web pages masquerading as legitimate sites, trying to lure people into divulging their credentials so fraudsters can steal their identities.
Did you know the first recorded use of the word “Phishing” was observed as early as 1996? Despite all the time that’s passed, Phishing attacks are still going strong. Which begs the question: Why are they still so popular? After all, the more people know about a threat, the less effective it becomes, right?
Here are three reasons Phishing attacks are still popular today:
1. They still work.
It’s true; a lot of people who are avid Internet users, and by now, those users can typically detect a Phishing scam. But more people than ever are now getting online, and not all of them have as much experience or know-how when it comes to detecting even the most basic threats. Consider elderly individuals and citizens of developing countries, for example. There’s a strong push by entities such as governments and enterprises to connect the unconnected world. When non-technical people start using the Internet, they become excellent targets for scams like Phishing attacks. With this, the pool of potential victims doesn’t die, it merely changes.
Here’s an example of what a basic Phishing email looks like:
As time goes by, people become more familiar with Phishing attacks. Anti-Phishing services are employed by banks and other entities. Overall, a specific Phishing attack today may have a shorter lifespan, but the fact remains that hackers continue to have an audience of prime victims to target with this type of attack.
2. Phishing attacks are easy and cheap.
There are plenty of tools out there for fraudsters to choose from. For example, there is sophisticated and extremely powerful malware (such as Trojan horses) they can use to infect a victim’s machine or a merchant’s point-of-sale terminal. But these tools are relatively complex and require some know-how in order to operate properly.
Phishing attacks are an easy and cheap alternative for fraudsters who prefer a less complicated approach to stealing people’s online credentials.
3. Phishing attacks are flexible.
One of the greatest advantages of Phishing attacks compared to other tools used to obtain credentials is their flexibility. Need to change the code of a Phishing attack so it requests additional information such as a Social Security Number or mother’s maiden name? No problem! The code used for Phishing attacks is typically very simple. Anyone with the most basic programming and website design capabilities (which many fraudsters possess) can alter it.
Despite the general awareness that exists today about Phishing attacks, they can still be incredibly deceiving. And, to make matters worse for victims, the technology behind these types of attacks is simple. Even a person who has an eye trained for spotting a Phishing site or email can still be tricked into becoming a victim of a Phishing attack, since fraudsters are keeping track of the types of attacks that work and the ones that don’t. For these reasons, it’s smart to learn about Phishing attacks and the latest ones that are happening in order to increase your chances of being able to spot one before falling victim.
For some more interesting reading about Phishing attacks, check out the Top 10 Phishing Attacks of 2014.
If you would like to learn more about how to avoid Phishing attacks check out What Are Phishing Scams and How to Avoid Them
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Take Control of Your Online Security
Perhaps now more than ever, it’s crucial to take a hands-on approach regarding your privacy and the security of your personal data and online accounts (Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, etc.). Fortunately, you can use a number of freely available tools to help better protect your personal information. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get an antivirus solution for both your PC and phone. Check out these recommendations for the Best Free PC Antivirus Software and Top 5 Android Security Apps.
- Never reuse the same password across multiple online accounts, and always make sure you use strong passwords that include letters, numbers, and at least one symbol. To keep track of your passwords and keep them safe and secure, use a password manager like LastPass or PasswordBox.
- Use two-factor authentication on all of your accounts to enhance security.
- Get LogDog, a free anti-hacking app. It protects your personal data and valuable accounts (Gmail, Facebook, Yahoo and more) and alerts you to any suspicious activity so you can take control of your account before a hacker does.
The service can be used across all devices and OS’s, so you’re always being protected. Here’s the Android and iOS links for you to check out.