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Phishing and How to Guard Against It

Phishing defined

Phishing is a method impostors use to get personal information from unsuspecting people on the internet. Some of the ways they use are by sending deceptive emails and websites, which have a message packaged to make you give out your personal details or send money. People who are phishing are always looking out for passwords and credit card details.

There are many ways in which phishing is done. The most common method they use is by sending emails or text messages that imitate a government institution, a bank or someone you trust. The messages are packaged to instill fear, by having a threatening call for action, failure to comply with leaving the victim to face some form of consequence.

If the unfortunate victim falls for the scam, they are directed to a website, where they are expected to log in and give their personal details. The attacker then takes the login details and can use it to steal identities, get into the victim’s bank account, and even reach out to other people related to the victim to steal from them.

How to Guard Against Phishing

  • Use spam filters in your email to remove impostors who may be phishing for information. A spam filter has software which checks the origin of a message, the content and other signs that it could be compromised. There will be cases where the spam filters will capture a legitimate message, so you need to check it often, but ensure you do not open any message whose origin you do not know.
  • Enable your browser setting to prevent fraudulent sites from opening. Your browser should always warn you when a suspicious site is trying to open.
  • Change passwords regularly. One of the ways in which fraudsters steal identities is by getting hold of a users login details. Make sure your password is complex, and do not use it on multiple accounts.
  • Confirm with institutions before giving your personal information. If you do receive any emails or phone calls from someone purporting to be representing an institution such as your bank, do not rush to give your personal information. Always call the institution using their official number to confirm if the message is real.
  • Report any phishing activity you encounter. One of the best ways to stop online phishing is to report them as soon as you encounter them.
  • If you get a link or attachment on an email, hover around it using your mouse to see if the linked site has ‘https’ secure details.