Phishing – It looks like a child’s attempt to spell an innocent word, but the meaning is anything but child’s play. Phishing is an attempt to get Internet users to reveal their most personal secrets: Social Security numbers or bank account logins and passwords.
Phishing takes many forms: An email asking for your money may purport to be from the IRS, your bank, or a relief organization. Like skilled fishermen, cybercriminals try to reel you in by getting you to believe their stories.
A phishing attack may come as an email with an urgent message and a link to a specific site.
“Once you click on the link, you are transported to a page that looks exactly like your bank’s site,” says BendBroadband’s Information Security Officer, Matt Shaffer. “If you type in your login and password, in what looks like a legitimate site, they got you. The software captures the information and your money is now theirs.”
Shaffer points out that phishing attacks have become more sophisticated. “Criminals nowadays go after specific individuals or particular demographics,” he says. Cyber con men pull information from your Facebook page and then email offers or threats built around your life.
Criminals could target grandparents with phony emails such as: “I’m Joan, your granddaughter. I’m stuck in Las Vegas without any money. Please wire $500 so that I can get back home. Don’t tell my parents!”
BendBroadband employs email filtration software that removes potentially harmful phishing attacks. “Our customers can relate to anti-virus software,” says Shaffer. “It looks at incoming files and tells the user if it is bad for their computer.”
BendBroadband’s anti-spam filter works the same way. “We block 97 percent of our email traffic,” says Shaffer. “Put in other words: Out of 100 incoming emails, 97 are trash.”
Most phishing attacks are easily preventable. “It really comes down to this: Keep your secrets to yourself,” says Shaffer. “There is no reason for any company or organization that you do business with to ask for your login and password.”