In today’s digital world, figuring out the best way to secure information and digital assets is on everybody’s mind. Many people believe the most effective way to protect their information is to invest in expensive hardware or software. But what if I told you one of the greatest defenses you can develop is a strong nose for phishing? Phishing, which is a type of cyber attack that attempts to gain access to a user’s passwords through a fake message, is one of the most dangerous threats on the web to date. These attacks usually mask themselves as an email or message from a coworker asking you to click on a link to verify your credentials.
Oftentimes, victims of phishing will enter their passwords without a second thought – which is exactly what the perpetrators of such attacks want. Once an attacker has your passwords, they have access to your digital life.
So, how can you keep from being a victim of phishing? With ensuring your cybersecurity in mind, let’s take a look at the 5 most effective ways to combat phishing attacks.
#1: Stay Diligent and Stay Informed
One of the easiest ways to prevent a phishing attack is to stay up-to-date on both your company’s current threat status and what a modern-day phishing attack looks like. Oftentimes, when a business or organization falls victim to a widespread phishing attack, they will send out an email warning all group members. As easy as it can be to brush these messages aside, paying attention to them is a commonsense way to avoid becoming a victim of phishing yourself.
Additionally, if large-scale phishing attacks do occur, they usually catch some form of media attention. Following popular security blogs, of which there are numerous, can be an easy way to watch out for potential threats.
#2: Keep Your Browser Updated
As new types of phishing attacks become known, software companies develop defenses called “patches” that help to fill holes in their programs. Updating your browser regularly is a simple preventable measure that can make a world of difference in preventing attacks.
#3: Invest in a 2-Factor Authentication Key
It was recently reported that Google hasn’t suffered from a phishing attack in years. How did a company as large and complex as this achieve such a feat? The answer is simple: Google requires that all of their employees utilize physical two-factor authentication keys, which make a successful phishing attack near impossible.
While the idea of a physical security key may sound off-putting think of it in this manner: Even if an attacker where to get your password, they would also need to steal your physical authentication key, oftentimes kept on keychains by their users. The odds of an attacker having both your passwords and your authentication key are extremely slim, which means that this technique makes you as close to phishing-proof as possible.
#4 Make Sure Your Antivirus Software is Up-to-Date
As is the case with web browsers, antivirus developers create patches for their programs on a regular basis. Ensuring that all antivirus and antimalware applications on your device is a effective step towards lowering your risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. While rare, some phishing attacks are capable of installing harmful malware on your device, presenting all the more reason to stay up-to-date with the most recent software patches available.
No matter what, never give your password to anyone over an email or messaging platform. If you get an email from your company’s “HR Department” asking for your username and password via a link, chances are it’s a case of phishing. Nine times out of ten, if someone is asking for your password online, they’re trying to take control of your accounts. If you believe that someone is asking for your password for legitimate reasons, do your best to confirm such requests with a 3rd party (or better yet, in-perso) before sharing such information.
While these tips appear simple, they can go a long way towards ensuring your personal security online. Phishing is one of the biggest forms of cyber attack today – but in almost every case, it’s entirely preventable. As you work to develop your knowledge of cybersecurity, keep this tips in mind, as they will help you avoid becoming a victim of one of the most preventable cyber threats today.