Think Before You Click

In today’s age of technology, online shopping, and information sharing, it is even more important to be alert and cautious of what we are doing on the Internet. With the holiday season among us, phishing scams are becoming more of a threat to individuals and companies alike.

What is a phishing scam?

TechTarget describes phishing as a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels. The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments that can perform a variety of functions, including the extraction of login credentials or account information from victims.

Have you ever received an email from Amazon or your favorite store requesting your personal information? Did you question the validity of the email? This may have been a phishing scam.

Phishing scams unfortunately do a great job of imitating their targeted websites and emails, so it can be tricky to distinguish a genuine email from a phishing scam. Here are some tips to help identify a phishing scam:

  1. Hover over any included links to get a look at the URL. If the URL looks suspicious or isn’t part of the site’s normal URL, do not click
  2. All safe URLs begin with “https” and have a closed lock icon to the left of it. This means it is a secure link; if you don’t see this, do not click
  3. Phishing scams will not identify you by your name; often they are addressed “Dear Customer”

Now that you know how to identify a scam, here are some tips to keep your device and personal information safe from hackers:

  1. Never download files from a site you are not familiar with
  2. Be sure to update your anti-virus software consistently to prevent any possible viruses associated to these links
  3. It is okay to use links on sites you trust, but if you are suspicious about a link within an email, simply visit the original site directly
    instead of using a potentially harmful link
  4. If you receive a suspicious email, send it to your IT department for verification. Additionally, if you think you have sent information or downloaded a file from a suspicious email or site, let IT know immediately

It’s okay to shop online and explore the web– as long as you are aware of red flags and remain cautious about where you are sending your personal information. Remember these tips and stay safe on the web!

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