Skip to main content

How to Boost Your Phishing Detection Skills and Avoid Email Scams



Phishing scams—the ones that try to get you to provide private information by masquerading as a legitimate company—can be easy to uncover with a skeptical eye, but some can easily get you when you let your guard down for just a second. Here's how you can boost your phishing detection skills and protect yourself during those times when you're not at full attention.

Want to test your phishing IQ and find out what kind of scams you're most likely to miss? Take this test.

Blast from the past is a weekly feature at Lifehacker in which we revive old, but still relevant, posts for your reading and hacking pleasure. This week, with yet another group of scams making the rounds, we thought it was time to brush up on our phishing detection skills.

What You Can Do

The way most phishing scams find victims is through email, but sometimes you'll come across a phishing site in the wild as well. Either way, here are the basic principles you want to follow to keep a cautious eye out for these malicious traps.

Check the URL

Phishing scams are designed to look like official emails and web sites from actual companies, but they aren't actually those things—they're just imitations. Because the emails and web sites are imitations they'll probably look a little different from what you'd expect in general, but more importantly those sites can't have the same URL as the web site they're pretending to because they are different sites. To check the URL, just hover of the link you're thinking of clicking. At the bottom of your window you should see the URL displayed. Once you do that, you have to figure out if it is a good URL or a bad URL.
Using PayPal as an example, you'll generally see http://www.paypal.com as part of the URL. Sometimes you'll see something likehttp://subdomain.paypal.com as well. Both of these URLs are okay, because they end in paypal.com. A phishing URL, however, might look something like this: http://paypal.someotherdomain.com. In this case, "paypal" is attached to another domain name (someotherdomain.com). URLs like this are the ones you want to avoid.

Type the Address Yourself

The best thing you can do to avoid phishing scams is always go directly to the web site you want to visit rather than clicking a link. This way you don't have to figure out if the URL is safe or not because you'll be using a URL in your bookmarks (or your brain) that you already knowis safe. Doing this can also help protect you from phishing scams when you let your guard down because you'll be in the habit of visiting sites directly rather than clicking links.
I fell for a phishing scam once when I read the email right after I woke up in the morning. It was from my bank and they'd sent me a lot of verification notices lately since I'd been traveling and using my debit card all over the place. When I got another one, I didn't even think about it because I'd just woken up. I went to the site, filled in my info, and then immediately realized I'd just provided that information to a phishing scam site. I called the bank to let them know right away and got a new card, but had I changed my default behavior to calling the bank of visiting the bank's web site this probably wouldn't have happened. Of course, that's what I do now and it hasn't been a problem since.

What Your Browser Can Do For You

Detecting phishing scams on your own mainly require the mild paranoia and the behavioral adjustment described above, but there are a few other things you can do to make your everyday browsing safer.

Turn Off Form Autofill

One great feature of many web browsers is the autofill feature. It makes it really easy to fill out forms using information already stored in the browser. It also makes it easy for you to ignore the form you're filling out and just submit it, causing you to potentially miss a phishing scam when you're rushing through the process. While this precaution isn't necessary, and you might prefer the convenience of autofill to the safety benefits that deactivating it can provide, turning it off will provide a little added protection.

Utilize Your Browser's Built-In Tools

Most browsers come with some phishing protection built-in to help protect you, but it isn't always enable by default. Google Chrome keeps track of common phishing sites and can alert you when you visit one, but you may need to go through the short setup process to make it work. Firefox also offers phishing and malware protection in a similar way, and you can enable it in the Security section of Firefox's preferences.

Bump Up Your Phishing Protection with Web of Trust

Web of Trust is one of our favorite browser extensions because it automatically lets you know if a web site is trustworthy or not. While it can't possible verify every single site on the internet, it can make you aware of potentially harmful sites and phishing scams. All you have to do is install the extension for your browser and it will display a trust rating in your browser's toolbar. (You can read more about this here.) Web of Trust is available to download for Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and as a bookmarklet for other browsers.


Comments

You may also want to read these ⤵️

Referee kills player in a football match

A referee is facing murder charges after football players allegedly forced him to

Do not watch this while driving

Kids are lovely and fun to watch most times. I know most of you did this and so many other funny stuffs as a kid. Feel free to share yours... Do not watch this while driving

Over 40 Million Accounts Found Guilty

Microsoft has uncovered 44 million user accounts using usernames and passwords that have been leaked through security breaches.

RAW TALENT ep1 (freestyle by Gdlpeid)

Just watch! Freestyle by ''Gdlpeeid''. A rapper with a difference.  Pure raw talent.

By February 2020 - WhatsApp Will Stop Working on These Phones

Every now and then, WhatsApp does fish out a list of old phones for which support is discontinued and if you have an old phone lying around as a backup, you might want to read on.

These 10 Powerful Words And Phrases Defined The Decade

Honestly, it has been a wonderful decade to remember.  A lot has happened and a lot has been spoken also. But our focus is on the words and phrases spoken.  Below are words and phrases spoken between 2010 - 2019 that defined the decade.....

Apple Has Released iOS 13.2.2 And Fixes Major Issue

All thanks to Apple,  the tech  giant just released iOS 13.2.2, which addresses the issue of background apps being killed prematurely, along with a handful of other annoyances.

This Magnetic thread Can Be Used To Clear Blood Clot in The Brain

Link from mashable.com  Researchers at MIT developed a thread that can be steered magnetically to glide through the brain's blood vessels and

This gigantic monster device turns wave energy into electricity

This 826-ton buoy was developed by OceanEnergy to turn wave energy into electricity. IEEE Spectrum reported that "OE Buoy" was towed from Oregon to Hawaii, where it will undergo a series of tests that will prove whether it can withstand the battering waves while generating electricity. Click the link below to watch the video..

Lionel Messi Barcelona exit date revealed

The Barcelona Legend has decided on when he wants to quit the club and even has a successor in his mind already.