The art of manipulating people in order to gain access to technology that would otherwise be out of reach is known as “social engineering.”
No matter how secure a system is, the human element can almost always be fooled. Therefore, humans are commonly the weakest link in the tech world. A legitimate user will always be able to log in, no matter how many security measures you put in place.
As far as human exploits go, phishing is among the most effective. In a similar way to the practice of fishing, phishing is a collection method from a target in order to gain access to a system. This can result in millions of dollars being lost, a company’s bankruptcy, or even the theft of an individual’s identity. Your results may vary if you succumb to a cleverly crafted attack.
Whenever someone’s email is phished, I’ve commonly noticed the following changes to their email account:
- Their email contains a random rule that hides new messages and forwards them to the attacker.
- Suspicious emails are usually sent, deleted, or received by contacts from the phished account.
However, the good news is that in the majority of cases, they are easy to spot.
Some things to watch for:
- Incorrect spelling and grammatical errors The email address, not just the from name (for example, if you receive an email with the name Google but the email address [email protected], this is a red flag).
- Verify the links by hovering your cursor over the email’s urls. Do they appear shady?
- In the email, do you see a thread of previous correspondence, but you’ve never spoken to this person? Probably a trick.
Some phishing emails may appear to be legitimate, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between the real thing and a hoax.
Even though phishing isn’t the only method, it’s the most common, and many other methods are variations of it. With only a little technical know-how, anyone can do it.
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