How phishing scams affect Melbourne users?

how-phishing-scams-affect-melbourne-users

In April 2021, Facebook was hacked. The effects of this hack are still being felt throughout Australia and the rest of the world. This is just one example of how cybersecurity threats can affect individuals in their everyday lives. Here’s a look at what phishing attacks are, the ways that they’re increasing, and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is Phishing?

Phishing scams are on the rise because it’s an effective way for hackers to gain access to your private information. A phishing scam occurs when criminals try to get sensitive information from users by posing as a legitimate organization or person. They often go after people with valuable data such as credit card numbers or social security numbers.

Phishing can be carried out in a variety of ways, such as:

  1. Emails that direct the user to click on a link and enter sensitive information.
  2. Emails that contain attachments that hold viruses or malware.
  3. Fake ads and social media posts waiting to entice you with freebies just for clicking.
  4. Fake tech support pop-ups lurking on your screen when you search for something online.

One of the most effective ways that hackers are getting personal information is through phishing scams. For example, an email might begin with “your account has been compromised.” It will then direct the user to a link that looks real saying it is from their bank or somewhere else they know securely would be asking for specific details needed to log into their accounts. Of course, there are many other examples, but overall these cyberattacks are on the rise and affect users in many different ways every day.

Some ways that these scams are effective is because they are so easily accessible. Hackers get new ideas every day to trick people into revealing their personal information, therefore their schemes get more advanced every day. But if you think of the most common places where people go to access their accounts, there’s a big chance that hackers have planned beforehand what methods they will use for this specific location. Usually, it won’t be hard at all for them to find out what operating system you’re using or just how your browser operates.

People believe these scams because, on top of being on legitimate websites used by many people daily, hackers make it seem like they are an employee from the site saying they want to help you out by taking care of this issue quickly. They will say that they are changing your password because it has been compromised, or that you’re using an older version of the software which leaves you vulnerable to hackers.

This will give them access to all your information for this specific website and if it is connected with other sites as well, then they can pop up anywhere and pretend to be one of those websites. It’s scary just how many people fall into these traps and give away their information. If they want something else from you like your credit card number, then there is nothing stopping them at that point.

These scams are taking many different forms, letting hackers steal your personal data by sending you false emails or tricking you into entering it online while looking like a trustworthy company or service provider. Criminals are constantly finding new tactics to try to gain access to sensitive information through these scams, which creates an ever-increasing need for awareness of how to spot and avoid them.

Emails

Probably one of the most commonly used techniques used to phish users these days.

They even use tactics such as emailing you with a link so active that it redirects straight to the legitimate login page but everything on the page looks different than it actually is. With the new tabs on top of the URL bar, these phishing pages can easily get away with this tactic.

Another common practice that hackers use is to give you a link saying that they need your login information again. They will say it’s because there was some sort of server error and ask for your password and username. Then when you type in your information blindly, they quickly steal it without anyone knowing what is going on.

Another popular email scam that has been affecting Australia: You will get an email about someone who won the lottery in another country but needs help sending $5000 back home because they can’t do it themselves or something along those lines. You might be thinking “I’ve seen this before!” and you’re right; most times these scams come from Africa and ask for money so they can win the lottery here as well!  It’s actually pretty ridiculous since we don’t even play their country’s lotteries!  Please avoid doing anything like this! There is another new twist on this scam.  Now, you will get a reply from the person who won the lottery and they want to send you some money too!  Don’t fall for it!

Mobile phone scams

Phishing is becoming more and more popular with the rise of smartphones because most people do not know how to defend themselves from these attacks. It is important that if someone asks for personal information, you question their motives. Maybe even call them up (if possible) and see if they are indeed who they say they are. If they try to avoid the question, chances are high that it’s a scam! On the other hand, we must be careful not to accuse everyone who asks for our information. Just be smart about it and weary of where you give your info to. Remember, the less people know about you, the better off you are. If you are a victim, we suggest you report it to Scamwatch.com.au ASAP!

Recently, there has also been an increase in mobile phone apps designed to look like reputable services providers (for example, helping people find local restaurants) but instead contain malware. The scammers can scrape your information off your phone when you download the app before sending you advertisements or promoting the sites of companies looking for marketing opportunities. The phishing scams on the mobile phone typically use a fake email that directs people to the website of a company where they need to log in and update their account. Even more recently, hackers have been taking advantage of app-based transactions with credit card numbers being stolen without the knowledge of the user. The app doesn’t need to be downloaded, but if your information is not strong enough you have just given this person all of the tools they need to get even more personal information about you or worse yet, steal your identity.

People also take advantage of the fact that we don’t know how to secure our money from being stolen from us. All they have to do is give a sob story and say someone just hacked into their account and stole all their money. In this day and age, it’s hard to believe that anyone still falls for these scams, but somehow there are those out there who do! The hacker will tell them something along the lines of “I’m going to send your money back, but I need your account information.” Of course, many people won’t fall for this because they can see what a scam it is. However, sometimes the person will actually confirm their account information, not realizing that they have just given it to a complete stranger. Most people think of these scams as being run by kids trying to get your bank information for fun. This is completely false—most of the time these are actually sophisticated hackers who are planning on stealing all your money! If you give someone sensitive financial information over the internet, there’s no telling if they’re going to use it for ways other than what they say.

This phishing scam was designed to make people feel bad and make them want to help whoever has been robbed. It goes along with saying something like “I tried calling but couldn’t get through” or “you must be busy right now.” They’ll write this because they know that after reading it, users will have a higher chance of doing what the scammer says.

The birth of Ransomware

One recent phishing scam that has come under the spotlight again is ransomware, with hackers sending out emails that provide links that appear legitimate but are actually linked to malicious software programs. Ransomware allows criminals to access users’ files by encrypting their data and holding it hostage unless they pay a certain dollar amount.

ransomware

Facebook and Twitter users are always targeted

Phishing scams on Facebook and Twitter have also made headlines recently, with some victims losing millions of dollars. The criminals create profiles for well-known or reputable companies (for example, online retailers) on social media sites and convince customers to click on links that lead them to fake websites designed to look like real ones. These scam websites can silently scrape customers’ information before redirecting them back to the authentic site without the customers realizing it! The only difference will be that the criminal has your personal details and credit card information while you remain unaware until it’s too late.

The biggest phishing scam that is going on right now has got to be the Facebook scams.  For example someone adds you as a friend and after some time starts saying how he is stuck in another country with no money and needs help borrowing $200 so he can finally get back home. Do you know what you would probably do? You’d help him out, send him the money through Western Union or something like that because chances are you know the person.  What happens after, however, is that he deletes you as a friend and the money is gone.

Our experiences:

One of our clients was on a phone call with her friend when she mentioned to the victim that the laptop had been hacked from clicking on a link! Our client decided to see how deep this phishing scam went and clicked on one of the links herself. It sent her through all these pages that looked exactly like her friend’s, from the correct website. It was so frustrating for her but also scary to see how they have been able to take over so much of our lives!

Phishing scams are known for their ability to trick many people at once, including even those who know what phishing is and how common these cyberattacks are. They usually begin with an email or through a link online stating it is either to be used as a “first warning” or in the case of our client’s laptop, saying that there had been suspicious activity detected on her device. When asked if she knew anyone else that worked in the company, she admitted that everyone in her office received this email too.

Our tip on how to identify scams

Long story short: There is an epidemic of phishing scams everywhere. If someone has your password, they can do all kinds of damage. They may put viruses onto your computer or they could find out where your bank account information is so that they can try to steal money from it.

Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid these scams if you know what to look for.

  1. Many phishing scams can be identified by looking closely at the website’s URL. For example, if the domain name is not registered to a real company or if it has unusual phrasing (for example, “target=_blank”), do not give any private information and seek help from a third party.
  2. Next, check the email address carefully. It might be one letter different than the actual company’s name (example: htis@gmail.com instead of this@gmail.com). If the email address is a little suspicious, also look at the name that shows up next to it. Again, it might be 1 letter off from the actual person’s name who works at that company (example: Taylor Garcia will show up as Taylor G carr ia , or Taylor S garcia). If nothing else seems wrong with this email, there is still 1 other big reason not to open it! See if you can spot what this should have been by looking to see if there are any spelling errors. When you type an email, you never misspell the first and last name of your contact. These kinds of mistakes mean that it probably isn’t a real email from a real person at a company. It is a phishing scam, and if you open it you will probably give your password away to a hacker!
  3. If you ever receive an email that looks like something that might not be right (it could be from anywhere: an online shop, phone carrier, airline company), always look for spelling mistakes and strange spellings of words. A basic check like this can help save you the time of giving up your password and account information.
  4. Also, never provide information to people who email you, even if they say it’s a mistake or that something has gone wrong with your account. A tell-tale sign of a phishing scam is an email asking for personal information!
  5. The best thing you can do to not become a victim of one of these scams is just ignore the emails and stay safe. It might be hard as they are pretty convincing, but it will all be worth it as you keep your information private and start avoiding those nasty phishing websites that could steal all your information within minutes!
  6. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the attachment. A phish might contain a large file, but chances are it’s not what you think it is. It could be a virus! Stay away from any attachments sent to you by people you do not know.
  7. Phishing scams also happen on commonly used websites. If someone messages you on Facebook and asks for your username and password, don’t do it! They probably hacked into an old account of yours and will then change your password.
  8. Also, if you receive a message on Kik or any messaging app and they ask for your username and password, don’t do it! These contain viruses as well.

It doesn’t help much if you have an antivirus or anti-malware suite either as these are easy to avoid by the hackers themselves. Having an extra sense of security might be something you could consider getting yourself.

If you’ve been a victim of a recent scam, there is a good chance that your computer or laptop could be compromised. Not to worry – our local technician is always round and will help you get back on your feet.