For the next few segments Our Geek will be discussing way to keep us safe online, from Phishing email to social Media. If you have any questions, at the end of this article is information on how you can contact our Resident Geek.

In this day and age it seems like there is always a scam out there and since Covid there have been more phishing email scams.

What is a Phishing Email?

A Phishing email is one of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to steal your information. They send an email that looks so authentic that they are able to trick people into clicking on the link attached so they can grab someone’s information from Banking to Social Media to email credentials. They are literally fishing for information   However there is no need to be alarm if you stay alert you will not take their bait. While phishing emails will try and trick you into entering personal details or other confidential information, there are sure tell signs that they are not legitimate.  So what should you look out for?

Time Limit

If the email gives you a very short time limit for you to respond, for example;

Your Visa may have been compromised please contact us within 24 hours to verify your information by clicking the link below.

They use this tactic to appeal to our reflex response. They know that many of us are already afraid of our financial information of being compromised so by using this method they are hoping that the time limit will make you panic and respond immediately.

Email Address

Many times we do not check the address of the emails when we receive them but if you take a quick moment a view the email addresses both to and from.  If the email address in the TO: section does not have your email address in it. This is very suspicious behaviour.  Also in the FROM: section if the email address is blank or the address does not match the companies name or spelt incorrectly this is definitely a phishing email.  (click on the images for an example)

Greeting

Since those that send these emails out send them in bulk, they usually do not know your name so address the greeting to the first part of your email address or address you as customer.  This is one major red flag for all banks and companies you do business with will address you with the name you have on record in their files. 

For example: Mary Doe receives a phishing email. Her address mary10237@example.com However the Greeting is; Dear mary10237 instead of Mary Doe

If you receive something similar using part of your email address in the greeting it is most likely a phishing email.

Grammatical errors

Many phishing emails are filled with grammatical errors, odd capitalization, and misspellings. The emails might also contain odd phrases or sentences that sound a bit off. Read your email aloud. If something doesn’t sound right, or professional, be suspicious. It could be a phishing for your information.

Low-resolution logo

Phishers will often steal the logos of government agencies, banks and credit card providers in their phishing emails to look authentic, yet the logo will be of low quality  maybe fuzzy, indistinct, tiny and/or a little off colour. This is a sign that this email is not from a representative of the company or organization.

Odd URL

Many time the phishing emails will have a link attached in which they ask you to click it.  If you hover over whatever link the message is asking you to click. This will show the link’s URL. Often, you’ll see that the URL doesn’t belong to whatever company is supposedly sending it, or there is spelling errors int the companies name portion within the URL. This is definitely a phishing link that will lead you to a website that looks like a legitimate site however it is not. (Click on the image below for an example)

Notice that the link does not have Cogeco in it.

While there are other ways to identify a phishing email these are the main ones.  Just keep this in mind if an email sounds too good to be true or makes you want to react and fix a problem, stop and review the email does it have any of the above points. Never click the link if you are not 100% sure it is from the company or business.  If they say your account has been compromised then go to that site as you would normally access it.  If you are unsure, it is always better to be safe than sorry; so contact the company by phone, not with a phone number within the email but with one from the phone book, or you have on hand.

Below you will find a quick reference checklist from Netcetera to help you distinguish if you are reading a phishing email or not.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, the email you just opened may well be a scam.

  • Is the email from someone you do not know personally, or communicate with normally?
  • Is the person (known or not) asking for something unusual, issues related to an online account or password, or otherwise acting out of character?
  • Is the sender’s email address from a suspicious sounding domain? (i.e. @micro-softsupport.com, @paypal-security.net)
  • Were you CC’ed on an email with some other people you do not know?
  • Does the subject line seem irrelevant, not make sense, or not match the content of the email?
  • Is the email a reply to a message you never sent?
  • Did the email come at an odd time, like 2:00 am?
  • Is the sender asking you to click on a link or open an attachment?
  • Does the email contain a .zip or other executable file?
  • When you hover over any links within the email, does it show a different link than what is contained within the body of the email?
  • Does the email contain a link, but no other information?
  • Is the link to a well-known website, but spelled incorrectly and somewhat suspicious looking? (i.e., paypal.paymentsnow.com, bankofamericacom.net)
  • Is the sender stating something bad will happen if you do not click the link, or that there is extreme value in clicking the link?
  • Does the email contain poor grammar or spelling mistakes?
  • Is the sender warning you that they found inappropriate content or images of you online?
  • Is your gut or “Spidey Sense” trying to tell you something…

If you have a question you would like to have answered. Here are three ways you can ask.

  1. Leave a comment on this post,
  2. Use our  Send a Message page
  3. Email our Geek at techgeek@wallaceburgadultactivitycentre.ca

Till next time stay safe, stay healthy and most of all stay positive.

Your Resident Geek.

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