I don’t know if it is me or the general trend I seem to get loads of spam in my inbox and in my spam box.  It looks like it has increased almost ten fold maybe. Very annoying as it eats into my time – cleaning my inbox.

But lately the news about hotmail users emails hacked and Gmail users getting hacked by a phishing scam is a bit more scary. If those big corporations cannot keep the hackers at bay what are ordinary people like me going to do?

What is phishing?

Phishing is a broad term for any effort to gain personal data, directly from the user – login details, passwords, bank account details, etc. – by tricking them into entering it into a website or email.

How does it work?

Most often, a phishing attempt will direct a user to a “spoof” website, designed to look like a user’s legitimate banking site, payment service, or social network site.

An old standby for malware in general being brought into the phishing tackle box is pop-up advertising that offers updated system performance or anti-virus software. Instead, users may be installing a key-logger that reports back with any passwords or details entered thereafter. This is exactly what you are trying to avoid.

How do I avoid being phished?

Some simple steps to take:-

  • First and foremost, having up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs is the best first line of defence. I use Pareto Logic anti virus software suit which seems to work well

    Also, always remember that your bank and most reputable third-party payment services will never ask you for your password. They would already have it.

  • They will also always address you by your name and not dear customer etc.
  • It is easy to create a spoof site but not easy to mask the the actual place where it sits in cyberspace. All you have to do is to hover over the URl in the browser and watch the bottom left to see where it is.
  • Never click on attachement from an unknown source. This is an easy place to hide viruses and malware.