Phishing is a type of cyber attack in which cybercriminals trick victims to install malware or hand over sensitive information, such as login credentials and credit card numbers.
In this blog post, we’ll explain how phishing works and what to do if you clicked on a phishing link.
Let’s dive in.
Phishing is a type of online scam in which cybercriminals send emails or texts or even call victims, posing as legitimate institutions, in an attempt to obtain sensitive information.
The emails or texts are often made to look like they’re coming from a credible source and even tech-savvy people can fall for them. They usually ask victims to provide information such as passwords, credit card details, or a social security number. In email and texts, they often ask you to click on a link, which usually results in installing malware on your device.
If you click on a link in a phishing email or text, you’ll likely end up downloading malware onto your computer or phone.
Malware is malicious software that steals sensitive information, which allows the attackers access to your accounts. This type of software can also erase and encrypt your data and hijack parts of your computer that can potentially damage its hardware.
That’s why it’s important to keep your antivirus software up to date and run regular scans.
If you have accidentally clicked on a phishing link, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from further damage.
If you opened a spam email by mistake and think it might be a phishing attack, the first thing you should do is disconnect your device from the Internet. This can prevent the downloading of the malware and prevent it from attacking any device that was connected to your computer.
If you’re using a wireless connection, you should turn off Wi-Fi in your Settings and if using a wired connection, unplug the ethernet cable.
Once you’ve disconnected your device from the Internet, backup all files, data, and documents you have on it and transfer them to a flash drive, a memory stick, or an external hard drive.
After you’ve made sure that you have a copy of all of your files, the next step is to run a malware scan. An antivirus app like Avast will let you perform a full scan and remove any harmful files on the system that it flags.
If you’ve fallen for a phishing scam, you’ll need to change the passwords and usernames (if possible) on all of your online accounts, including email and bank accounts. You can also enable multi-factor authentication as a precaution.
Related: ID Theft Statistics in the UK
If a malware scan finds harmful files, you should perform additional network device scans to ensure that it hasn’t spread to other devices on your network. Regardless of where the antivirus finds potentially infected files, you’ll have to remove them from the system.
If you have clicked on a phishing email or scam link but did not provide any details to the page where the link took you, you should:
Here’s what you can do if you have clicked on a phishing link:
If you have received or opened a phishing email, it is important to report it to the authorities. Reporting a phishing attack or a suspicious phishing attack is free and only takes a couple of minutes.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will look at the email and any links in it and determine if it was a phishing attack.
The department will then ask the email provider to block the email address, remove the links from the web, warn other email users of the methods used in the phishing attack, and flag commonly reported suspicious emails.
Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly common and more sophisticated that not even tech-savvy individuals are immune to these attacks. If you fall victim to a phishing attack, you should disconnect from the Internet, back up your files, run a malware scan, and delete any potentially infected files on your device and any others that are connected to the same network.
Phishing texts or emails usually ask for sensitive information like passwords and security numbers, something that a legitimate organisation would never ask for, or make a promise that seems far-fetched. However, some phishing attacks are difficult to recognise, even for people that know their way around the tech world.
If you’ve clicked on a phishing link on your phone, you should back up your data, run a malware scan via an antivirus app like Kaspersky, and delete all flagged files. The safest route is deleting everything on your phone, provided that your data is backed up, and starting from scratch.
If you open a phishing email and accidentally clicked on a spam link, the first thing you need to do is disconnect your device from the Internet. Once you back up your files, remove all flagged files and change your passwords.
As a digital marketing specialist, I am well aware of how hard it can be to find credible sources online. Frustrated at the state of affairs, I created Don’t Disappoint Me. Now, together with my team of dedicated experts, we aim to bring you 100% reliable, unbiased and recent content on everything you could ever imagine. When I’m not working, you’ll catch me watching a documentary or two, rewatching LOTR for the 20th time, or going on walks with my two dogs, which take up most of my free time. But hey, who’s complaining?