The Internet is undoubtedly one of the most useful tools that humanity has ever created. However, even though it offers a large variety of benefits, the web can be a dangerous place with plenty of cyber-criminals disguised as good people. Email Phishing, for example, is a type of cyber-crime that has been around for the past two decades. It consists of fraudulent activity in which the goal is to obtain important personal information, such as credit card details, passwords and usernames for malicious purposes. Even our Red Deer website design customers are not immune, and hopefully this information will help you fend off these kinds of scams.


When did it start?


The term ‘’Phishing’’ was first mentioned in the early 90’s, when the hacking application known as AOHell attempted to steal financial information and passwords of American Online (AOL) users. In the past few years, phishers have been developing sophisticated techniques to attract more victims. Today, unexpected elements such as social engineering are being used to convince users to click on malicious content. A fake news story, for example, can lead people to click on infected links and end up spreading it to their contacts. For this reason, it is important to stay protected, and here are some tips on how to avoid being a victim of a phishing attack.


1. Avoid clicking on suspicious links


As mentioned before, phishers can use a variety of social and technical reasons to persuade users to click on malicious content. Their goal is to gain access to personal details in order to steal important data from bank accounts, credit cards, etc. At first, the emails will look trustworthy, however, you should pay attention to any signs of misspellings, shortened or odd URLs. In that case, one of the actions is to simply hover the mouse cursor over the URL, and it will be possible to see the real hyperlink. If the address is different than the one displayed on the email, it is quite possibly an attempt at phishing. If the link looks suspicious, don’t click!


2. The message was sent by a strange address


Imagine that you have just received an email from a renowned company that sporadically sends you emails with promotions or other type of content. Everything looks just fine, there is no sign of poor grammar, the formatting is correct, and the company logo is exactly the same one from the official website. However, the sender address seems strange, this is a red flag for you to be aware of that it is a phishing threat. Consequently, to ensure the message is actually from an official source, users should always pay extra attention to small details, such as the sender address.


3. Be wary of emails with threatening subject lines


Scammers can use a vast array of intimidation tactics to convince people to believe in their messages. Emails with alarming subjects, such as ‘’Warning: your account will be shut down!’’ are becoming more common as the phishing threat arises. Cyber-criminals will do everything to take advantage of people, even lead them to a state of absolute anxiety. They will mention names that range from governmental agencies to financial institutions. For this reason, before you click on any link provided by an email with this type of subject line, do not hesitate to call the official number of your bank or any other institution mentioned in the message. This way you can confirm if this email is official or not. Chances are it is not, as in most cases, if there was a problem with your banking for example, they would call you. However, even with phone calls you must be wary, as there are many phone scams out there too.