Don't fall for that deceptive email asking for your help
Hackers are using phishing email scams to try and steal your information. Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson explains how it works and what you can do to secure your tech.
It's a jungle out there in the world of emails, a wild, unruly landscape where spam messages dart in and out like agile panthers, and phishing emails lurk like camouflaged pythons ready to pounce. Today, we turn the spotlight on a rather peculiar phishing email story that puts a twist on the tale.
This isn't just another "prince with a fortune" email. Oh, no. This one asks a simple question: "Do you have an Amazon account?" This is a scam email we recently received with the word "favor" in the subject line:
Sometimes these phishing emails come in unexpected forms, like the innocent question posed above. It doesn't seem threatening, but that's where the danger lies. It's even more alarming when these emails come from your known contacts. Their accounts might have been hacked and are now being used to trick you.
If you reply to these emails, you risk providing information to scammers that could lead to identity theft, unauthorized access to your accounts, or other types of fraud. Your best line of defense is vigilance and a healthy dose of skepticism.
If you suspect an email, even from a known contact, don't take any risks. Never click on links or download attachments from such emails. If it appears to be from a company you know, visit their official website yourself, and contact them directly.
If you think a contact's email has been compromised, reach out through another communication channel to verify. Lastly, make sure to secure your own email account to prevent it from being used as a tool in phishing scams.
Here are some steps to help you:
Securing your email address using Two-Step Verification (also known as two-factor authentication or 2FA) is an effective way to add an extra layer of security to your account. 2FA adds a step that hopefully makes it harder for hackers to get into your email.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to enable Two-Step Verification for some popular email providers through their browsers:
The best way to protect yourself from having your data breached is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices.
Having good antivirus software actively running on your devices will alert you to any malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any malicious links in phishing emails and ultimately protect you from being hacked.
Don't take the easy road with "123456" or "password." Craft a unique, robust password – something that doesn't involve your birthdate, pet's name or favorite movie. Think of it as your secret handshake.
Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords. It will help you to create unique and difficult-to-crack passwords that a hacker could never guess.
It also keeps track of all your passwords in one place and fills passwords in for you when you're logging into an account so that you never have to remember them yourself. The fewer passwords you remember, the less likely you will be to reuse them for your accounts.
Here's how and where to change your password on some popular accounts you may have:
How to change your iCloud account password
How to change your Microsoft Outlook account password
How to change your Yahoo email password
How to change your AOL email password
How to change your Gmail account password
Even if an email comes from a known contact, handle it with care if it seems out of character or asks unusual questions. If you receive an email that asks you to click on a link, download an attachment, or provide personal information, do not do so without verifying the sender and the legitimacy of the request.
Sometimes, it's best to create various email aliases so that you don't have to worry about all your info getting taken in a data breach. My top recommendation to avoid being inundated with spam emails is to use an alias email address, which is an additional email address that can be used to receive emails in the same mailbox as the primary email address. It acts as a forwarding address, directing emails to the primary email address.
In addition to creating throwaway email accounts for online sign-ups and other circumstances where you would not want to disclose your primary email address, alias email addresses are helpful for handling and organizing incoming communications.