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What is phishing? And where are the threats?

As thieves cast their phishing lures, here are 3 places you should be on guard.

Phishing is a distinctly internet-based crime. It happens when fraudsters pretend to be someone else — typically a business — and try to trick you into providing your personal information.

Much like “fishing,” phishing tries to get you to bite, luring you into giving over your information. In this sense, the potential victims are the fish. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from phishing is to not take the bait — when in doubt, don’t click.

Where should you be on guard?

In short, everywhere. Phishing attempts can happen through links in email, texts, pop-up messages or elsewhere on the web. That said, here are 3 places you should pay particular attention to phishing threats.

1. At home.

Even if you have good internet security on your home network, all it takes is clicking on one phishing link to potentially wreak havoc. Whether you’re checking your email or surfing the web, don’t click on links from sources you don’t absolutely trust. Even so, businesses rarely ask for personal information on the web. When in doubt, call the business.

2. At work.

Phishing can also be a big threat to businesses, governments and other organizations. Don’t assume that just because you’re at work, you’re protected. Criminals may be trying to get just one person in your organization to click on their link. A successful phishing attempt can open a trove of valuable data to thieves: trade secrets, private communications and other information that could have a crippling effect if made public. Once again, when in doubt, don’t click.

3. On the go.

When using a web-connected smartphone, out and about, don’t let your guard down. Though your wireless access and phone may have security features, you may only be a click away from a security lapse. Phishing attempts on phones or tablets may seek to gain access to your apps, cloud storage and other potential treasure troves of personal data.

Remember, all phishing criminals may need is one click. So, wherever your inbox, browser or phone takes you, simply stop and think before you click.