What is Phishing Email?
A phishing email is any malicious email message that's sent by cyber criminals to obtain money or sensitive information. The term “phishing” is a spin on the word fishing, and it alludes to the fact that the authors of phishing emails often use fake email addresses, websites, and even security certificates to lure unsuspecting victims.
Modern phishing emails can be extremely convincing and difficult to recognize, so it’s absolutely paramount for all email users to learn how to spot a phishing email and how to prevent phishing attacks.
How to Prevent Phishing Attacks?
Phishing attacks have been around for several decades, and they have evolved dramatically over the years. Many tips on how to stop and prevent phishing attacks have become outdated, while other tips are still relevant to this day.
1. Be Wary of Unknown Senders
Whenever you receive a personal email from someone you don’t know, be extremely cautious. Phishers sometimes like to impersonate legitimate companies and people to steal login credentials and other personal information, but they can succeed only when they successfully lure you in and make you do what they want you to do.
If you suddenly receive an email asking you for personal information from someone you don’t know, don’t hesitate to give the person a call before replying. IT administrators sometimes like to simulate phishing attacks because they want to teach employees that email addresses can be faked, and you don’t want to label yourself as someone who blindly trusts emails from unknown senders.
2. Look for Bad Grammar and Improper Spelling
Long gone are the days of Nigerian princes asking for small loans in exchange for millions of dollars, but phishing emails with bad grammar and improper spelling are still very common. You may even stumble upon a phishing email written in completely broken English that’s below the level of leading machine translation tools.
That said, most grammar and spelling mistakes are quite subtle and sometimes even intentional. For example, a phisher may decide to write “appIe” (capital i) instead of “apple” (lowercase L) to register a domain name that’s visually indistinguishable from the real domain name.
3. Avoid Suspicious Attachments
Legitimate organizations seldom send emails with attachments. Phishers, on the other hand, send email attachments all the time. In one Apple phishing email scam, cyber criminals send fake Apple invoices that mirror the look of real Apple invoices. Sometimes, the invoices are simply vessels used to distribute malware. Other times, the invoices contain links that lead to a fraudulent website that looks just like the genuine Apple website. The fake website typically asks for login credentials, which is how the scammers are able to steal accounts belonging to Apple users.
4. Learn to Recognize Common Types of Phishing Scams
There are at least six common phishing attacks that you should learn to recognize:
- The first one is deceptive phishing, and its objective is to trick you into providing personal information by sending you email messages that pretend to come from recognized sources.
- Next is spear phishing, which is a more sophisticated version of deceptive phishing that targets specific email users with personalized emails, phone calls, and other methods.
- Companies become the victims of a type of phishing scam called CEO fraud, with phishers impersonating executives and abusing their email accounts to authorize fraudulent wire transfers.
- When phishers hijack a website’s domain name and use it to redirect visitors to an imposter site, we talk about pharming.
- Dropbox phishing is when realistic emails claiming to come from Dropbox, a file hosting service designed to reduce busywork-so you can focus on the things that matter, request the user to click through to secure their account or download a shared document.
- Finally, there’s Google Docs phishing, which is essentially the same as Dropbox phishing expect that the cyber criminal’s service of choice is Google Drive instead of Dropbox. If you’re not sure whether you’ve received a Google phishing email or not, don’t hesitate to contact Google directly and ask for help.
5. Keep Your Inbox Clean and Organized
Phishing emails wouldn’t be as effective as they are if people kept their inboxes clean and organized. Unfortunately, most people receive so many email messages every single day that it’s virtually impossible to keep up with them without the help of bulk email organizer like Clean Email.
Put an End to Email Phishing with Clean Email
Clean Email is a bulk email cleaner that can protect you from spam with its automation features, including Auto Clean and Unsubscriber. The former lets you automatically apply various actions to new emails just by checking a single checkbox. All automation rules appear in a convenient dashboard that lets you manage them with ease.
Unsubscriber is perfect for unsubscribing from unwanted marketing emails, which may actually be phishing emails in disguise. Even if the sender does not provide an option to unsubscribe, Clean Email will make sure that unwanted emails won't stay in your inbox and bring your productivity to a screeching stop.
Phishing scams are not going anywhere, which is why it’s so important for all email users to learn how to spot and prevent them. Fortunately, tools like Clean Email have proven themselves to be very effective when it comes to automatically removing unwanted email messages before they can cause any trouble.