It’s not always easy to realize that you’ve been deceived after opening a link received via SMS or email, but there are clear signs that can help you understand when you’re facing a scam.
Phishing, smishing and vishing are some types of scams that have become widespread in recent years. Let’s explore them together.
Phishing: What It Is and How to Recognize It
Phishing is a widely used scam method by hackers aiming to extract information and sensitive data such as passwords and credit card numbers through emails, posing as well-known institutions or companies.
Users who fall victim to this deception often disclose information, thinking they’re in contact with legitimate companies, when unfortunately, they’re actually facing a data scam. The most commonly used tactic to obtain user data is by including a link in an email or SMS, asking the user to verify necessary information to receive a payment, a package, or to avoid negative consequences. This way, the user, driven by the urgency to find a solution, often takes the wrong action by clicking the link and providing their data, falling into the trap.
The opened link leads to a website identical or very similar to the actual brand’s site, leaving little doubt for the user who then reveals their password and username to access a restricted area or their bank account. In this simple manner, hackers not only obtain information but frequently seize bank profiles, social media profiles, and any other sensitive data.
For example, a few months ago, the Italian Social Security Administration (INPS) even communicated via Twitter that hackers were attempting to acquire users’ private information and data through a fraudulent email. The email stated an unsuccessful refund operation and prompted the user to re-enter their information by clicking the link, the source of the scam.
⚠️ È in corso un nuovo tentativo di #phishing! Non cliccate sul link e non fornite nessun dato. Esplora #AttentialleTruffe sul sito #INPS https://t.co/k7GjZXgIRE#InpsComunica #VerificaLaFonte pic.twitter.com/n1lpubfvd0
— INPS (@INPS_it) April 5, 2023
How to Recognize Deception?
One of the elements that can raise an alarm when an email arrives is the sender’s address: indeed, even if well-known usernames are often used, a closer look at the address reveals that they often do not correspond to official ones, but are made up or highly ambiguous.
The message’s content can also provide hints. Phishing messages often contain typos, translation errors, punctuation mistakes, and even misleading numbers and codes. Moreover, the content itself might contain incredibly tempting but untrue and unreliable offers. The language used might be alarming, conveying a sense of urgency that often leads the user to hasty actions. It’s important to carefully read and analyze every part of the email’s content before taking any action, from the address and sender’s name to the message itself.
It’s crucial not to open any links or attachments in the email, as well as in text messages. These are examples of hooks launched by hackers, waiting for users to take the bait.
To protect oneself from these attacks and viruses that can infect one’s computer, it’s essential to use anti-malware software and cybersecurity tools.
Smishing and Vishing: Other Types of Online Deception
Smishing is a type of phishing that employs a text message as bait to convince users to click a link, provide information, or download applications that might harm the device. Adding credibility to the message are details like the recipient’s name or location, all elements designed to deceive.
Examples of smishing can also occur through SMS, often containing special names and codes associated with well-known brands, inviting users, for instance, to track a package.
Another form of data theft is vishing, derived from “voice” and “phishing,” which occurs via phone call or voicemail. In this case too, users are tricked by hackers who gain access to private information and bank accounts through rushed phone calls that leverage people’s emotions, such as fear and trust. Indeed, scammers often try to evoke panic to confuse the victim and elicit the disclosure of confidential information.
Therefore, it’s important to recognize theft attempts and carefully read communications in their entirety before clicking any links or attachments, not skipping any step. Before taking any action, it’s necessary to verify and not act out of haste or fear, as the consequences could be particularly unpleasant. Installing protection and security systems, such as antivirus software, on devices is useful to prevent any form of deception and, above all, requires special attention.