According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in ten people in the United Kingdom still fall victim to Internet scams. There are still many users who cannot easily tell legitimate sites from fake ones. Nonetheless, it is essential to learn more about these threats, as some of the potential risks can be losing all your money, misuse of your personal details and passwords, and identity theft. The common strategy amongst cyber-criminals is called Phishing (which alludes to the use of a visual bait that will attract users like fish).

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What is Phishing?

Due to the advent of the Internet and computers, criminals had to upgrade and devise new methods to fool people through the use of technology. Scam e-mails usually say you’ve won an award of some sort to make people provide their personal information or their bank accounts in order to claim the supposed award. Nowadays, these e-mails usually end up in our Spam folder. Their prevalence has made people learn little by little how to identify very obvious scams. Yet, 10% of Internet users have been estimated to be victims.

internet phishing scam PC at the back

The aim of phishing is using the Internet to get information out of anyone to use or take away their money. Criminals throw a fish-hook waiting for a fish that will come and take the bait. This bait can be fake e-mails or websites that claim to represent reputable banks and organizations. They trick people trough illusory ads and offers such as: “get sex for free” or “make yourself rich through the Internet.” The criminals involved do not require to make direct contact with their victims.

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Can I get Hacked?

Criminals also use malicious software (malware) to get the information they need. They can send flashy e-mails that will persuade the user to install it with just a few clicks. After that step, the malicious program starts to gather information or save whatever you type on the keyboard in order to get your email and bank account passwords. In other cases, they watch their victims through their own web-cam to blackmail them.

The reported number of Phishing victims was 15 million throughout 2015 and 2016. Those affected include naive users, as well as clients of big companies. Many scams ask for more than a million dollars transactions per day, and it is virtually impossible to trace its authors. They can easily hide their location through different methods. Moreover, it is also very hard to file a lawsuit because the user is the one to provide the information in the first place.

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These are the different kinds of phishing attacks that exist:

Spear Phishing: It is the most common. It consists of attempts to trick specific audiences. One example is music. If someone is constantly looking for musical software, the scammers may try to trick them into providing their information by offering them audio editing or processing software. The same applies to topics like porn, sex, money, beauty, and others that may involve the purchase of any product that a person desperately wants.

Clone Phishing: It involves a clone or imitation of a reputable website in which the users type their personal information. That is why banks and official web sites try to enforce the application of security tiers. They want to prevent users from entering information on a malicious website due to confusion.

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Just as its name suggests, it consists of criminal attacks sent out to high profile users —those with large sums of money—  that is not careful with their online activity. These scams tend to be more complex and elaborate to easily track their target.

Phone Phishing: These kinds of scams are played out through text messages. The user gets a message on their phone which warns them about an alleged issue with their bank account. Then, they ask them to provide their account numbers or security codes in order to sort out the issue. This is the most obvious of all scams. Their victims either have to be very naive or reckless with their security level.

internet phishing scam cell phone

Once we’re all ready aware of the types of phishing attacks that exist, it’s easier to identify deceitful ads and websites. However, millions of phishing attacks continue to take money away from their victims year after year, and it is extremely difficult to get that money back or find the culprit behind the scam.

We must not trust in those ads that make impossible offers, avoid entering information on suspicious web sites, double-check our bank’s site, and also install ad blockers. In this day and age, it is crucial to analyze everything that pops up in our screens if we don’t want to be the ones to fall into the trap and form part of the statistics mentioned above.