Our main antivirus solution provider (ESET) has repeatedly drawn our attention to increasing online activity targeting Irish email addresses with phishing scams – often using the names of Irish Revenue and Customs, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, DHL or even pretending to be someone from or own company.
The Revenue scam has been particularly persistent, claiming the receiver of the email is due a tax refund and taking anyone who clicks on the link to a fake Revenue website where they are asked for bank or credit/debit card details.
How to Spot a Phishing Attack:
Bad grammar and misspelled words are usually the huge, glaring clues that the email isn’t legitimate. These can be in either the subject or the body of the email. The existence of special characters such as punctuation marks in the middle of a word is another dead giveaway. These errors usually occur as the result of being run through a translation program because the attacker doesn’t speak English.
A quick test is to hover over the sender’s name in the email itself. If it doesn’t show as the email address from the person or organization that it should be, it’s definitely a phishing attack. What the attacker has done in this case is spoofed the email address to disguise itself as a legitimate message in order to get past any security checks you may have in place.
The email asks for financial or other sensitive information. Any emails that appear to be from banks, the Revenue, medical institutions or other companies that handle sensitive data, can typically be ignored. Trust me, if these people want to get in touch with you, they’ll get in touch with you and it won’t be by email. If there’s a problem with your account or payments, they will get a hold of you. So please do not send out any personal information, account numbers, PIN codes, or passwords over email. EVER. Chances are these emails are being sent unencrypted and, therefore, can be intercepted by several means leaving you wide open to identity theft.
The email uses a different font, colour or a different writing style than the writer typically uses. If you get an email from someone in your company that doesn’t really sound like the way they normally rite or which is formatted differently than their emails usually are, that may be an indication of a phishing email – especially if they’re asking for sensitive or financial information.
What can you do to escape these phishing attacks?
A great spam filter will help filter out most of these attacks. The spam filters can analyse the message before it ever gets to you and kick out any blatant attacks. A good antivirus solution will scan emails and attachments for any malicious software or back doors that may be working to break into your system and steal personal data. Unfortunately, these attacks are getting better and better at disguising their identity and intentions and sometimes are getting past spam filters.
Our advice to all of our clients and customers – if it looks too good to be true it usually is. Never follow a link in an email to go to a site you regularly use for banking or financial transactions – go directly there by typing the correct URL into your browser.
And remember, make sure you have a good antivirus solution in place (the paid versions are best!) and keep doing the system updates on your PC. This greatly reduces your vulnerability to these scammers.
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