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Wisbech computer expert's advice on avoiding phishing scams

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In his fortnightly I.T Crowd column, Philip Brooks, of Diamond Byte Solutions, discusses phishing...

A couple of years ago, we wrote an article about phishing scams. In case you didn’t read it, or have forgotten, phishing is a way in which fraudsters attempt to trick you into providing your user names and passwords to a malicious website. Most of these scams come in the form of emails, claiming to be from organisations such as Internet Service Providers, banks, PayPal, eBay, Google or Apple. The emails will look genuine with the all the right icons, logos, and fonts that you’d expect to see and will ask you to login, via the link in the email, to the “secure” page of the website with your email address and password. This link of course will take you to a false destination, usually a page that requests you to enter sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords, etc. The scammers use this page to harvest your inputted data and then use that data to fraudulently pretend to be you.

Google has published a quiz that tests users’ abilities to distinguish genuine emails from phishing ones and helps users to learn to spot the differences. The quiz is quick, fun and was designed to take into account the latest and most sophisticated phishing techniques (it is based on security trainings held with more than 10,000 journalists, activists, and politicians from around the world).

Phishing (56492360)
Phishing (56492360)

In total, there are eight examples that Google tests you on, some representing legitimate emails and others phishing scams. Using the information in each example email, you choose whether it’s real or fake. After you choose, the quiz will inform you of the correct answer and then tell you why the message is a phishing scam or not.

Don’t be discouraged if you get a low score: in fact, that’s what Google wants. The whole point of the quiz is to show people how incredibly good scammers are at creating legitimate-looking emails and present you with tools on how to spot them.

To take the Google quiz, type https://phishingquiz.withgoogle.com/ into your browser address bar or simply search for Google Phishing Quiz on your internet browser.

Sadly, crooks will never let up on designing new ways in which to scam innocent users. So, it is up to us to remain aware and proactive. If you do receive an email from a big-name company that looks suspicious, forward it onto their fraud team who will inspect it and try to stop the crooks from using that email server. But most importantly, NEVER click on any links to web pages.

Further articles from Diamond Byte can be found on our website: diamondbyte.co.uk/blog

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