How Can Users Protect Themselves from Phishing Attacks?

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Phishing attacks are one of the most common methods used by cybercriminals to gain access to personal information through emails, text messages, and website pop-ups. In addition, they often use sophisticated techniques that can trick even the most tech-savvy users into giving away sensitive information. Therefore, users must understand how to protect themselves from phishing attacks and recognize when a message or website may be malicious.

This guide will provide an overview of phishing, why it’s harmful, and practical ways users can protect themselves from phishing attacks. We will discuss different phishing scams, recognize signs of a malicious link or email message, and explain how keeping security software updated on all devices is important. We will also address best practices on protecting personal information online and explain the steps to take if you think you have become a victim of a phish attack.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of fraud that entices users with communications, usually sent through email or SMS, which appear to be from legitimate sources they recognize and trust. The message will typically direct the recipient to a malicious website or contain attachments with malicious code. Once users interact with the fraudulent communication, they may be tricked into divulging confidential information such as banking information or passwords, or providing payment information to receive goods and services that do not exist.

Users need to know how phishing attacks can take place to protect themselves from being taken advantage of by fraudsters. It is also helpful for users to recognize what types of communications could be malicious and have an action plan established if their personal information has been compromised. Here are some steps for users to take to protect themselves from phishing attacks:

  • Be suspicious: Users should be cautious when responding to emails or text messages from unknown senders and even those from known senders containing contents that are unexpected or unrelated like links, ads, requests for money transfers, etc.
  • Verify authenticity: Trustworthy organisations will generally use URLs/addresses that match their official domain name. Before clicking on any link sent in an email/SMS message, look for slight differences like legitimate sounding words smuggling fake characters (e.g., www.legitcompany@trendingnews). Users should also avoid sharing sensitive data like passwords over phone calls unless necessary and it’s the customer service representative of a trusted business/organisation initiating contact with them.
  • Use strong authentication measures: Utilising two-factor authentication (2FA) along with strong passwords is recommended as an additional security layer while accessing online accounts on devices connected via public Wi-Fi networks as well as when logging into computers after waking up from sleep mode or unlocking them after a period of inactivity on a trusted device.. This can help prevent unauthorised access by requiring additional credentials beyond just entering a username and password each time one wants to log into an account even if the device has already been unlocked using facial recognition/fingerprint scanners/biometric scans etc..
  • Stay updated about security threats: By staying informed about current threats happening around you using reliable sources such as organic search engine results (don’t click any pop ups!) can help you stay better aware about potential phishing schemes circulating online allowing them more time to detect them quickly whenever encountered in their daily lives online!

Types of Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are one of the most common cyberattacks used to steal users’ private information. There are different phishing attacks, including Spear phishing, Whaling phishing, “Clone Phishing”, and “Business Email Compromise”.

In addition, it is increasingly important to understand how to protect yourself from phishing attacks due to recent developments, such as when Proofpoint sued Facebook to get permission to use lookalike domains for phishing tests.

Let’s look at some types of phishing attacks and how to protect yourself from them.

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a phishing attack targeting individuals rather than large groups. Attackers may send highly personalised emails that look legitimate and address the victim by name to entice them to provide sensitive information, such as financial account numbers or passwords. This type of attack is often seen with “CEO Fraud” or “Whaling” scams, in which a fraudster poses as a high-level executive in an organisation and requests confidential information or money transfers.

Spear phishing attacks are also frequently used by malicious actors to gain access to organisation networks through simple email scams or payloads attached to each message. However, in this case, victims receive such emails more quickly than they would with other types of phishing campaigns, resulting in a higher success rate for attackers.

Users need to be vigilant when spotting spear phishing attacks by paying close attention to details like email addresses, links, attachments and request content. If an email appears suspicious or unfamiliar, users should not open any links or attachments until they have confirmed the source with the sender contact before taking any action. Additionally important security measures such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and anti-phishing solutions can be used to protect online accounts from unauthorised access due to these targeted attacks.


Whaling is a phishing attack targeted at high profile individuals, such as CEOs and other executives. The attacker creates an official email that appears to come from a trusted source, such as the target organisation or another company the executive may interact with. Whaling attacks usually aim to acquire confidential information or money or to install malicious software on the victim’s computer. In addition, the message often contains fake requests and requests designed to deceive the victim into giving up sensitive information.

For instance, an attacker might pose as a vendor or customer who needs important information to process payment. They can also send viruses and malware disguised as legitimate files, such as spreadsheets or PDFs.

In some cases, a whaling attack may take the form of spear phishing, where attackers target an individual or a small group of people using highly personalised messages crafted for their specific audience, often making the attack more convincing and harder for anti-spam filters to detect. In addition, masquerading attacks might be employed in which attackers impersonate representatives from rival companies to steal corporate secrets from one another.

No matter what form it takes, it’s important that users remain informed about these attacks so they can protect themselves against them. It’s best practice not to click on exposed links or suspicious emails–especially those sent unsolicited–without verifying the request first through your security team or tech department. Furthermore, organisations should regularly train their employees to spot suspicious emails and increase their vigilance with repeated notifications about potential threats and updated security policies for online activities.


Vishing is a form of phishing that uses voice calls instead of email, text messages, or any other written method. In vishing, scammers often use automated calls (sometimes referred to as “robocalls”) to send out thousands of calls at once; however, it can also involve live calls. Vishing attempts use tactics and techniques to deceive people into giving out sensitive information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and passwords. To make the scam even harder to detect and more convincing, some vishers also use spoofing or caller ID manipulation so that their phone numbers appear as though they originate from banks or trusted companies.

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The goal of vishing scams is usually the same as other types of phishing—to steal sensitive data about a person’s financial accounts and other confidential information for malicious purposes. To protect yourself from vishing attacks, you should always be aware of your surroundings when answering calls from unknown numbers or receiving suspicious texts and emails. In addition, don’t give out personal information unless you have confirmed the source and source’s legitimacy. Finally, if you receive an automated call in which you’re asked to enter sensitive data or respond with commands (for instance “press 1”), don’t do it—hang up immediately!


Smishing, short for SMS phishing, is an attack where hackers send fake text or SMS messages to a victim’s mobile device to steal personal information. The messages usually appear to come from legitimate sources such as banks, credit card companies or other organisations and often contain links that lead the user to spoofed websites.

To launch a smishing attack, a hacker sends an SMS message or email containing malicious links, which look like legitimate websites. If the recipient clicks on the link, they are redirected to a malicious website that looks like the real thing to trick them into providing confidential data such as passwords, bank account information and credit card numbers. The hackers can then use this sensitive information for their gain.

Smishing attacks have become increasingly common since more people use their handheld devices for banking activities and other forms of electronic commerce. As a result, users need to be aware of smishing attacks and take steps to protect themselves from them.

To do so, individuals should only click on links from trusted sources and avoid giving out personal information through text message or email requests from unknown senders. Additionally, users should install up-to-date antivirus software on their mobile devices and enable two-factor authentication to protect their accounts against phishing attempts.

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are a growing problem, as cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tactics. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself from these attacks and stay one step ahead of the criminals.

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In this article, we will explore some methods users can use to protect themselves from phishing attacks, such as using lookalike domain detection and other methods. We will also discuss the recent news of Proofpoint suing Facebook for permission to use lookalike domains for phishing tests.

Be aware of suspicious emails

Email is a primary source of malicious phishing scams. While it’s impossible to identify every suspicious email, users should always look out for signs of phishing including:

  • Generic greeting, or none at all
  • An urgent or threatening tone
  • Spelling and grammatical errors
  • Requests for personal information
  • Incorrect branding or logos
  • Unfamiliar or suspicious links
  • Encrypted or “secret” messages containing login details

If you receive any emails that fit these characteristics, do not open them. Instead, delete them immediately. It is also important to be aware that cybercriminals can spoof the sender address of a real communication from an organisation you are familiar with to dupe unsuspecting recipients into responding with personal data. A trusted company never asks for confidential information via email — unless the user initiates contact — so never respond to such requests by email.

Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown senders

Users need to remember that a phishing attack can come from unexpected sources. Phishing attacks can be disguised as emails from friends, family, or other trusted sources within their organisation. If an email seems suspicious, it should not be acted upon without proper verification.

If you receive an email that is not expected, do not respond or click on any links provided in the email. Instead, look up the sender’s contact information and call or message them to ask if they sent the email. Delete it immediately if they deny sending or are unaware and contact your security team.

Do not open any attachments included in emails sent by unknown sources or those flagged as potential phishing emails by security software. Before downloading any attachments, verify they are legitimate by checking with the contact to ensure they had planned to send them to you. If a file appears abnormal when downloaded (e.g., contains strange characters or file types), delete it immediately and take steps to protect your operating system from malicious software infections such as malware and viruses (e.g., install anti-virus software).

Finally, users should remember that credible companies generally do not ask for personal credentials via email – always watch out for these requests! If you ever receive emails asking for sensitive personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers – never click them!

Don’t give out personal information

When protecting yourself from phishing attacks, the most important thing to remember is never to give out personal information to anyone who contacts you online. Fraudulent emails and websites are designed to trick you into providing credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, bank account information and other sensitive data.

Be aware that phishing emails will often attempt to create a sense of urgency or need for immediate action. Examples might include requests for your banking details for a prize redemption or calling attention to an “unusual activity” in your bank account that needs attention “now.” Additionally, many of these emails will contain typos or other mistakes that can indicate that the message is fake. Take time before responding or taking action if you are unsure about an email.

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Be wary of any website asking for personal information without verifying your identity in some way, such as through two-factor authentication or confirmation codes sent via phone call or text message. You should also make sure that any website you are sharing sensitive information with has a secure connection by checking its URL — it should begin with “https://” instead of just “http://” and have a green lock icon next to its address bar at the top left of your browser window. If either of these two indicators is missing then the page may not be secure and it’s best not to enter any sensitive info.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your account, requiring an additional verification beyond the login ID and password when you log in. You will receive a code via text, email or phone call to enter after your initial login information. This provides better protection against phishing attempts as people attempting to access your accounts would need something that you have — like a cell phone — and something that you know — such as your password.

Multi-factor authentication is also available. However, this approach adds more security layers by requiring additional information or physical items such as fingerprint scanners, tokens or cards.

Use anti-phishing software

One of the best ways to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to invest in anti-phishing software. Anti Phishing programs scan the web, emails, and social networks for potential phishing and malicious links. They also give you warnings about suspicious sites and activities.

These warning messages help users to be aware of any potential threats that may occur and can help prevent them from clicking on malicious links or visiting dangerous websites. In addition, anti-phishing software should be installed on all devices that access emails and websites, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs.

By using these types of programs regularly to scan your system, you can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a phishing attack.

Proofpoint sues Facebook to get permission to use lookalike domains for phishing tests

In July 2019, cybersecurity company Proofpoint filed a lawsuit against Facebook for refusing to give the firm permission to use lookalike domains to conduct phishing tests. The lawsuit highlights the need for users to protect themselves from phishing attacks, as cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of proofpoint using Facebook and how users can protect themselves from phishing attacks.

What is Proofpoint?

Proofpoint is a publicly traded cybersecurity company that protects businesses against malicious threats like advanced phishing attacks. Their advanced security solutions help businesses secure confidential information, such as emails and passwords, from being used to illegally intercept traffic or steal user data. In addition to their security solutions, Proofpoint provides services such as incident response, penetration testing and threat intelligence.

The U.S.-based company recently filed a lawsuit against Facebook for alleged violations of its anti-phishing technology patents. Proofpoint claims that Facebook created a system to detect and alert users when malicious links have been received and clicked on within the social media platform’s messaging app, without licensing or obtaining permission from the company first. The lawsuit seeks damages for past infringement and an injunction to prevent Facebook from using the technology without Proofpoint’s authorization.

This case serves as an important reminder of how important it is for consumers to protect themselves online against phishing attacks by understanding what kinds of threats could be lurking in their emails or social media feeds and how they can protect themselves from becoming victims of these types of assaults.

What is the Dispute?

On April 14th, 2021, Proofpoint Inc., a California software company, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Inc. in U.S. District Court in Delaware. Proofpoint claims that Facebook has engaged in a scheme to “unfairly and illegally” exclude competitors from the social media market, particularly its authentication technology which is used to protect users from malicious actors such as hackers and phishers.

Proofpoint’s suit names both Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram as defendants and seeks to enjoin them from concealing the scope of their data-sharing policies and practices, excluding competing solutions from their mobile platform ecosystems (such as mobile app stores), and engaging in “anticompetitive conduct that burdens consumers with restricted choices for social media authentication solutions offered by third-party providers.”

The outcome of this dispute will have implications for users seeking to protect themselves from phishing attacks on social media platforms. If Proofpoint prevails, it could open the door for more competition among rivals offering different authentication services; this would ultimately benefit consumers by creating more sophisticated defences against these cyberattacks.

What is the Outcome?

Recently, the pioneering cyber-security company Proofpoint announced it has filed a lawsuit against Facebook in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit alleges that Facebook has been liable for harm caused by malicious activity on its platform, including phishing.

The litigation follows a string of attacks against users on and off Facebook wherein “bad actors” manipulated victims through malicious links posted on their profiles. These malicious links often contained threatening messages or enticing offers such as gifts or discounts. However, after clicking on the links, victims were prompted to enter personal information used to commit identity theft or trick them into investing money in fake schemes.

Proofpoint contends that these activities are a direct violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which states that Facebook is not liable for any illegal activities conducted through its platform as long as it removes known malignant content from its pages once notified by users or third parties such as Proofpoint. The lawsuit also seeks damages from Facebook for its alleged failure to protect vulnerable users from potential harm due to malicious activity surrounding phishing attacks.

It is unclear how this legal dispute will be resolved and what its outcome will be for both companies and users alike but one thing should remain clear; people should take all necessary steps to protect themselves from malicious links online, inside forums, and across social media platforms like Facebook by always being aware of suspicious content and never click on deceptive links unless they are certain they are safe to use.

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