The question mostly on the minds of IT admins in organizations globally is ‘what is URL phishing?’ Cybersecurity is always growing and causing more problems to organizations worldwide – ranging from theft of intellectual properties to reputational damage.
By applying sophisticated procedures, cybercriminals have become smarter and creative at tricking victims into clicking, downloading, and opening malicious attachments. When this happens, they get personal data or carry out malware attacks.
What is URL Phishing?
A phishing attack means an attempt to acquire sensitive data like passwords, usernames, and other sensitive information. When this attack occurs, the attacker uses a phishing on a legitimate website to gather these details.
Phishing has become one of the most popular, most damaging, and most effective kinds of attacks used by hackers to gain entry into accounts, steal sensitive information, and scam individuals or businesses.
Our rising reliance on the internet to perform most of our daily activities has given fraudsters with the right avenue to carry out phishing attacks.
3 examples of URL phishing in 2020
1. Berkeley University attack that happened on October 5, 2020
These attacks were simple and targeted, designed to make users interact and build a trusted rapport. The message begins as basic greetings or job offers, and then becomes requests for money or sensitive information.
2. Email Security Notice (Fix security info now) that occurred September 4, 2020
These forms of phishing emails spoofing were sophisticated and targeted and they happened at the security office intending to scare victims trick them to click on a dangerous link.
Take note that the office of the Information Security will not demand you to validate your data through an malicious links sent to your email.
3. Account Irregular Activity Detected on September 3, 2020
These attacks are created to resemble legitimate UC Berkeley IT Client Services email messages, aiming to scare the victim to get them to fill in personal information. A big organization such as the Legitimate UC Berkeley IT departments will never demand your passphrase through your mail.
Top Tips to Detect a Phishing Website
To determine if a website is legitimate, or not, take these steps:
1. Take a look at the URL
First, you need to move your mouse to the URL of the website to ascertain if the web address is valid or not. If you see a padlock symbol in the address bar, and the URL starts with an ‘https’, that means the web address has been encrypted and is secured with an SSL certificate.
Also, pay attention to how the web address is spelt. Fraudsters stick closely to a web address to trick users into thinking they are on an legitimate site. Usually, they make minor alterations to the spelling.
2. Assess site content
Most website owners put a lot of work and thought into designing their sites. They will have sharp graphics, accurate spelling, and grammar, and the entire experience will feel polished.
A phishing website, despite the similarity, will have sub-standard design and overall experience. Also, their web pages may contain spelling errors, broken English, grammatical mistakes, and low-quality pictures.
3. Be sure about the owner of the website
All domains need to register their web addresses. Make use of free services that enable you check who owns the website and when it was created. This will bring up the contact details of the website owner.
4. Read their reviews online
It will benefit you if you do a bit of research on an organization to make sure they are reputable and they claim they say they are. If a site has scammed people previously, those victims will probably share their experiences to warn others.
5. Ensure they have trusted payment options
A trusted website will always accept credit cards or other portals such as PayPal as payment options. If they only accept bank transfer as a payment option, then that might be a red light.
How to Prevent URL Phishing
Nobody will want to fall victim to a URL phishing scam. Such scams will probably go on because they are successful enough for cybercriminals to make great profits. Fortunately, you can avoid such scams by following some tips such as:
1. Keep informed about their techniques
New phishing techniques are being developed all the time. If you don’t stay on top of such attacks, you could easily fall victim to one. Keep your eyes open for information about new phishing tricks.
2. Think before clicking
You can click on links found on legitimate website. However, clicking on malicious links sent from random email addresses isn’t such a good idea. If you are unsure about a link, hover over them to ensure they don’t lead where shouldn’t. A phishing URL may say they are from a trusted organization, but when you click on them, it may lead somewhere else.
3. Use an anti-phishing toolbar
You can customize a lot of the browsers with anti-phishing toolbars. Those toolbars quickly carry out checks on the websites that you are visiting and compare them to known phishing sites.
If you come across a suspicious and fake website, the toolbar will inform you. This will provide an additional layer of protection against phishing scams, and in most cases, it is free.
4. Regularly take a look at your online accounts
If you have an online account you don’t always visit, someone might be using it for other activities. Even if you no longer need that account, check-in once a while. Also, ensure you regularly change your passwords.
5. Keep your browser updated
Most browsers have security patches released regularly. They are released in response to the security loopholes discovered by hackers. Don’t ignore messages asking you to update your browser.
The suggestions found above will help you prevent phishing attacks and reduce the risk your company will be exposed to. If your employees fall victim, they could inadvertently transfer money or reveal important information to attackers.
Implementing security awareness training and combining it with good technological systems is the best way to prevent URL phishing attacks against your business.