There were 44 thousand reported phishing incidents in Australia last year, making this online scam a very real threat.
In this article, we will teach you to recognise scam links and show you what to do if you click on a phishing link.
What is Phishing?
A type of cybercrime, phishing involves cybercriminals sending an email (or a phone call or text) masquerading as a trusted source in order to obtain sensitive information.
How Do I Know If I Clicked On a Phishing Link?
Here are some of the warning signs connected to phishing links:
- Different sender/domain URL—hover over the link you’re guided to, and if it doesn’t match the sender’s URL, don’t click on the link.
- Suspicious requests—don’t click on links asking you for information sites don’t normally want, such as login credentials, usernames and passwords. In fact, don’t provide any sensitive data online.
- Unusual greetings or language that is too formal or too casual—Emails that don’t use your first name, are riddled with grammar and punctuation mistakes or refer to some internet activity you don’t recall making, like buying something, are usually connected to phishing attacks.
- Unexpected results —You followed the guide, entered the requested information, but nothing seems to be happening. Well, sorry to tell you, but malicious ransomware is probably being installed in the background. Also, be on the lookout for links that urge you to take some kind of action, like visiting certain websites, redeeming a code or claiming a giveaway.
- Suspicious Attachments—Even though this type of fraud usually ends up in the spam folder, you should still avoid clicking on attachments from unknown senders.
I Accidentally Clicked on a Spam Link. Now What?
Not to worry, these are the steps to take:
1. Disconnect from the internet
By doing this, you’re cutting off the access to the cybercriminal, as well as isolating your device and stopping the malware from spreading onto other devices on your network.
2. Backup your files
This serves several purposes. You are protecting your sensitive data from becoming infected with ransomware, but you are also making sure that none of the information of files gets lost when you remove the malware from your device. Consider using an external hard drive, a USB thumb drive or cloud storage (if you haven’t so far) to back up your files and keep them out of harm’s way.
3. Start a scan
Scanning your device for malware is the next step. Either use your existing antivirus software to carry out the scan or take the device to a professional (if computers are not your forte). If you don’t have antivirus software already installed, don’t reconnect to the net to download one. Use a different device to connect to the internet and download the installation pack on a thumb drive. Just make sure to format the removable USB drive immediately after using it on the infected device.
4. Change your login credentials
Reset all your passwords on shopping sites, social media, online bank accounts—the works. Changing passwords from time to time is recommended anyway, but doing it after you click on a phishing link may help protect some of your personal data and information.
5. Report the attack
By acting, you’ll prevent further attacks from happening. Contact the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) to fill out a form and report the online attack.
What Happens if You Click on a Phishing Link on Your Smartphone?
Just like on laptops and PCs, phishing links can infect your smartphone with malware. The risk may even be higher since phishing links can be found in emails, phone calls and text messages.
Some of the effects you might see include malfunctioning apps, slower performance, or unnecessary apps installed. Malware on your smartphone can also drain the battery or use up your mobile data.
If you clicked on a phishing link on your iPhone, try to identify which accounts have been targeted and change the passwords. Remember that thanks to Apple’s built-in protection, your data won’t be exposed until you open a website or an app, so if you think that there is anything suspicious, stop interacting with the link immediately.
Android devices are more prone to viruses and malware in general, so opening a phishing link on these phones puts you more at risk. If you do click on a phishing URL, delete any suspicious files, change all passwords (just in case) and run a malware scan using a trusted antivirus Android software.
The Best Antivirus for Phishing Protection
Norton 360 Deluxe
A$69.99 for the first year
Bitdefender Total Security
A$59.99 for the first year
Kaspersky Internet Security
A$64.95 for the first year
How to make sure that you are not a victim of email phishing or other online scams? First off, never, ever click on links in emails or texts that come from unknown senders. Never share personal and sensitive information online, such as bank account numbers and passwords. Invest in good quality, reliable antivirus software.
Taking precautions like these can go a long way towards staying safe on the net.
1. What happens when you get phished?
If you click on a scam link, you could be tricked into revealing personal information to cybercriminals, such as your bank account and credit card numbers. In some instances, a phishing message could also attempt to install malware on your device.
2. Should I reset my phone if I clicked on a phishing link?
Yes, restraining the phone after you have disconnected from the internet and removed all unknown apps is a good idea. After that, scan the device for malware or even set it on automatic scans (if available) to make sure you are protected in the future.
3. What is URL phishing?
Also known as phishing websites or fake websites, URL phishing involves hackers using fake URLs to get sensitive information, such as financial details, passwords and usernames. They usually send phishing emails directing users to a website where they will be asked to share that information.
4. How do I stop phishing emails?
The first step would be to install a solid antivirus solution that comes with phishing protection. You could also consider a product that has some extra features such as website filtering, safe mode options and email monitoring.
Keep in mind, though, that the best course of action is prevention. For that reason, you should become familiar with what phishing is and what to do if you click on a phishing link either on your phone or laptop.