In 2013, cybercriminals perpetrated a shocking 1,227 phishing attacks every day, resulting in an estimated total loss of $5.9 billion according to the 2013 EMC Fraud Report. It's therefore crucial to be aware of the latest techniques cybercriminals are using so you don't become a victim.
Phishing is a crime that is relatively cheap and easy to commit that can unfortunately have lucrative results. This makes phishing a popular method for identity theft that will probably not decline anytime in the near future.
A phishing attack is launched when a cybercriminal sends an email to your account claiming to be a legitimate source, such as a bank or online service. The email can look exceedingly authentic and might even provide a link to the supposed company's website. Phishers can buy hosting services that overwrite information onto hijacked websites, and this is where you will be redirected if you click on the link.
The fraudulent website, too, can look safe and real, because criminals often lift actual company logos to strengthen the illusion. The website will typically request that you log into your personal account, prompting you to enter personal information and passwords. The phisher now has access to your secure data and can steal your identity as well as credit card and social security numbers.
The U.S. continues to suffer the most phishing attacks of any country, absorbing 61 percent of all incidents. Canada, the UK, The Netherlands and China were among the other largely targeted countries.
In terms of commercial brands, Apple is the most phished company in the world. In fact, according to the new Global Phishing Survey, 17 percent of phishing ploys from the first half of 2014 were directed at Apple. This is not as surprising as it may initially seem, because Apple's range of products is wide-reaching, making an Apple ID extremely valuable to cybercriminals. With the development of Apple Pay, we are likely to see a rise in attacks in the future.
Phishing attacks can have devastating and have long-term effects on a person's identity and credit, so it's important to stay up-to-date with the latest security news.
There are things you can do to help protect from being the victim of a identity theft. For instance, don't enter personal information into a website that does not encrypt its information. You can tell this by looking at the URL: If it has an HTTPS, then it's secure. If the URL is preceded by only an HTTP, then the site is not encrypted and you should be wary of accessing it.
Just entering a fraudulent website can compromise your security, though, even if you don't enter personal information. It is therefore crucial that you don't click on links sent to you over email. Simply delete suspicious emails or send them to your spam folder. If you think an email might be from a legitimate site, such as your bank, contact that institution to verify its authenticity before moving forward.
To help protect yourself from identity theft, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service that can alert you to certain activity that might indicate fraud. The sooner you can confirm that you have been victimized, the more easily your bank and other institutions can take action to remedy the situation. Another tool that can help protect you is password manager software. It will remember and encrypt your log in information while keeping it available to you for access.