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Don't Get Hooked: A Phishing Email Survival Guide in the Age of Deception

Don't Get Hooked: A Phishing Email Survival Guide in the Age of Deception
June 04, 2024

Phishing emails have become the bane of our inboxes. These deceptive messages, designed to trick you into revealing personal information or clicking on various links, are getting craftier by the day. Even the most vigilant email users can be fooled by the increasingly sophisticated tactics employed by phishers.

The recent wave of fake job offer emails targeting Glassdoor applicants showcases just about how genuine these attempts have gotten. 

These emails mimic Glassdoor's branding, encryption, and language, making them appear legitimate. The unsuspecting user clicks the link, is prompted to log in with their Facebook credentials, and gets stuck in a login loop. This exposes their Facebook account, potentially compromising ad accounts or payment information linked to it.

So, how do you navigate this treacherous landscape of digital deception? Here's a comprehensive checklist to help you determine if an email is genuine and whether you should click on that enticing link:

1. Scrutinize the Sender's Address: Phishing emails often use email addresses that closely resemble those of legitimate companies. Look for subtle differences, like extra letters, swapped characters, or a different domain extension (.com vs. .net).

2. Beware of Inconsistent Branding:
Genuine companies maintain a consistent brand image across all communication channels. Be wary of emails with logos, fonts, or color schemes that differ from the company's usual style.

3. Suspicious Urgency? Red Flag! Phishing emails often create a sense of urgency to pressure you into clicking before you have a chance to think critically. Avoid emails demanding immediate action or threatening dire consequences for inaction.

4. Unexpected Job Offers? Verify!: Did you actively apply for a position at the company contacting you? If not, treat unsolicited job offers with suspicion. Legitimate companies typically reach out through your existing application or official career pages.

5. Unusual Attachments? Don't Open Them! Unless you're expecting an attachment from the sender, avoid opening unsolicited documents or clicking on embedded links. These can harbor malware that infects your device upon clicking.

6. Hover Over Links Before Clicking: Most email clients display the actual target URL when you hover over a link. Compare it to the displayed text. If they differ, especially if the actual URL leads to a suspicious domain, don't click!

7. Check the Sender's Social Media: Many companies announce job openings on their official social media pages. Check their social media accounts to verify the legitimacy of the email.

8. When in Doubt, Reach Out: If you're unsure about an email's authenticity, contact the company directly through their official website or verified social media channels.

9. The Power of the Crowd: Forums like Reddit and online security communities often have discussions about new phishing scams. Check if others have reported receiving similar emails.

10. Report Phishing Attempts: If you encounter a phishing email, report it to the company being impersonated, your email provider, and relevant anti-phishing organizations. This helps them track and shut down these malicious campaigns.

Have you recently clicked on any of these emails? Tell us on our social media @protectstar on X and Linkedin and @protectstar-inc on Reddit!     

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