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7 steps to avoid getting hooked by phishing scams

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High-profile hacking attacks might dominate the headlines, but one of the biggest risks to your security isn’t software vulnerabilities or malware—it’s phishing attacks. There were more than 1.2 million phishing attacks last year alone, up 65 percent over 2015, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).

+ Also on Network World: 25% to 30% of users struggle with identifying phishing threats, study says +

Phishing attacks usually come in the form of a fake email that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as your bank, employer or a website you use frequently. The idea is to get you to hand over the keys to your accounts by prompting you to type your login details and password into a fake website front. Victims click the link in an email and get taken to a website that looks just like the real thing, but in reality, it has been created to steal information.

Because phishing attacks target people using sophisticated techniques designed to fool, no business is immune to them. Remember, your cybersecurity is only as strong as the weakest link—your employees. Let’s run through a few important rules that will safeguard you and your business from phishing attacks.

1. Verify requests for sensitive data

If you get an email request for sensitive data, don’t immediately tap reply and hand away access to your account. Make sure it really is a legitimate request from Sharon in accounting or that your supplier needs updated bank details. A quick phone call can save you from a serious data breach. If you insist on emailing, then don’t reply, type the email address in yourself or use your address book.