Phishing scams are one of the most common and devastatingly effective cyber-attacks one can suffer. The effectiveness of phishing scams lies in their simplicity, as well as their unerr-ing ability to prey on the weak spots of human nature. 

In fact, a phishing scam is little more than a conventional con, in which a con artist disguis-es themselves in plain sight, posing as a trustworthy person to catch you off guard and target your blind spots without you knowing.

Sadly, despite their simplicity, phishing scams consistently find victims, because they are incredibly difficult to spot, especially if you are distracted or simply a trusting person. 

Although it is bad enough if you personally fall victim to a phishing scam, it is arguably far worse to let it happen to your business - whether you work for it or own it. 

This is because, if you work within an organization, you could unwittingly let a scammer in-side the company via your email contacts, passwords and company data on your device. Naturally, this is not good news for you or your company, so it is critical that you under-stand what a phishing scam is and how you can prevent it from happening.

Here is what you need to know

What are phishing scams?

A phishing scam, as referenced above, is a malicious e-mail, text message or social media direct message that poses as a respected stranger (such as a bank manager, investment expert or local government official) who tricks you into giving them your sensitive data - such as your bank details. 

Thankfully, these messages are usually put straight in the spam folder, but occasionally they sneak through because even your e-mail or social media platform algorithm is tricked by the scammer’s realism. You can visit the Proofpoint website to read more about phish-ing scams.

Why do people still fall victim to phishing attacks?

You might think that you would never fall for a phishing scam, because they are easy to spot and you would never be careless enough to hand over your details.

However, in reality, it doesn’t really work like that. 

While you may come across phishing scams from time to time and manage to see them for what they are, if you are stressed, preoccupied or actively seeking what the phishing scammer is offering (an insurance payout or tax rebate, for example), then you may well give out your details before you’ve properly thought about what you are doing. This is a basic human flaw that everyone shares, and phishing scammers know it. This is why it is crucial to be incredibly vigilant when online, in order to avoid being tricked. 

How can you protect yourself from phishing scams?

No one is 100 per cent safe from phishing scams, but once you know exactly what to watch out for, you stand a fighting chance of keeping yourself and any organization you are involved in safe. 

The trick is always to double check before engaging with an email that you suspect is a scam. If the scammer poses as your bank, then ring the bank and ask them if there is any-thing amiss. Remaining alert and always double checking is the best way of keeping your-self and anyone on your e-mail list or social media account safe. 

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