How to Identify Phishing Emails

On this week’s episode of Ctbersafe with Sisi Nerd, we’re looking at how to identify Phishing emails.

Phishing, the act of impersonating a trusted entity in electronic communication, isn’t going away anytime soon. The ease of use, almost universal ubiquity of Email communication, and endless possibility of potential targets have made Email Phishing a mainstay of cybercriminals.

While phishing remains constant, the method and tricks used by cybercriminals will always be evolving. Despite this, the fundamental psychological principles will always remain the same.

Hence, conditioning yourself psychologically is your first line of defense. Here are a few psychological principles to keep in mind whenever you’re dealing with Email whether through a PC or Mobile Device.

  1. Scarcity

This is the principle that if something is made less available or is scarce, the value increases. Cybercriminals can use this in phishing Emails, for example, offering a well sought-after item at a reduced price with the heading “Only two left to go.” By getting their targets to focus on the perceived scarcity of the item, they can get them to take actions they would normally be skeptical about doing.

2. Urgency

This is the principle that if a time constraint is applied, people are more likely to act. Just imagine receiving an email from your bank telling you that the card you intend to use for some urgent shopping will be locked down in the next 24 hours unless you perform a series of actions or click a link. Most people would comply, and that is why using urgent language in phishing emails is a favorite of cybercriminals.

3) Authority

This is the principle that people are more likely to perform an action if it comes from someone in a position of authority. Imagine an accountant receiving an email from his CEO asking him to transfer money to a certain account. He is more likely to perform this action since it is coming from the CEO as opposed to another colleague. This is why cybercriminals love to impersonate people in authority.

We ask that whenever you access an Email client whether on a mobile device or PC that you have these psychological principles at the back of your mind. Learn to approach all emails with all your mental faculties fully engaged as opposed to being distracted. This will help you quickly spot when something fishy is at play.

Watch this week’s episode to get more tips on how to spot phishing emails.

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