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Some of our customers have recently reported to us that they are receiving emails warning them that their email accounts will be terminated unless they take immediate action to verify their accounts. These emails are phishing emails and can safely be ignored.
Phishing is a scam which targets users via email, text or telephone messages in an attempt to lure a victim into revealing sensitive data, such as personally identifiable data, banking and card details, usernames and passwords for websites, etc.
This particular phishing scam doing the rounds at the moment is targeting the email addresses for various domain names in an attempt to extract passwords connected to the targeted accounts. One example is shown below:
The Email headers show the email as being sent from the target domain. This is a technique known as “Email Spoofing“.
Email Spoofing is the forgery of an email header so that the message appears to have been sent from someone/somewhere other than the actual source. This is a common tactic used for spam and phishing emails with the hope that the email looks official enough that the recipient will trust and follow any links within the email, or download any email attachments.
If anyone clicks on the link contained within the email message they are sent to a basic “login” page which they hope looks officious, as can be seen in the screenshot below:
Note that in the address bar, the domain is completely unrelated to the email address account being used in the phishing scam. In this case the scammers have opted to use a Free Web Hosting account.
If a user inserts a password this is then sent to the scammer alongside the related email address that was targeted.
The scammer is hoping to gain access to email accounts and any websites that are registered using the targeted email address.
3 Tips to avoid Phishing scams
Unfortunately there is no simple method to spotting a phishing scam, however most phishing attempts contain red flags which warns a user that the email they have received is suspicious and/or malicious:
- The email urges you to take immediate action
As our example shows, the user receiving the email was urged to quickly verify their account or face their email account being terminated. Of course there ids a chance you may receive an official email urging immediate action from your bank or an online account, so the rule of thumb is never to click the link in the email, always go to the account in question directly, login through the official website and check your account status.
- The email has spelling mistakes or is filled with improper grammar
This is a very common mistake in scam emails. Legitimate organisations will have editors and reviewers to check their marketing emails carefully before sending it out, so always check suspicious emails in details for spelling and grammar mistakes.
- The URL contained in the email
Usually these types of phishing emails will have a hyperlink text link which may be the name of a legitimate bank, or other company, but when you hover your mouse over the text link you may discover that the URL differs from the domain they claim to be sending from. As in our example, the email claimed to be from [redacted].org but when visited was to a sub-domain of a free web host. Likewise, always double-check the from field as this can give the game away unless the scammer is spoofing the email headers, as in the example above.
A more comprehensive list of tips can be found at Phishing.org – 10 Ways to Avoid Phishing Scams