Look at the HUGE smile on the face of the fisherman in the photo accompanying this post! He had every reason to have that smile. He had gone fishing in St. Mary’s County, Maryland and caught the trophy fish! He had to work to bring it in. The photo of him with the big grin, holding the fish, may well have been framed and hung in his den at home.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of “phishermen” (note the spelling) active today. In all likelihood, you and I will receive at least one email today that is dangerous. The “phisherman” on the other end of that email will have the same big grin on his face every time someone clicks on the email. However, his grin will be wicked and he will not have been forced to exert one bit of honest effort to catch us.

If not today, at sometime this week, you will receive an email that looks official! It will probably have something that looks like the official company logo on it. As of this morning, I have emails that appear to be from Facebook, two banks with which the Pension Plan does business, and PayPal all present among legitimate emails. Each of these emails is a fake. On the other end, there is someone hoping I will put a wicked grin on their face and all of my data at their disposal.

As the world has become more in tune with digital transfer of cash and data, we have become familiar with Google CAPTCHA images used to verify that someone submitting a form is a genuine individual, not a bot. Because we are familiar with the Google CAPTCHA system, phishers and hackers are using fake images in their attacks on our data.

Here are two ideas on how to protect our data from the phishers with the evil grin:

  • Look at who originally sent the email and where the link will take you if you click on it. Some of the phishers have been very crafty. They were able to get a friend of yours to click, and now they have their information. The email also grabbed your friend’s emails and then sent the same email out without their knowledge. The phishers were even crafty enough to have the email look like it was coming from you to you! I have received a lot of these! You can also hover your cursor over the link included in the email and reveal the address the link will use.
  • Do not click on any link in any email about you and your information. Even if you think something looks legitimately like an email from your bank, credit card company, etc. do not click on it. If you think the email is legitimate, use your web browser or your company’s app on your smartphone. Log into your account directly. This requires a few more seconds. This is not a convenient, but it cuts short any phisher’s attempt to acquire your data.

All of the phishers lead us to be a bit skeptical of things we see in any email. Yes, it is frustrating. Yes, it may cause us to yearn for older days when things were a less complicated, even if they were less convenient. While we cannot eliminate every phishing attack, we can do our best to turn the phisherman’s evil grin into a frustrated frown!

Here is to employing and enjoying all of the advantages that technology brings to our life while maintaining our data safely in our possession!