Monday, September 25, 2023

10 things you should do immediately if you clicked on a fake link

ESET, a computer security company, shares 10 useful tips to act quickly if you realize you’ve taken the bait and become a victim of a phishing email.

A popular tactic used by scammers in large-scale fraud campaigns is to exploit current events. For example, what appeared to be an email from Britain’s National Health Service offering a free COVID-19 test was actually a way to obtain victims’ personal information through a fake form.

“It only takes a few moments to become a victim of a scam, and not even IT professionals are exempt from this risk.” All you receive is a seemingly innocuous email with a link that you must click “before it’s too late is”. But what if immediately afterwards you feel uneasy and you realize that it was all a scam?” says Camilo Gutiérrez Amaya, head of the ESET Latin America Research Laboratory.

ESET offers 10 tips on what to do after you take the bait:

  • Do not share any further information: Suppose you receive an email from an online store telling you that, although it raises some suspicions, without much thought or curiosity, you clicked on the attached link and it leads to a website that seems legitimate, the doubt remains. The easiest way is to avoid sharing additional information: do not enter login details, do not provide bank details or other data of equal sensitivity. If the fraudsters were just after the data and didn’t tamper with the device with malware, there’s a good chance you’ll avoid the bait or get away scot-free.
  • Disconnect the device from the internet: Some phishing attacks may result in you being granted access to your computer, cell phone, or other device. They can deploy malware, collect personal or device information, or gain remote control. In order to contain damage, quick action is essential. The first thing you need to do is disconnect the device from the internet. If you are using a wired PC, simply unplug it. If you are connected via Wi-Fi, disable this connection in the device settings or enable the Airplane Mode feature.
  • Backup data: Disconnecting the Internet connection prevents more data from being sent to the malicious server, but the data is still at risk. Files should be backed up, especially sensitive documents or files with high personal value, such as photos and videos. Backing up data after it has been compromised can be risky because it may already have been compromised by malware.

Instead, files should be backed up regularly and preventively. If malware infects the device, data can be recovered from an external hard drive, USB stick, or cloud storage service.

  • Scan for malware and other threats: Run a full scan of the device with anti-malware software from a trusted provider while the device is not connected to the Internet. Ideally, you should perform a second scan, for example with ESET’s free online scanner. Download the scanner to your computer or a separate device, such as a Download a device such as a USB hard drive that you can plug into the infected computer and install the software from there.

Do not use the device during the scanning process and wait for the results. If the scanner finds suspicious files, follow its instructions to remove them. If the scanning process does not identify any potential risks but you still have concerns, contact your security provider.

  • Consider a factory reset: Factory reset restores the phone to its original state by deleting all installed apps and files. However, some types of malware may persist on the device even after a hard reset. However, wiping the mobile device or computer will most likely successfully remove all threats. Remember that a factory reset is irreversible and will delete all locally stored data. The importance of regular backups cannot be overemphasized.
  • Reset passwords: Phishing emails can trick you into revealing sensitive information such as ID numbers, bank and credit card details, or login details. If this is believed to be the case, especially if the phishing emails ask for a specific username – for example in a LinkedIn scam – you should change your login details immediately, and even more so if the same password is reused will have multiple accounts such as email, online banking and/or social networks.

These situations highlight the importance of using unique usernames and passwords across different online services. Using the same credentials for multiple accounts makes it easier for attackers to steal personal information or money.

  • Contact banks, authorities and service providers: If you have provided bank or credit card information or provided access information to a card access website, you must immediately contact the entity providing that information. You can block or freeze the card to prevent future fraud and minimize financial damage. Check whether your bank (or payment processor) has a refund policy for fraud victims. To prevent others from falling for this scam, also notify your local authorities.
  • Spot the differences: If criminals gain access to one of your devices or accounts, they may change your login details, email addresses, phone numbers, or anything else that can help them gain a foothold on the account and take over it for a longer period of time. Check social media activity, banking information and order history for your online purchases. For example, if you spot a payment that seems strange, unknown, or unauthorized, report it, change your credentials, and request a refund if necessary.
  • Search for unrecognized devices: If hackers have stolen your account information, they will likely try to log in from your own device. Most social media platforms record logged in sessions in their privacy settings. Perform this check and force logout on any unknown device.
  • Notify friends, contacts, service providers and employers: Sometimes scammers use the contact list in a compromised account to distribute phishing or spam links. Keep this in mind and take steps to prevent others from falling for the same scam.

If a cyberattack targets company-provided work accounts or devices, follow the rules and notify IT immediately. Major email services such as Outlook or Gmail also offer tools that allow you to report phishing emails directly from your inbox.

“If you take the bait and click on a phishing link, you may feel embarrassed or even alarmed, but this type of threat is becoming increasingly common.” In fact, hundreds of thousands of people get it every year in the United States alone, and the Number increases. If you stay calm and follow the advice above, you will stay one step ahead of the threats you may face,” says Gutiérrez Amaya of ESET Latin America.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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