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Here Phishy, Phishy... Spot Phishing Scams before they get you!

Here Phishy, Phishy... Spot Phishing Scams before they get you!

Phishing (pronounced: fishing) is an attack that attempts to steal your money or your identity by getting you to reveal personal information -- such as credit card numbers, bank information, or passwords -- on websites that pretend to be legitimate. Cybercriminals typically pretend to be reputable companies, friends, or acquaintances in a fake message that contains a link to a phishing website.

Phishing is a popular form of cybercrime because of how effective it is. Cybercriminals have been successful by using emails, text messages, and direct messages on social media or in video games to get people to respond with their personal information. The best defense is awareness and knowing what to look for.

Here are some ways to recognize a phishing email:

  • Urgent call to action or threats - Be suspicious of emails or chat (Teams. Slack) messages that claim you must click, call, or open an attachment immediately. Often, they'll claim you have to act now to claim a reward or avoid a penalty. Creating a false sense of urgency is a common trick of phishing attacks and scams. They do that so that you won't think about it too much or consult with a trusted advisor who may warn you. Tip: Use the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. method of evaluation to asses information. Whenever you see a message calling for immediate action, take a moment, pause, and look carefully at the message. Are you sure it's real? Would Jennifer ask you to buy her an iTunes gift card? Would Jeremy email you from his personal email account to ask for the account information? Slow down and be safe.

  • First time, infrequent senders, or senders marked [External] - While it's not unusual to receive an email, Teams, or Slack message from someone for the first time, especially if they are outside your organization, this can be a sign of phishing. STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Slow down and take extra care at these times. When you get an email or a Teams message from somebody you don't recognize or that Outlook or Teams identifies as a new sender take a moment to examine it extra carefully using some of the measures below. STCNtech can help secure your organization by putting in a system that marks many messages so you can be thoughtful of them.

  • Spelling and bad grammar - Remember that many companies and organizations that are marketing to you usually have some level of writing or marketing expertise, and they work to ensure customers get high-quality, professional content. If an email message has obvious spelling or grammatical errors, it might be a scam. These errors are sometimes the result of awkward translations from a foreign language, and sometimes, they are deliberate in an attempt to evade filters that try to block these attacks. Be aware of the RISE OF AI in this area. ChatGPT can often overcome this obstacle by creating reasonable human-looking emails - STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

  • Generic greetings - An organization that works with you should know your name and these days, it's easy to personalize an email. If the email starts with a generic "Dear sir or madam," that's a warning sign that it might not really be your bank or shopping site.

  • Mismatched email domains - If the email claims to be from a reputable company, like Microsoft or your bank, but the email is being sent from another email domain like, or it's probably a scam. Also, be watchful for very subtle misspellings of the legitimate domain name. Like where the second "o" has been replaced by a 0, or, where the "m" has been replaced by an "r" and a "n". These are common tricks of scammers. By working with STCNtech, we can add our Security as a Service platform and help weed out personality spoofers from your email and keep

  • Suspicious links or unexpected attachments - If you suspect that an email message or a message in Teams is a scam, don't open any links or attachments that you see. Instead, hover your mouse over it, but don't click the link. Look at the address that pops up when you hover over the link. Ask yourself if that address matches the link that was typed in the message. In the following example, resting the mouse over the link reveals the real web address in the box with the yellow background. The string of numbers looks nothing like the company's web address.

Tip: On Android long-press the link to get a properties page that will reveal the true destination of the link. On iOS do what Apple calls a "Light, long-press".

  • Cybercriminals can also tempt you to visit fake websites with other methods, such as text messages or phone calls. If you're feeling threatened or being pressured, it may be time to hang up, find the phone number of the establishment, and call back when your head is clear. Sophisticated cybercriminals set up call centers to automatically dial or text numbers for potential targets. These messages will often include prompts to get you to enter a PIN or some other type of personal information.

Do you think your organization needs a security audit? Contact the experts at STCNtech -- we can check out your ship from stem to stern and let you know where you are doing great, and where you might have to reinforce the bulkheads! Our Security as a Service platform can save you headaches, time, and money! Contact us at or 610-910-9347 today!

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