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Swimming with the phishes: what a phishing scam will do to you

by Norton-Team

Phishing can sometimes be dismissed as a less serious type of cybercrime but it can have devastating effects on people’s lives. How much damage could a scammer seriously do with some login details or some random personal information, you ask? Well, a lot as it turns out.

The reality is that innocent people can have their lives ruined, their money stolen or their online accounts ransacked by cyber criminals. Phishing usually involves a fake email or message that tries to get you to share sensitive details, password and login details, or to install malware.

Here are just some of the things could happen to you if you fall for a phishing scam.

Identity theft

Simply handing over your bank account login and password could set off a chain of events that leads to identity theft. Getting access to one account allows hackers to glean more information about a victim – which can be used to open new accounts in your name.

Your online accounts contain more sensitive information than you think. Criminals can also use the likes of LinkedIn or Twitter to access your publicly available details to fill in the gaps. Being able to get into one or two accounts could easily allow a scammer to unearth details like your national insurance number, date of birth, address and more.

Alternatively, they could get you to download spyware and use it to track everything you do on your computer, giving them access to all your logins, passwords and sensitive information. You may not even realise that anything is wrong as they harvest your computer for all sorts of information.  

Take over your accounts

Most of us have a whole other digital life that we’ve cultivated over a number of years. All it takes is for someone to get access to your email and they can suddenly change your social media account logins and lock you out.

If they do, you may have more than FOMO to worry about. They could target all your contacts with scams, use your account to spread spam or carry out other activities that could seriously damage.

Install malware

Phishing is a common way of getting people to install malicious software. This is often done using a malicious link, an infected attachment or by posing as a legitimate download from a trusted third party.

Always be wary of any unsolicited emails asking you to open an attachment, click on a link or to install any software. Some of these scams can look very convincing so it pays to step back and consider the situation before taking any action.

You could easily find your computer locked by ransomware, spying on you using spyware, or infected with a keylogger that tracks everything you type. Having good security software can obviously help to protect you from these types of infections but being vigilant and staying aware of the risks is one of the best ways to stay safe.

Sell your information

The problem with having your personal data stolen or your computer hijacked by malware is that you can’t be sure what the criminals will do with it. It could be sold on to outside parties, who could then use it for illegal purposes. You could find your identity being used in a scam, fake bank accounts in your name, or your computer being used as a part of a DDoS attack.

That’s a whole lot of bad is what we’re saying! Check out our infographic for more info on phishing and what it can do to you:

This entry was posted on Fri Oct 07, 2016 filed under online safety , online security and online threats

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