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Beware: Top Phishing Scam Tactics

Top Phishing Scam Tactics

Published On

Bryan Siemon

Bryan Siemon

Phishing, a prevalent hacking technique for over two decades, might seem like old news. However, these fraudulent tactics persist and continue to ensnare more victims than ever before. In an era dominated by digital interactions, the art of phishing has evolved into a sophisticated and prevalent cyber threat. Phishing scams, deceptive attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, continue to plague individuals and organizations worldwide. From emails to text messages and fake websites, these tactics have become increasingly deceptive, making it crucial for everyone to stay vigilant and informed about the most common methods used by cybercriminals.

The evolution of phishing scams has equipped hackers with advanced tools and strategies, enabling them to deceive unsuspecting targets with greater finesse. To safeguard yourself and your data, it’s crucial to understand the methods hackers will use. Here are the top indicators of phishing scams and how to identify and address them:

Phishing scams, deceptive attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, continue to plague individuals and organizations worldwide.

1. Deceptive URLs and Domain Names: We call these malicious links. Fake websites and URLs closely resemble legitimate ones but contain subtle misspellings or extra characters. Hover over links before clicking them to reveal the actual destination. Secure websites typically have “https://” at the beginning of their URL, indicating encryption, while misspelled or suspicious domains might lack this. These links bait curiosity or promise rewards, tricking recipients into clicking or opening attachments. Always exercise caution and verify links before clicking.

2. Password Requests: One of the biggest scams going around is claiming your password expired or needs reset. This coincides with Deceptive URLs and Domain Names. The scammers will send an email that looks like it came from your bank, stock brokerage account, credit card, or something similar. The link in the email can take you to a site that looks like your legitimate account’s website. At this point they try to get your old username and password. Never click the link from your email. Always go directly to the website or call them. Legitimate companies never request sensitive information like passwords via email. Treat such requests as phishing attempts and ignore or block them.

3. Email Spoofing: Hackers manipulate emails to appear from trusted sources, using familiar sender names but incorrect email addresses. Phishers often forge email headers to appear as if they’re from reputable sources like banks, government agencies, or well-known companies. They mimic logos and language, creating a sense of urgency, prompting recipients to click on malicious links or provide personal information. Check the email address carefully. Legitimate sources usually have domain names that match their brand or organization. Always cross-check the sender’s name with their email address before opening.

4. Fake Pop-up Alerts: Phishers often create a sense of urgency or fear to prompt immediate action. They may claim your account is compromised, payments are overdue, or you’ve won a prize, urging you to act quickly. Be cautious of such pressure tactics and verify information independently through official channels.

5. Social Engineering: Phishers exploit psychological manipulation, using information from social media or previous data breaches to personalize their messages. They might refer to personal details or mutual connections to gain your trust. Be wary of unexpected communications asking for sensitive information.

6. Unexpected Emails: Most people have an idea of what emails they commonly get so be aware of unexpected emails. Emails arriving unexpectedly or causing alarm are likely scams. Avoid responding or taking any actions instructed in these emails; instead, verify their legitimacy.

7. Urgency and Fear Tactics: Threatening messages pressuring immediate action, such as closing accounts or legal consequences, aim to induce panic. Phishers often create a sense of urgency or fear to prompt immediate action. They may claim your account is compromised, payments are overdue, or you’ve won a prize, urging you to act quickly. Be cautious of such pressure tactics and verify information independently through official channels.

8. Misspellings and Grammar Errors: We all make these errors so it may seem common, or you may not notice right away. Most of us, when sending out an important email, use spell check and often have our message proofread to make sure there are no mistakes. Scammers are just trying to get the message out to as many people as fast as possible. Phishing emails often contain spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Avoid engaging with such emails and refrain from correcting them.

Tips to Identify and Avoid Phishing Scams:

  • Verify the Source: Scrutinize sender email addresses and URLs. When in doubt, contact the organization directly through official channels.
  • Think Before Clicking: Hover over links to preview destinations. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication: Enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest phishing tactics and educate yourself and your peers about potential threats.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance or report suspicious activity.
  • Use Professional Grade Antivirus software: Accidents happen, clicking on a link before you have a chance to scrutinize it can happen. Free antivirus software may not be enough to save you. We recommend using professional grade antivirus software. This is paid software that gives you added protection.
  • Data Backup Service: Some of the scams out there take over your computer and lock you out. These are usually known as ransomware. Once ransomware takes over, it is hard to break, and the hacker usually demands some form of payment to release your data (and they don’t always release it after payment). To protect yourself from data loss due to scammers or hardware failure, a good backup solution is a must. We recommend that you use a full image back up solution.

As cybercriminals adapt and refine their tactics, staying informed and cautious is pivotal in protecting yourself and your sensitive information. By recognizing these common phishing strategies and employing preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these deceitful schemes. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and safeguard your digital presence. If you are not sure, please don’t hesitate to contact us. One phone call could save you a lot of time and money and help avoid the frustration and embarrassment of being scammed.

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Microsoft Reports Vulnerabilities Impacting Windows and Office Products

Microsoft Vulnerabilities

Published on

July 14, 2023

Bryan Siemon

Bryan Siemon

Microsoft Reports Vulnerabilities Impacting Windows and Office Products

Microsoft is investigating reports of a series of remote code execution vulnerabilities impacting Windows and Office products.

Microsoft reads, “An attacker could create a specially crafted Microsoft Office document that enables them to perform remote code execution in the context of the victim. However, an attacker would have to convince the victim to open the malicious file.

Microsoft has confirmed no less than 132 security vulnerabilities across product lines, including six that fall into the “zero-day” category.

Microsoft suggested these applications would be impacted and is aware of targeted attacks that attempt to exploit these vulnerabilities by using specially crafted Microsoft Office documents.

Office Products include:

– Excel – Publisher – PowerPoint – Word – WordPad – Access – Graph – Visio

An attacker could create a specially crafted Microsoft Office document that enables them to perform remote code execution in the context of the victim. However, an attacker would have to convince the victim to open the malicious file.

SoHo Network Solutions has always encouraged its customers not to open email attachments they do not recognize or expect. Free antivirus solutions are better than nothing, however, they lack centralized management and advanced features that we can provide. Hackers have become more advanced, so more advanced solutions are needed. The good news is that paid professional-grade antivirus software has become more affordable than ever. For $4 a month per computer, you can get the protection needed to help combat these vulnerabilities.

The Technical Details:

The vulnerability is a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability affecting Windows and Office product, CVE-2023-36884, with a CVSS score of 8.3. The targeted attacks exploit these vulnerabilities using specially crafted Microsoft Office documents.” CVE-2023-36884 is as yet unpatched.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please don’t hesitate to call Soho Network Solutions at 717.831.8128. It is recommended you ensure you have all Windows and Office updates and a strong antivirus program.

About SoHo’s Antivirus Solution:

To purchase Professional-Grade Antivirus Software give us a call- 717.831.8128. SOHO Network Solutions offers the Malwarebytes EDR Cloud Managed solution for $4/workstation/month or $48/year.

How does EDR work?

Endpoint detection and response are broadly defined by three types of behavior.

Endpoint management

This refers to EDR’s ability to be deployed on an endpoint, record endpoint data, then store that data in a separate location for analysis now or in the future. EDR can be deployed as a standalone program or included as part of a comprehensive endpoint security solution. The latter has the added benefit of combining multiple capabilities into a single endpoint agent and offering a single pane of glass through which admins can manage the endpoint.

Data analysis

EDR technology can interpret raw telemetry from endpoints and produce endpoint metadata (or cyber threat intelligence) human users can use to determine how a previous attack went down, how future attacks might go down, and actions that can be taken to prevent those attacks.

Threat hunting

EDR scans for programs, processes, and files matching known parameters for malware. Threat hunting also includes the ability to search all open network connections for potential unauthorized access.

Incident response

Incident response refers to EDR’s ability to capture images of an endpoint at various times and re-image or rollback to a previous good state in the event of an attack. EDR also gives administrators the option to isolate endpoints and prevent further spread across the network. Remediation and rollback can be automated, manual, or a combination of the two.

Think of EDR as a flight data recorder for your endpoints. During a flight, the so-called “black box” records dozens of data points; e.g., altitude, air speed, and fuel consumption. In the aftermath of a plane crash, investigators use the data from the black box to determine what factors may have contributed to the plane crash … Likewise, endpoint telemetry taken during and after a cyberattack (e.g. processes running, programs installed, and network connections) can be used to prevent similar attacks.

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