From 3-year-old kids to our grannies, everyone uses the internet for one or the other reasons. However, irrespective of age and purpose, everyone who uses it should know how to identify a phishing website. This saves them from getting trapped in consent phishing and other phishing attack types.
According to the FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report, cyberattacks and scams resulted in a total loss of $57 million. This is enough to indicate the alarming situation and the need to check a link for phishing. Emails are one of the most common entry points for fraudsters; hence you should know what to do if you click on a phishing link.
Read on to understand how to identify phishing URLs and even pass on the information to your colleagues, friends, and family members. So, stay till the end to know everything.
What are The Common Characteristics of Phishing Websites?
In March 2022, Hapag-Lloyd, one of the global leaders in container shipping, became the victim of cybercrime as their customers were directed to log in to a copied website that looked exactly like the official website. It gave cybercriminals access to some highly confidential data.
To stay safe from such fraudulent acts, one needs to recognize and avoid email phishing, lest you can afford to end up losing your personal information or money.
Now, before jumping to the main topic, let’s quickly find out the common characteristics of a phishing website.
- A phishing website looks similar to the original one as cybercriminals copy the theme, HTML, CSS information, graphics, and other intricate details.
- It may link some of the pages (like contact us or careers) to those of the original website.
- It often uses the name of the original website.
- It usually has a similar-looking form to gather personal information.
How to Check a Link for Phishing?
Do you know how to check a link for phishing? Well, most of us aren’t aware of how to identify and prevent such cyberthreats.
Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that the global cybersecurity budget will witness a sturdy 15% year-on-year growth between 2021 and 2025.
Well, phishing attacks aren’t going anywhere. Not to worry. We’ll show you how to know if a link is a phishing URL. It’s a cyberawareness must-have in today’s digital era. So let’s see what you can do to save yourself from harm.
1. Check the URL
To learn how to identify phishing URLs, you need to check the authenticity of the web address. If it starts with ‘http://’ instead of ‘https://,’ be cautious. The additional ‘S’ means that the website is encrypted and secured with an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate is like a code that promotes extra security for online communications.
However, nowadays, phishers have also started to use ‘https://,’ so this aspect isn’t a foolproof sign.
Some of the other ways to check for phishing links is to note closely:
- Whether the spelling is correct. Usually, fake websites have an extra letter ‘S’ or ‘A’ in the spelling. For example, www.walmarts.com or www.flipkaart.com.
- If ‘O’ has been replaced with ‘0’ (zero). For example, “www.yah00.com.”
- If the URL has extra or missing characters or symbols. For example, a legitimate URL is www.coca-cola.com (with a hyphen), but the fake one can be www.cocacola.com (without a hyphen).
There are free tools like our Phishing URL Checker that uses advanced machine learning to identify such discrepancies.
2. Compare the Quality of the Content
The original website’s content will be crisp, well-written, and free of any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors. Even if the fake site is a carbon copy of the original one, the visuals might be lower resolution.
3. Check If the Content Is Missing
Do you know how to identify phishing URLs with just a click? Simply go to the “Contact Us” page. If there are no credible contact details, it’s likely a phishing website.
4. Is it Demanding Personal Information?
We often receive emails that direct us to click on the given link. If a pop-up appears asking for personal details like your phone number, email address, password, residential address, banking details, ID number, etc., consider this a red flag.
In this case, always refrain from giving out any sort of information. You can share this piece of advice with acquaintances, work colleagues, and employees who want to learn how to identify a phishing website.
Check out some real-life phishing email examples and learn to identify the red flags.
5. Is it A Non-Secured Website?
At times, we try to visit a website, but we get a security alert—’connection is not secure.’ In such a situation, it’s crucial to understand how to recognize phishing links. First, click on the padlock icon appearing on the left side of the URL.
This way, you can avail yourself of the information related to security certificates and cookies. A cookie is a file in which a user’s data is stored and sent to the website owner.
In most cases, it offers a better user experience; however, phishers often tend to misuse this information.
6. Use a Fake Password
If a suspicious website asks for a password, enter the wrong one. If you still get signed in or see a point indicating you have entered the correct password, then it’s a 100% fake website. This trick can help you escape these social engineering attacks.
7. Check The Payment Method
If a website asks for a direct bank transfer instead of debit cards, credit cards, and payment options like PayPal, you need to be cautious. This may indicate that no bank has approved credit card facilities for the website domain, and they could practice malicious activities.
Especially when spending big sums of money on software-based services whose delivery is not fast, check for a request for a proposal, you can discover more about what is a website RFP, but in short, it is a very important document that virtually all organizations utilize.
How to Report a Phishing Website
Now that you have a fair understanding of how to know if a link is a phishing URL, you should also learn the simple way to report a phishing website.
The global pandemic, series of lockdowns, and rising unemployment have added to scammers’ numbers. Google reported an average of 46,000 new phishing websites every week in 2020.
If you come across any such suspicious websites, go to Google’s Report Phishing page. Simply paste the URL and add any additional information.