Phishing scams are extremely widespread these days. This scam consists of hackers tricking users into clicking on phishing links in order to steal their personal information. Such frauds target a large number of corporate employees and people’s personal emails every day.
It’s critical to understand what to do if you accidentally click on a phishing link, the risks of opening spam emails with spam links in them, and the dangers of opening unfamiliar email attachments. What if you clicked on a phishing link?
What Happens if You Click On A Phishing Link?
By clicking on a phishing link or opening an attachment, you risk infecting your device with malware and viruses. This is all done behind the scenes, so the average user won’t notice. Now, what happens if you accidentally click on a phishing link? In one scenario, the link might redirect you to a malicious website. Then, the site might use keyloggers to harvest your personal details. In another scenario, a background download might nestle a malicious program. This download can also lead to a myriad of developments like ransom demands, man-in-the-middle attacks, spyware, and other issues.
The general rule of thumb is to check the phishing URL with a special tool before clicking it. Still, everyone makes mistakes. What if you’ve already been redirected? Following the steps below will help you stop or reduce the damage.
What to Do If You Click on a Phishing Link?
Despite the sophisticated and convincing nature of these emails, there are still several telltale signs that you’re dealing with a phishing email – threatening language, a generic greeting, poor grammar, spelling errors, a misaligned URL, reward claims, or a request for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never send you an email or text asking you to enter or update personal information by clicking on a link.
If you doubt at all that the link is going to lead you to a malicious website, check the URL for phishing first. Find a proper phishing URL checker tool and let it do its thing before interacting with the link.
However, if you’ve accidentally clicked on a phishing link or downloaded a malicious attachment, there are a few things to do right away to protect yourself.
Disconnect Your Device
The first and most critical thing you should do is disconnect your device from the internet right away. The best approach to do this is to unplug your computer or laptop’s internet Wi-Fi. If you’re connected through a Wi-Fi network, go to your Wi-Fi settings and disconnect from the current network or switch off your router’s power. This will help to prevent malware from propagating to other devices on your network and prevent an attacker from gaining access to your device.
After you have unplugged your device from the internet, you’ll need to back up your data. Data can be lost or deleted in the aftermath of a phishing attempt, so maintain backups of all your documents and sensitive information, as well as personal assets like family photos and videos.
Data can be saved on an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, or in the cloud. Offline backups will ensure that you do not lose any personal files in the event of a cyberattack.
Scan System for Malware
The next step is to use anti-virus software to scan your computer for infection. You must first start the application and do a comprehensive system scan. If you get an error notice saying you can’t run the scan because you’re not connected to the internet, ignore it. You’ll be able to run a scan even if you’re not connected to the internet. Because staying connected to the internet increases the risk of malware spreading across the network, it’s critical to stay offline.
Allow your device to scan without interrupting this process. When the scan is finished, you’ll be told if any suspicious files were discovered and given the option to delete or quarantine them. You can do the scan yourself using a reputable Anti-Virus software application, or you can take your device to a professional to ensure it is properly cleared of any potential infection.
Change Your Password
A phishing attack’s main goal is to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other sensitive data. Malware is frequently included in phishing links because it harvests and stores data for an attacker.
If you’ve input any personal information, you should change it as quickly as possible from a system that hasn’t been compromised. All internet accounts, such as email, social media, and banking, will be affected.
By using the same password for many accounts, you make it easier for hackers to acquire access to your data. Make each account’s password unique, or use two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security.
Setup Two-Factor Authentication
The two-factor authentication can be done in a number of ways. Register for two-factor authentication if it is available on your account. This adds another degree of security to your account. In addition, if a hacker tries to get access to your account, you will be notified.
Enable Web Content Filtering
If you’ve clicked on a phishing link, you should enable security settings that protect you from dangerous links. If phishing emails continue to arrive in your mailbox, online content screening should be enabled. Even if you accidentally click on a link, your browser will prohibit the dangerous site from infecting your device with malware. Web content filtering is a proactive method for detecting and preventing phishing scams.
Clean Browser Data and Switch Off Extra Accounts
Clear the cache and cookies in your browser as well. Close any accounts that you aren’t using. This is because such accounts can be used as attack ports by an attacker.
Report Spam Email
You train your account spam filter to avoid getting spam emails in the primary inbox by reporting spam emails. Consequently, the domains and emails used for phishing scam will end but in lists called “Blacklist” that will inform all mail service providers of the dangers and unwelcome emails they send. The list of Blacklisted domains prevents such email from getting delivered to inboxes and makes sure they bounce.
Best Practices to Protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks
You should additionally follow the following steps in addition to the above-mentioned rapid tips:
- Make sure your computer’s software and security are up to date
- Use passwords that are difficult to guess.
- Change the passwords on any accounts you suspect are compromised
- Use different passwords for different accounts
- Use two-factor authentication
- Backup your files to a secure backup device on a regular basis (ideally one which is not continuously connected to your network)
Nowadays, phishing emails have become a severe but inescapable hazard. Your best defense is to err on the side of caution and check the URL for phishing before you click it. In case of attachments and other suspicious activity, deleting suspicious emails or text messages is a wise choice. Remember that a genuine organization or business will never ask you to disclose sensitive, personal information via insecure channels such as email, text messaging, or pop-ups. If the message is crucial, the sender will make an effort to contact you via confirmed channels like phone or letter.