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Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash
Just last week, I almost fell victim to a phishing scam.
Someone emailed me, pretending to be a trusted colleague, and tried to convince me to buy them hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards. Luckily, I thought something smelled fishy (pause for laughter!) and was able to reveal the truth before making a huge mistake.
This left me feeling violated, to say the least. In an industry built on relationships, this scam felt like a personal attack on the relationship I have built with my colleague. I spent a few hours believing it was real, and found myself doubting my gut instinct telling me there was no way my colleague would approach me with such a big ask.
After having this experience, I thought it would be helpful to have a refresher on some simple ways to avoid phishing:
- Get all the security! If you’re one of those people who hate updating your computer or you don’t have a plan in place for threat protection, now might be a good time to look into it. It’s easier to avoid phishing if the emails don’t even show up in your inbox in the first place.
- Don’t click on weird links. I used to work for a global tech company that regularly sent phishing “pop quizzes” to the employees. Once, they sent an email with a link saying it had the updated holidays for the year. Without thinking, I raced to open it – as did another few hundred employees. It was a sneaky phishing link in disguise, and we all had to sit through another internet security training as a result. Make sure you look at any link before opening; it could save you some pain in the long run!
- Trust your gut. If you get an email that sounds too good to be true – or so weird you hope it’s not true – take a minute to second guess it. If you get an email from your “boss” but under an email you don’t recognize, listen to your gut before replying. This is especially important for sharing personal information – ALWAYS make sure you know who you are sending it to!