Phishing and email scams are some of the most considerable security challenges for both individuals and organizations. A report by Google found that the number of phishing websites increased by 350%, from 149,195 in January 2020 to more than 522,495 two months later. The coronavirus pandemic has given more opportunities to scam people into getting their money.
According to the CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute), attackers are pretending to be social health workers or from the NHS. They are sending emails to people with URL links to apply for a vaccine and end up stealing their personal details, including bank details. Therefore, make sure to stay up to date with the latest news regarding cybercrime on VPNRanks to protect your online privacy.
Common Email Scam Trends to Look out for in 2021
In light of such malicious activities, we bring you the 5 most common types and trends of email scams and phishing attacks that you need to look out for in 2021. We will also discuss some of the tips and tricks to help you stay protected against such scams.
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1. Deceptive Emails
This is by far the most common type of email scam used by cybercriminals. In this type, you will receive an email from a person impersonating to be a legitimate company with a perfectly composed background. These emails use a sense of urgency to make people do what they want, like signing up for something to steal login credentials and bank accounts.
According to Retruster, in 2019, phishing was responsible for almost 90% of data breaches. To protect yourself from such scams, make sure to check all the URLs added in the email carefully and see if it redirects to an unknown website. Similarly, check for any grammatical mistakes or spelling errors.
2. Fake Domain Names with Typos
Another recent email scam trend has been the use of fake domain names with typos. Attackers send emails with domain names that resemble the name and URL of a genuine site. It is possible to register domain names with typos as a variant of another domain. This technique is so foolproof that even if you hover over the link, it will show the original link of a famous site.
Therefore, to protect yourself, always inspect the link. If you are using Gmail, it is very easy. Just click on the three ellipses on the top right corner of the email, and select Show Original. It will open a new tab, where you will be able to see all the details regarding the URLs and email addresses.
3. Spear Emails
In this type of email scam, emails are sent from a recognized sender. It is very personal as it includes the target’s name, position, phone number, etc., to trick the target into thinking that they have a connection with the sender to form a bond of trust. It also includes a URL or attachment that requires personal information to sign up for and access.
To avoid this scam, companies need to train their employees and make sure no corporate or personal information is uploaded on any social media platform, especially LinkedIn. You can also invest in a malware detection solution for your company to check all inbound emails for possible malicious links.
Whaling, also known as a business email compromise (BEC) scam, has been quite a trend in recent years. In this technique, the attackers take hold of the email account of a supplier or a vendor. This way, it appears that the emails are sent from a trusted partner. Most of the time, the attackers also do a follow-up call after sending the email to confirm.
BEC scams are also used to make online transactions as attackers send fake wire transfer requests to the management. To avoid whaling scams, companies need to train their employees and executives with security awareness. Organizations should also opt for multi-factor authentication (MFA) for their financial authorization process. This way, no one will be able to authorize payment transfers via email.
Another trick used by attackers is that they send emails to targets with no URL links. Instead, it includes a CTA which simply says, “Click here.” This way, the scammers hide their links in the button, so the receiver doesn’t see much information to inspect. The only way to see the contents is to click the button with the URL, and once you do that, you are hooked.
One trick to help you save from this email scam is that when you hover the cursor over the button, you can see the URL on the bottom left corner of your screen. Once you see the URL, you can inspect whether it is genuine or fake. If you think your email address has been compromised, you can always check online.
Protect Yourself Against Scams
These are some of the most common email scam trends you need to look out for in 2021. With the tips and tricks mentioned above, you can quickly spot and avoid email scams. However, keep in mind that phishing is evolving, and cybercriminals are using new techniques to attack people.