Hacking (or phishing as they are sometimes known) attempts are usually successful when the criminal tricks the victim. This is also known as social engineering, which is a ruse that employs social methods, rather than technical ones. Whether it’s by clicking a link, or even unwittingly giving the criminal something of value.
One of the most recent developments of this is the gift card scam. This is when the victim is contacted by someone purporting to be some one he knows to purchase €X value of gift cards (e.g Apple Store). These usually come with an urgent request to purchase an item with a promise of rapid reimbursement. The victim then conveys the purchased gift card numbers to the fraudster who uses them himself.
This is yet another example of social engineering, which is tricking someone to do something quickly with the added stakes that time is of the essence. Human nature is to want to help, which really is the insidious nature of these types of request.
These contacts can arise from SMS, WhatsApp or email, and they are virtually impossible to eliminate entirely, no mater how good your firewall or antivirus is. As always, the best defense against any type of scam is your instinct, and to always confirm with the purported sender. Here are some questions to consider when a request seems suspect:
- Does the writing style match what you know about the sender?
- If it’s a colleague you barely know, is it likely to be genuine?
- Does the sender’s email or phone number match with your records?
- If the request is urgent in nature, is this normal for this person?
Here is a very useful quiz, which can help to identify any tendencies to fall for these types of events. We strongly recommend you to do this, it only takes an hour or so, but can pay off hugely in the long run.
Rule of thumb: If it seems fishy, its probably phishy! (Unlikely to win Best Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but we’d rather be secure than silly!)
If you have any concerns about this or any aspects of your IT security, call us today at 091 395413.