Phishing attacks are now considered the main source of data breaches.
91% of cyber attacks start with a phishing email *
Ten years ago, if you asked someone what ‘phishing’ was, they probably would have no idea. Since then, times have changed considerably; phishing attacks are now responsible for a significant number of major data breaches.
Phishing may have made its way into the mainstream vernacular, but there is still confusion about the subject—and rightfully so. Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated and targeted, and even the most tech- or security-savvy people can find themselves a victim. So, how do you make sure you don’t fall victim as well? Use this five-point checklist to closely examine the validity of incoming email. When in doubt, don’t click!
The SenderThis is your first clue that an email may not be legitimate. Do you know the sender? If not, treat the mail with suspicion, and don’t open any attachments until you verify with the purported sender that they meant to send them. If you believe you do know the sender, double check the actual email address. Often, a phishing email will be designed to look like it comes from a person you know, but there will be a slight variation in the address or they will spoof the envelope to show you a name you recognize.
The SubjectPay attention to subject lines! While something like, ‘Claim your ultimate deal now!,’ can be an obvious sign of a phishing email, the far more successful subject lines are the ones that don’t raise that much suspicion. ‘Account action required’, ‘Delivery status update’, or ‘Billing statement confirmation’ can all be ploys to weaken the email recipient’s defenses through seemingly ordinary alerts.
Remember, if something legitimate is that important, your bank, employer, doctor’s office, retailer, or credit card company will find an alternate way to contact you when you’re not responding over email. When in doubt, call to ask if they’ve sent you an email, but do not make that call to a number that was in the email message you are calling about!
Most clicked email phishing subject lines.
A delivery attempt was made (18%)
A UPS label delivery (16%)
Change of password required immediately (15%)
Unusual sign-in activity (9%)
The BodyThe body of the email can hold a whole new set of clues, including misspelled words and confusing context. For example, are you asked to verify a banking account or login to a financial institution that you don’t have an account with? Did you get an email from someone you may know that has nothing in it other than a short URL? Does the content apply to you or make sense based on recent conversations or events? Similarly, if it is a known contact, is there a reason they would be sending you this email?
Hackers can also use current or popular events to their advantage. For example, holiday shopping, tax season, and natural disaster or tragedy relief efforts are all used to sneak an unsuspecting phishing email into the inbox of thousands of targets. Did you know that the IRS reported a 400 percent increase in phishing scams for the 2016 tax season alone?
How will you know if an email is valid or not? This is where other email clues will come in handy!
The AttachmentsThe golden rule — do NOT open an attachment if any other aspect of the email seems suspicious. Attachments often carry malware and can infect your entire machine.
7.3% of successful phishing attacks used a link or an attachment**
The URLs Similar to attachments, do NOT click on a link if anything else about the email seems suspicious. This is usually the attacker’s ultimate goal in a phishing scam — lure users to a malicious site and trick them into entering login credentials or personal information, allowing the attacker full account access.
If you do click on a link, be sure to also verify the actual URL. Are you on Google.com or Go0gle.com? The variations can be slight, but they make all the difference! That said, be aware that a malicious site will not always be visibly reflected in the URL, and therefore you will not be able to tell the difference. If this is the case, most browsers have built-in phishing protection to alert you that something is wrong.
15% of individuals who fall for an initial phishing attack admit to falling for a phishing attack a second time.
By using these five email checkpoints, you will be more equipped to decipher a phishing email. However, some phishing attacks are so sophisticated that they can even fool the savviest of users. The good news is that there are technology solutions, such as two-factor authentication, that can help, and we strongly recommend 2FA
On November 26th, a security flaw in a U.S. Postal Service platform exposed data of more than 60 million users by allowing anyone logged-in to usps.com to query the system for user data. USPS has patched the flaw after repeated requests, according to Tech Crunch.
WHAT DATA WAS COMPROMISED?
User data exposed included usernames, user IDs, email addresses, account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and real-time mail delivery data.
I HAVE A USPS ACCOUNT. WHAT DO I DO?
Officials are investigating the incident and it's unknown if impacted users will be contacted by USPS. However, we highly recommend that you:
•Closely monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity
•Turn on Dark Web Monitoring to receive real-time securiy alerts if your information is found where it doesn't belong
This fall, a major new update for iPhone and iPad is scheduled to arrive: iOS 12, the latest version of Apple's smartphone and tablet operating system software.
Its standout feature? A new way to turn your face into a living cartoon, called Memoji:
It's true! That grinning cartoon above is none other than Apple CEO Tim Cook.
But let's not kid ourselves — the stuff that will really impact your daily iPhone use is far more mundane. To that end, Apple is making some major strides in iOS 12 towards ease of use and convenience that are worth highlighting.
Here are the five most important changes and additions coming in iOS 12:
1. iOS 12 makes old iPhones faster.
There are plenty of new features coming in iOS 12 that are intended for the latest models of iPhone, such as the aforementioned Memoji.
But one huge feature that's aimed squarely at older iPhones is a major performance improvement. In testing thus far, according to Apple VP of software engineer Craig Federighi, iOS 12 makes older phones like the iPhone 6+ run far more quickly: 40% faster app launches, 50% faster keyboard opening, and a 70% improvement in opening the camera.
It's not sexy, but it's stuff like this that makes the user experience for most iPhone owners so, so much better. Apple is directly addressing the common complaint that each year, with each new iOS update, older iPhones get slower.
That iOS 12 will support iPhones going all the way back to the iPhone 5S is another subtle nod of acknowledgement to the tens of millions of people using older iPhone models.
2. The Notifications tray is getting a major update, smartly copying Android's best feature.
Ever slide down your notifications tray and find a mess of nonsense? That's most interactions with the notifications tray on iOS, unfortunately. One of the major arguments for using Android over iOS is how useful the notifications tray is in the former (and how poor it is in the latter).
Apple's seemingly addressing that disparity with iOS 12, finally adding support for grouped notifications in the notifications tray. All your text message notifications will be automatically bundled together, for instance, rather than showing each one individually. You can still tap in and see each one, or you could swipe left on the whole stack to clear them all at once.
It's a small but crucial change to daily iPhone use.
3. Customize your life with Siri Shortcuts.
Siri is kind of a mess in general use, but a new tool for Siri has a lot of promise. It's called "Shortcuts," and it essentially allows you to program a series of actions tied to a specific command phrase.
In the example Apple gives, an iPhone owner has set a shortcut to the phrase, "Heading home."
When Siri hears that phrase, it automatically enacts a series of actions:
— Retrieves directions home with the least traffic.
— Text messages the user's roommate to let her know she's on the way.
— Sets the home thermostat to 70 degrees and turns on a fan.
If you've ever used Automator on a Mac, Shortcuts will sound familiar — it's a way of setting up a sequence of actions that you perform frequently, tied to a single trigger. In the case of Siri Shortcuts, those triggers are whatever phrase you set. Pretty neat!
4. More control over how you use your phone, and more ways to monitor that use.
With Apple's introduction of the iPhone over 10 years ago, smartphones have taken over. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the blurring of our digital lives with our real ones, and Apple's introducing some voluntary boundaries for those looking for space.
In iOS 12, you'll be able to set your own app limitations. It probably wouldn't hurt to limit yourself to less than an hour of social media use per day, right? That's the idea.
To that end, Apple is also adding activity usage reports. Even if you don't want to voluntary limit your app usage, perhaps seeing how much time you've spent scrolling through Facebook will convince you.
Additionally, iOS 12 is expanding out the concept of Do Not Disturb mode to a new Do Not Disturb During Bedtime mode. Instead of simply silencing your phone's ringer and vibrations, it will also withhold on-screen notifications.
5. FaceTime is getting support for up to 32 people at once!
You already know it and probably love it — the video calling service FaceTime is expanding out massively with support for up to 32 participants in iOS 12.
Moreover, you can bring your Memoji right into FaceTime. Become the stylized koala you've always wanted to be!
FaceTime with that many users means organization is key. To that end, whoever is speaking will show up as the largest square, and you can tap individual people to focus on them even if they're not speaking.
BONUS: A few important details about iOS 12 for iPhone/iPad users.
iOS 12 is the next major version of Apple's mobile operating system, which runs on iPhones and iPads. It costs nothing, and is expected to arrive this fall.
Apple hasn't given it an official release date, but the new version of iOS usually launches alongside the new iPhone in September. A developer preview of iOS 12 is available now for members of Apple's developer program, and a public beta is planned for later this month.
iOS 12 runs on the iPhone 5s and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation, iPad 6th generation, iPad mini 2 and later and iPod touch 6th generation.
BONUS 2: Apple CarPlay is finally getting support for Google Maps and Waze in iOS 12 Finally:
Apple's CarPlay system will allow iPhone users to navigate using Google Maps and Waze. Finally!
Previously, CarPlay would only allow for Apple Maps. It's a small change, but a momentous one if you're anything like the millions of other people who prefer Google Maps to Apple Maps.
A few weeks ago we learned that a piece of sophisticated malware called VPNFilter infected more than 500,000 routers and other devices around the world. VPNFilter was spotted in some 54 countries, but an increase in activity in Ukraine suggested the malware was created by Russian intelligence looking to disrupt Ukraine either ahead of the Champions League final in late May, or before local celebrations in late June. The Kremlin denied any involvement in VPNFilter, of course. Since then, the FBI issued a warning to Internet users to restart their routers. Cisco’s Talos security team is now back with more details on VPNFilter which reveal the malware is even more dangerous and scary than we thought.
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