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How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season

Although hackers are getting more and more sophisticated, you can still recognize that something is not right online. NordVPN shares tips on spotting a phishing message -- and keep your online activities safe.

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Topic: Security
How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season
1 of 9 Eileen Brown

Check the sender’s address

Always check both the display name and the email address of the sender. If the two do not match, or the sender's domain looks suspicious, then do not open the email.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
2 of 9 Eileen Brown

Unrecognised sender

If you do not have an online account with a specific brand, then you have no reason to open any email from them. 

It could be a worm, virus, or a phishing attempt by someone who wants to get your details.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
3 of 9 Eileen Brown

Valid account but unusual message

If you do have an account with the bank or brand, but the message seems to relate to something you do not remember doing, do not click on any links or open any attachments. 

Banks will never send you impersonal messages like this. They will personalise the mail to your name and usually will include three digits of your account number or other personal details.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
4 of 9 Eileen Brown

Spelling and grammar

Spelling mistakes do occasionally occur, but badly written emails should be junked straight away.

Enable two-factor authentication to avoid others taking control of your account and potentially locking you out of your own mailbox.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
5 of 9 Eileen Brown

Greeting

Vague greetings, such as "Hi Dear," would never come from a legitimate source. 

Banks and other valid organisations would always use your full name when addressing you in an email.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
6 of 9 Eileen Brown

Promises of money

The adage "if something seems too good to be true, it usually is" holds true for emails offering you rebates, refunds, and unasked-for cash.

Always be suspicious. Check the link and the address. Real cash refunds are usually in response to a request for a refund.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
7 of 9 Eileen Brown

Hover – do not click

If you see a link in your email, do not click on it. Instead hover your mouse over the visible link to see the real destination. You can then see if the link looks authentic and has no .php or other types of scripts in it. 

Another check is to see if the link starts with https, which indicates a secure connection.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
8 of 9 Eileen Brown

When in doubt

If all else fails, and you are really tempted to open the links, but you have a hunch something is wrong, check with the brand that apparently sent you the email. 

Do not use the reply to link on the email, but contact them through their valid website, or phone number if you have any doubts.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

How to avoid being phished during holiday shopping season zdnet
9 of 9 NordVPN

Use VPNs for security

VPNs provide an encrypted tunnel to prevent your credentials being stolen when you are online. a VPN could minimize future attempts to extract your information.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data | The best VPN services: Our 10 favorite vendors | These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2018

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