Email messages designed to trick you into giving up personal and banking information, or to get you to install malware, are getting more sophisticated and harder to spot. What should you do if you suspect you were taken in by a malicious email message? Read on to learn how to recover from phishing scams and malware.
Phishing scams can be lurking in email messages, websites, and text messages. Scammers try to make them look legit and serious so you hand over personal information, account logins, and credit card numbers.
How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Schemes and Malware
Your best bet for protecting yourself is to plan ahead and stay vigilant. Here’s what to do ahead of time to fend off disaster:
Always Have a Backup Plan
Make sure you have good backups of all your important data. Apple’s Time Machine is handy on your Mac, but you should consider supplementing that with a dedicated backup app like SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner, or Prosoft’s Data Backup. Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun have some great tips on the Mac Geek Gab podcast.
Use Unique Passwords
Use unique passwords for all of your logins. That way if someone gets your password for one account they don’t have access to all of your accounts.
Use a Password Manager
Use a password manager app like 1Password or LastPass. That saves you from having to remember that long list of passwords you have for all of your logins.
Use Two-factor Authentication
Enable two-factor authentication for every site and service that supports it. If a hacker or phishing scammer gets your password they still have only half the information they need to log in to your account.
Look for Flaws in Email Messages
Stay vigilant by looking closely at emails asking you to update account information or give up other personal data. Spelling and grammar errors are a good indicator something is wrong. Apple also has some great tips on recognizing Apple ID phishing emails.
Stay Away from Sites You Don’t Trust
Avoid websites you don’t trust. Maliciously crafted websites can try to steal login information or trick you into installing malware.
Don’t Click Links in Suspicious Email Messages
If an email gives you a link asking for account information, don’t click it. Instead, open your browser and enter the website’s URL yourself.
What to do if You get Tricked by a Phishing Scam
What if you realize you were just tricked into giving up personal information, or installing what may be malware on your Mac?
Change Your Password
If you think your login for an account has been compromised, change the password. Do it even if you have two-factor authentication enabled.
Scan your Mac for Malware
Assuming you were tricked into installing malware on your Mac is a safe precaution. You can use a utility like Bitdefender or Avira to scan your Mac and hopefully find and remove any malware, and in the process stop hackers from stealing data from your computer, locking you out of files, and logging your keystrokes.
Report Potentially Compromised Credit Cards
If you think your credit card number was stolen in a phishing scam call your bank right away and let them know. You’ll have to deal with the inconvenience of getting a new card issued, but that’s better than someone racking up charges on your card.