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Phishing is the use of emails or text messages to trick people into giving up their personal information, installing malware or clicking on links to fake websites. Attackers then steal that information, or use it to access business systems that compromise cybersecurity.

Attackers are always looking for ways to evade security tools and get your data, but there are simple steps you can take to help prevent becoming a victim of phishing. When in doubt about a message or email, contact the individual directly through another method of communication and verify they sent it. This can be as simple as typing a URL directly into the browser or calling the person on their office phone number to see if they really sent the message.

Look for three things: Urgency, Authority, and Familiarity. If a message looks like it is time-sensitive and claims to be from a recognizable company (such as Amazon, Netflix, or your bank), or that a government agency is contacting you for confidential reasons, this is an immediate red flag. Government agencies only conduct business via official mail, never through emails or text messages.

Spelling and grammar errors are also a sign that something is wrong. If an email or text contains several misspellings or grammatical issues, it should be examined more closely to ensure it is legitimate. Avoid clicking any file attachments, especially.exe,.zip, and.scr extensions, as these are likely to contain malicious code.