“Phishers” keep us up at night. These people deliberately try to con you and then steal your private information. This is a huge industry-wide problem, and Yahoo! dedicates significant resources to identify and block phishing emails before they reach your inbox.
Unfortunately, we can’t stop phishers without your help. The most effective way to prevent phishers from stealing your information is to remember a handful of common sense tips that can help stop intruders in their tracks and keep you safe online:
1. Don’t recycle your password
Got a favorite password you like to use? Well, don’t use it often because attackers that successfully obtain a password you use at one Website will likely try to use it to access your other accounts, such as your bank or favorite online retailer. Here’s a better idea: Use a different password for each Website you use to access sensitive information (i.e: email, bank, social networking, and major retail Website passwords). Mix-up your passwords even if your username is the same.
2. Never send your sensitive information over email
No reputable businesses will ask you to send them your password or account information in an email. If you receive such a message, immediately click the “Spam” button on that message and we’ll get rid of it. Likewise, beware of messages from major companies asking you to “click this link” to verify your password. Instead of clicking on the link, visit that company’s homepage or call the company’s customer service line to verify the authenticity of that email. Phishers like to use these types of emails to direct people to legitimate-looking Websites that are really meant to steal IDs and passwords.
3. Check the “From” line
If you get an email message that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always look at the email address itself and not only at the name of the sender. If the “From” line seems too generic or the domain does not clearly identify who the sender is, such as “email@example.com”, or “firstname.lastname@example.org”, then it’s likely a hoax. Be safe, not sorry.
4. Know thy friend
The other day a friend of mine sent me an email with a generic, “Hey, check this out!” in the subject line and a link from an unknown Website. Turned out his account had been compromised. Be suspicious if a friend sends you a link that seems phishy – and make sure to alert them so they can warn other recipients of the message and alert their email service provider. If they ask you to send money, give them a call first (even if the email says it’s pointless). Scammers steal accounts and send messages with sad stories to convince you to wire them money. We all want to help our friends, but not by sending money to strangers.
5. Keep your system virus-free
There are viruses out there that steal your passwords by recording your keystrokes. Using and regularly updating virus scanning software is a good way to protect yourself from these and other types of malicious code. There are a number of anti-virus companies that offer free versions or trial offers, including: http://security.symantec.com , http://usa.kaspersky.com/downloads/free-virus-scanner.php, http://us.mcafee.com/root/downloads.asp?id=freeTrials, and http://www.avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html.
You’ll continue to see more tips from Yahoo! about how to protect yourself online. We’re committed to arming you with tools that will help keep you safe, including the improved spam protection we’ve built into the new Yahoo! Mail Beta. Take a test drive or learn more about it here .