Phishing scam: a misinformation tool threatening cyber security

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In recent times, we’ve seen various phishing scams play out on multiple online platforms that give way for hackers to get information and play attacks on unsuspecting audiences.

However, the online platform where this activity takes place constantly is WhatsApp, and this is because these websites ask them to share on WhatsApp ‘until the green bar is full’. So users share to closed group chats and contacts, and they also, in turn, click the link, and the cycle repeats itself.

One major step WhatsApp has taken to mitigate this is to reduce the number of times a message can be forwarded.

Phishing is a technique for attempting to acquire sensitive data, such as bank account numbers, through fraudulent solicitation in an email or on a website in which the perpetrator masquerades as a legitimate business or reputable person.

Phishing is a form of misinformation in the sense that the hackers/scammers put out false information but the people disseminating it believes it to be true.

The FactCheckHub has published several fact-checks on phishing scams and tutorials on identifying phishing scams, websites and viral WhatsApp messages.

Despite these measures, people still fall for these scams as they devise new methods to present them to people, one of which is using information that is true to lure audiences to click on a phishing link. Another is giving out freebies that look too good to be true to individuals.

Recently, The FactCheckHub published a fact-check on the claim that the federal government is distributing fuel subsidy removal palliative to individuals, and users should click the link to check their eligibility. The provisions for the palliative is true, but the federal government or the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed is yet to make any announcement on the disbursement.

Forbes reported that clever phishing scams always have a sense of urgency about them because they do not want you to stop and consider what you’re doing. They push emotional buttons to bypass logical thinking.

To reduce the spread of phishing scam messages, individuals should always be suspicious; nothing comes for free !!! They should watch out for misspelt words in the messages as this is common with phishing messages and fake domains in the form of misspelt websites, the report stated.

It added that  “organizations must train workers to recognise these as they arise and then follow up by testing employees’ ability to identify phishing attempts.”

Get detailed information on how to identify phishing scams here.

Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected] | + posts

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].

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