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What to do if you click on a phishing link?

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  • 4 min read
Photo: wk1003mike / Shutterstock.com

Photo: wk1003mike / Shutterstock.com

Phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated, leaving individuals susceptible to falling victim to these well-crafted scams. Suppose you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve clicked on a phishing link. In that case, it’s crucial to understand the implications and how to respond to mitigate any potential damage effectively.

Phishing tactics have evolved, incorporating vishing (over the phone) and smishing (via SMS). These scams have grown increasingly sophisticated, making them difficult to spot. Falling prey to these tactics is not a reflection of incompetence but a testament to the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

In this article, we’ll delve into the process of recognising a phishing link, the consequences of clicking on one, and comprehensive steps to take after a breach.


The first step in addressing the situation is identifying whether you’ve clicked on a phishing link. These deceptive links often mimic authentic emails from trusted sources, making distinguishing the real from the fraudulent challenging.

A few telltale signs include:

  • Inconsistencies in the sender’s email address.
  • Unusual or urgent requests.
  • Poorly constructed language within the email itself.
  • Check the sender’s email address and the URL before clicking on it. Just hover your mouse’s cursor over the link to see a full link at the bottom of your screen. Usually, phishing scammers will send you spoofed addresses that look like authentic website links. However, a character may be misplaced or added or an extra character or symbol.
  • Asking for more than intimate personal information.
  • They ask you to pay money, share personal information, or perform an unusual action.
  • They promise something too good to be true.

Also read: Wells Fargo alert text message scam explained


What is phishing? Types of phishing scams and how to protect yourself?

Clicking on a phishing link can initiate a series of unfortunate events. The attacker may receive basic information about your device and location, potentially leading to targeted attacks.

Moreover, malware installation is a significant risk, with malicious software like spyware, ransomware, or viruses secretly infiltrating your device. These malware files can gather confidential data for cybercriminals, potentially leading to identity theft or unauthorised access to sensitive information.


Immediate steps to take

If you suspect you’ve clicked on a phishing link, swift action is crucial to minimise potential harm. Disconnect your device from the internet and networks to prevent malware spread.

Contact your organisation’s IT department immediately and conduct a comprehensive virus scan, eliminating any detected malware. Swiftly change compromised passwords and mark suspicious emails as spam to enhance future detection.

Also read: What are PayPal text scams?


Preventing future attacks

Prevention is the ultimate solution to safeguard against phishing attacks. Here are four preventive measures to adopt:

Update antivirus software

Regularly update your antivirus and anti-ransomware software to ensure optimal protection. Consistently running scans and maintaining current virus definitions enhances your device’s security.


Implement email detection scanners

Employ an email system with a robust detection scanner to scrutinise incoming attachments. This application identifies potential phishing threats and blocks emails containing malicious files.


Prioritise phishing education

Recognising red flags is key to stopping a phishing attack before it occurs. Training yourself and your team to identify suspicious email elements can thwart phishing attempts.


Seek expert assistance

Outsourced IT providers can offer expert insight and a fresh perspective to enhance your business’s cybersecurity posture. Seeking professional guidance can prevent phishing attacks and data breaches.

Taking prompt action is essential if you find yourself ensnared by a phishing attack. Avoid providing personal information and disconnect from the internet to hinder malware spread. Backing up data regularly and scanning for malware can minimise potential damage. Changing passwords, especially for critical accounts, is paramount to preventing unauthorised access.

In conclusion, recognising and responding to phishing attacks is essential in today’s interconnected digital landscape. Individuals and organisations can fortify their defences against these evolving cyber threats by being vigilant and implementing preventive measures.

Also read: What are Military Romance scams? How to identify them?

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: [email protected]

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