It may surprise you that hacking predates the internet, using such devices as a slide whistle…and that such hacks relate to fake emails from Nigerian princes wanting to give you millions of dollars.
We know it now as phishing. Here’s where phishing attacks started, and what to do about them.
The word “phishing” doesn’t carry the “ph” because of the band Phish, but rather from telephones. Some of the earliest hacks were done on Ma Bell. Scammers figured out how to hack into telephone systems using the same sounds as the systems themselves. They could do such things as make free long-distance phone calls with their hacks (something hackers are still up to with modern VoIP systems).
Outsmarting the phones became known as phreaking, ph + freaking. When hacking scams began hooking and baiting victims, the “ph” from phreaking stuck around, and we got “phishing,” ph + fishing.
But Ma Bell got smarter, and telephones started using more complex tones that were not so easily replicated. Phreaking, like pay phones themselves, are a thing of the past. Young people today likely wouldn’t recognize the sound of a dial tone and call the pound symbol a hashtag.
But the secrets to beating phishing attacks require we do like Ma Bell did: get smarter.
Even when obvious scams were the phish-du-jour, people were falling for them. Schemes about Nigerian princes or lotteries-you-never entered wanted your bank account information and they would send you money. Those had some victims but mostly preyed upon the not-so-tech-savvy.
Here are some common characteristics of modern phishing scams:
The single most important thing you can do about phishing attacks is to know what to look for. Cyber security begins with prevention, and an ounce of prevention is indeed a pound of cure.
Until the cyberverse learns to outsmart phishing scams the way that telephone companies made hacking more difficult, it falls on each of us to identify and avoid cyber security attacks.
Fortunately, if you keep your systems up-to-date and stay informed about trends and insights in cyber attacks, you and your business can proactively prevent phishing attacks.
If you find you or your business have been compromised in a cyber security breach, such as a phishing attack, contact us. We can help mitigate threats swiftly and get you back in business.