With the rise of the internet and social media in particular, catfishing has become increasingly prevalent over the years.
“Catfishing is a well-known Internet scam, where a catfisher creates a fake online profile in order to seduce a victim into a fictitious online relationship, in order to extract money or other benefits from the victim,” explains Paul Cucu, Security Evangelist, Heimdal Security. Catfishers often play the long game and leverage the emotional, often romantic, connection their victim feels to gain access to their personal details and money. We all love to watch the many TV shows and documentaries about catfishing on dating sites. Often, we laugh at the victims, we think that it could never happen to us, that it was blindingly obvious that it was a scam. But the truth is, it could happen to any of us, and it does happen to many of us.
Catphishing is where con artists use fake personas to gain access to corporate information and data. Unfortunately, cyber criminals have become very advanced and are constantly coming up with new ways to access data. They can impersonate people from within your business and it can be incredibly difficult to spot. Whilst catfishing usually takes place over social media and dating apps, catphishing is usually through email, which is the most common form of business communication.
Phishing emails can be indistinguishable from real emails. For this reason, it is vitally important for businesses to ensure that they have continuous training on cybersecurity. The thing that distinguishes catphishing from regular phishing is that the con artist will play the long game and try create a relationship with their victim. Often, catphishers target older women with emotional cons, or men with sexual cons. However, they can also target business employees by posing as a colleague or manager.
Unlike traditional cyber crime, catphishing does not require any specialist hardware or skill. Anyone can do it; all they need is a believing victim and a convincing act. They also tend to collect knowledge about their victim, whether from social media or a company website. This makes it easier for them to build a relationship and gain the trust of the victim.
Learning to recognise catphishing is the first way to avoid these scams. Important things to look out for include:
- Senders email address – watch out for incorrect or misspelt names and domain names. They can be as subtle as ‘@neflix.com’ rather than ‘@netflix.com’.
- Tone – does this person usually sound like this, if you recognise who its from. A catphishing email may also be poorly written, containing many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
- Suspicious links or attachments – if you don’t recognise a url, or you are unsure why this person would be sending you a link or attachment, it is best to exercise caution and not open it.
- Threatening or urgent tone – catphishers create a sense of urgency so that you don’t have time to think and you hand over the details they need without question.
- Context – does the email make sense? For example, it’s highly unlikely that your manager would be asking you for details such as passwords.
- Sensitive info requests – whether it’s sensitive company information, personal data or bank details, never give important information over email.
If you suspect an email is phishing, do not click on any links. Report the email as phishing and delete it.
If you think you have been catphished, you should immediately change your passwords, backup your data and run a virus scan on your computer.
Cardonet can provide you with a comprehensive range of cyber security services to help you stay secure and, at the same time, help you demonstrate compliance with industry and regulatory standards. To find out more about our Cyber Security Services, please click here.
If you are concerned about how phishing has affected or could affect your business in the upcoming year, call us on +44 203 034 2244 or +1 323 984 8908. Alternately, you can contact us online. We will be happy to help you overcome your hotel IT challenges so that you can improve your guest experience and set your hotel apart. Cardonet have been working with businesses for the past twenty years to help them overcome their technological challenges.