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Cyber Security 101 Beware of Phishing, Vishing, and Smishing, but Not Fishing (unless you’re a fish)

It’s always something.

That’s especially true in the ever-changing world of cyber crimes. Those sneaky cyber thieves are always cooking up new techniques and schemes to steal the personal information and identities of honest and unsuspecting people.

And don’t expect them to stop anytime soon.

The cyber theft business is booming. Just consider these eye-opening stats from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA):

  • 1 in 3 homes have computers infected with malicious software.
  • 600,000 accounts are hacked online every day.
  • 47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cyber criminals.


Let identity thieves know you’re on to them

So how do you help ensure you don’t become a scary identity theft statistic? The most powerful way is to become knowledgeable about the techniques they employ, including these three very-strange-named but common ones:


If you’ve been around the cyber security block, you probably know all about phishing, not to be confused with that recreational sport, fishing, which is pronounced the same.

An example of a phishing attack could be an email you receive from a delivery company telling you that you have a package coming and inviting you to click on a link to learn more.  That link can lead to you downloading malware on your computer and getting in a whole lot of trouble.


Understand phishing? Then, you’ll pretty much get another technique that sounds awfully similar: vishing. While phishing usually involves the use of emails, vishing uses phone techniques like calls to your cellphone or voicemail messages that prompt you to provide sensitive information. They may, for example, invite you to click on a link or call to speak with a human agent (aka a no-good identity thief). An example of a vishing attack might be a voicemail you receive from the Faux-IRS telling you that you’re subject to a costly penalty unless you call right away and make a payment.  Don’t fall for it.


Just when you thought you’ve had all the evil -ishing you can take, you learn about another technique, smishing. Smishing is a type of phishing technique that uses texts. Those text messages can be promises of prize money, coupons, or cancellation notices that prompt you to act quickly.  A common smishing attack is a fake text message telling you that you won a prize and must click on a link or call to claim it.  Another might be your auto insurance company threatening to cancel your insurance policy if you don’t call to provide payment information ASAP.

Fool you once, twice …

What’s even more troubling is that thieves often use a  combination of phishing, vishing, and smishing techniques all for the same purpose – to fool you.

Tips to protect yourself from identify theft:

  • Use your instincts. If an email doesn’t sound right or looks suspicious, don’t click on it.
  • Hover over links in emails to see where they lead you before clicking.
  • Install security software on your computer and devices.
  • Ensure the software on your devices is up to date.
  • Never give out private information to someone on the phone or via text message.
  • Ignore communications from unknown numbers and senders.

Avidia has your back!

The security of your accounts and information is one of our most important priorities. That’s why we would never call you or send you a text to request personal information. If you think the security of your accounts or information has been compromised in any way, talk to us immediately.