Crimes like phishing and, more recently, pharming are being reported to authorities. If the first event is already well known in Portugal, the second has been appearing in daily Portuguese life. Stealing personal and private data aiming a bank fraud is common in both crimes. However, the main concern is that pharming is “more sophisticated and, therefore, dangerous”, said to CNN Portugal, Nuno Rico, finance expert from DECO (Associação Portuguesa para a Defesa do Consumidor/Portuguese Association for Customer Protection).

Phishing is probably more predictable and objective, whereas pharming seems to deceive users, such as customers, asking for personal data and redirecting them to other server without reliability and security. For instance, this type of server displays pages that are very similar to reliable webpages, such as bank pages, describes the finance expert. A further point is that - even “bank logos” could be displayed on these insecure pages, increasing the cyber and stealing risk.

Despite being risky for everyone, mainly, for customers, to use internet safely, considering these cybercrimes, there are some useful measures that could be applied to reduce the risk and – even – to avoid the opportunity of cybercriminals. Nuno Rico from DECO and Javvad Malik, lead security awareness and advocate, from KnowBe4 highlight that the accurate decoding or analysis of e-mails, sms or other texts that we receive could make all the difference to escape from pharming and – also – from phishing too. According to Javvad Malik “criminals give a context, but we do not see objectively.” For this reason, it is crucial to read and understand accurately the messages language context. Because for him, “the context is king, allowing to make sense of what is presented.” Moreover, acting like this, our behavior seems less predictable, revealing “an unconventional thinking”, that is unwanted for cybercriminals.

Finally, considering our protection measures, Nuno Rico from DECO points out another interesting behavior that all of us can have while reading a sms or e-mail: “Instead of clicking in the link or address, we should move the cursor upon the link and pay attention if there is a padlock towards. If not, do not open it.” Although, in general, it is very useful to analyze the type of Portuguese or English structure Language that appears in all of the received messages, in order to reduce or avoid phishing and pharming, suggests Javvad Malik, from KnowBe4. Because “we never know what is really going on with the internet”, due to the different facets of perception VS science, he says.

On balance, our best protection as individuals, families and customers rely on our “cyber skills” improvement and analytical thinking, says experts from Google, KnowBe4 and DECO. That is why, as our grandparents told us: “Knowledge never takes additional place. It will always be valuable.” What about you? What is your view on this issue?

by Daniela Gonçalves