Martin RobertsI do, according to my family, quite a good Brian Clough impression. Voice wise at least. I can say ‘Now then young man’ and people will say ‘That’s Brian Clough!’. But impersonating someone can flip from funny to dangerous in a heartbeat when we think about phishing as an impersonator.

If they can see me they would know that I’m not (plus the fact that, sadly, Brian is no longer with us).The thing with most impressionists is that there is always something slightly wrong; something out of place. Even with intensive make up, you always know that someone isn’t the genuine article – there is always a distinguishing factor that gives them away.

Of course, you can admire the talent they have to capture the voice, intonation and traits of the target of their impression, but at the end of the day, you know it isn’t them.

The impressionists I despise and have no time for are those people who send out phishing emails to fool you into handing over vital information, such as bank details, by getting you to click on a link so they can install malicious software on your computer.

These days, there are plenty of those types of impressionists who, through social engineering and other methods, are able to use phishing emails as a means to trick people into thinking they are someone they know.

So, if I receive an email from someone I know that has even a hint of something that seems out of context, I’ll pick up the phone and ask the person who the email purports to be from if they did in fact send it.

What am I looking for? Well, I will assess the following:

  • Am I expecting an email from them?
  • Is it part of a conversation I’m already having?
  • Is it about a subject we normally converse about?
  • Does it have links to something that could be information that would typically belong in the email?
  • Is the language used ‘normal’ for that person?
  • Does it start with ‘Dear Martin’ when they usually commence with ‘Hi Martin’?
  • Does the email contain the regular footer information, or does it differ slightly?

All these things are small indicators that this could be an impressionist – and they’re out to ‘phish’ you.

There are some very convincing impressionists out there but there is always something that can give them away. Look very closely before clicking on any link and if you’re not sure, don’t click. Verify by phone.

Just don’t be fooled by their disguise!