Phishing 101: Recognizing Threats

phishing email

Phishing 101: Recognizing Threats

Businesses, organizations, and individuals are bombarded by Phishing attacks. A study revealed that there are about 135 million phishing attacks attempted daily. Phishing does a lot of damage to affected companies. They lose sensitive data, reputation, productivity, and business value. 

With October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, there’s no better time to check your risk level. So what exactly is Phishing, and how can we recognize threats and protect ourselves and our businesses?

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a social engineering technique used by cyber attackers. Attackers send seemingly harmless emails to in order to take financial advantage of their targets.

Phishing attempts typically take the form of attention-grabbing emails. Since hackers spoof these messages as coming from reputable sources, many don’t hesitate to click on them. 

Emails might be disguised as a notice related to a legitimate bank account request, an urgent need to reconfigure login credentials, or a link to an attractive prize. When the recipients click into the message, hackers may deliver malware, or collect passwords, credit card information, or other sensitive data.

Who Is Affected by Phishing?

Everyone, from big businesses to small organizations, are at risk of Phishing attacks. In addition to the businesses, customers are often affected. Experts estimated that the average cost of a data breach in 2019 was $3.92 million. Aside from financial losses, companies have to battle lost time when operations are frozen.

How To Recognize Phishing Threats

Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to try to lure in victims. In order to be on guard, here are some common techniques to look for: 

Malware Attacks

Malware attacks occur with hidden malware in links encouraging people to download a file. As soon as the recipient downloads it, the hacker can access the device to use for information theft or ransom. 

Whaling

In whaling, hackers impersonate important agencies and go after senior company executives. They request vital documents like tax returns. This allows them access to everything from from addresses to bank account information.

Spear Phishing

Spear Phishers target specific individuals within the company based on information they have gathered about the targeted person. Criminals then send messages that appeal to the person and that seem trustworthy. These messages often appear to come from a co-worker. Therefore, the recipients give out money or information without suspicion.

Email Phishing

Hackers send out thousands of generic emails mimicking real organizations. In these messages, they push the recipient to do something with urgency, like renew an account’s information immediately. The hackers then collect information or install malware.

How Can You Prevent Phishing?

Since employees are the first line of defense against attacks, it is important to conduct all-office trainings. Each employee can help or hurt the cybersecurity of their company. A qualified IT company can give your employees the right cybersecurity training to make sure they are prepared to recognize and defend against outside threats. 

Companies can also benefit from using protective software that alerts employees to potential threats online. An IT company can help you to set up and manage the latest protective software security.

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