Phishing is a technique that involves using emails, texts, or websites to trick people into giving away valuable information. While phishing attacks can happen to anyone, they’re more likely to target companies, especially financial institutions, because they have access to valuable data and often have vast IT resources.
If a phishing attack hits your business, it can lead to loss of intellectual property, financial damage, or even identity theft! In this article, we’ll look at what constitutes phishing and how you can protect your business from falling victim to them.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a scam in which cybercriminals try to trick people into revealing personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing is also known as “spoofing” and “brand spoofing.”
It’s carried out by email or instant message, where the attacker sends an email that appears to come from a legitimate source, e.g., your bank or social network, but contains links or attachments designed to trick you into downloading malware onto your computer.
It might also be sent through mobile apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger if they appear to come from someone you know. In these cases, the attacker may have hacked the app, which then has access to all of their contacts’ phone numbers and names—allowing them to send more convincing-looking messages containing malicious links that look like they come from real friends.
The number of phishing attacks is increasing significantly, especially post Covid-19. According to the FBI, there has been an 800% hike in phishing attempts. Hence, there’s a strong need for businesses to prevent attacks.
How Do You Protect Your Business From Phishing Attacks?
While anyone can become a target of a phishing attack, businesses usually face this problem the most. If you are a business owner or a cybersecurity employee, there are many ways to defend your company against phishing attacks. Here are some approaches you can adopt.
Deploy Advanced Threat Protection Solution
An Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) solution is security software that protects your organization’s data from being stolen, compromised, or misused by cybercriminals. ATP solutions detect and block malware before it can enter the network. This provides a layer of defense against phishing attacks, allowing you to focus on other parts of the business rather than solely being concerned about cybersecurity.
If you are facing a lot of phishing attempts, you need to focus on getting an email security ATP that can scan and detect potential phishing attacks. These solutions are powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to identify spam emails based on historical data. Moreover, they can also scan the email and URL to ensure that the email has come from a legit source.
How Does an ATP Solution Work?
An ATP solution automatically collects information about emails to flag suspicious messages for further inspection by human users. When an email is identified as malicious, it will contain indicators such as embedded URLs that do not belong in an email chain or attachments with large file sizes that are too big for the message itself.
The system then blocks these messages from entering your inboxes while providing detailed reports on how many spam emails were caught so you can make informed decisions about what constitutes a legitimate message versus one that should be treated with suspicion through various filters or policies set up by administrators (or other staff members).
Create a Culture of Security
Your culture of security is the environment you create for your employees, partners, and customers. It can be a defining factor in how successful your business will be against phishing attacks.
Here are some ways to strengthen this culture:
- Educate employees about phishing attacks and how they work. Provide them with guidelines on what to do when they receive an email that looks suspicious and how to report suspicious emails or other suspicious activity they encounter daily.
- Create an employee handbook that outlines acceptable use policies regarding email and internet usage.
Create and Enforce a Password Policy
Having a password is the first line of defense against phishing attacks. If your systems don’t have strong passwords, the adversaries will simply penetrate your systems and gain access to sensitive information.
- Create and enforce a password policy. Password managers are the best way to manage your company’s passwords and can help you implement a strong password policy.
- Use unique passwords for every account. This is obvious, but it bears repeating: use different passwords for each account and make sure those aren’t easy to guess. If you have accounts that require re-verification via an email address, don’t reuse that email address across multiple sites. It only takes one weak link in your security chain to compromise all of them.
Train Employees on Scams and Phishing Techniques
Human error is the top factor leading to cyberattacks. Since humans are the weakest link in your security system, training them is the best way to prevent attacks on your company. Training is the best way to ensure employees don’t fall for phishing attacks.
Employees should be trained not only on what a phish looks like but also on how to recognize the signs of one and avoid them. They should go over what types of phishing attacks are most common in their industry, how they work, and how they might trick your employees into giving up sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
Employees should also be given real-world examples of recent scams that have targeted businesses similar to yours, so they know what kind of language scammers use in their emails and phone calls. To test whether or not employees are paying attention during this training session, send out fake phishing emails after your class has ended. If any employee clicks on those links or gives out sensitive information without asking first, then you’ll know who needs more training before he or she can defend against real-world attacks!
Activate Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Anything requiring multiple login methods—like a text message, a phone call, or an app—is considered multi-factor. The idea is that by requiring more than just a username and password to log in, you’re making it harder for phishing emails or websites to trick your employees into giving up sensitive information.
MFA can mean something as simple as sending out secure emails with an attachment that only opens when the recipient types in a password sent via text message. Some companies have even gone so far as to require employees to use PINs on their phones before accessing any data remotely through apps like Dropbox or Google Drive.
You may also want to consider using biometrics like fingerprint scans instead of depending solely on passwords or questions based on personal information that hackers could easily guess. A good rule of thumb: no matter what kind of security you implement at work, don’t share critical info about your company online with anyone who doesn’t need access!
Establish Best Practices Around Email Usage
The most common way to get phished is via email, so it’s important to establish best practices around how employees use email. These best practices should include:
- Each employee should only use one email address
- Employees should not share passwords with each other or with anyone outside the company, even if they are family members or spouses
To help prevent phishing attacks conducted via your company’s website, you can also:
- Ensure that any links provided by sites within your domain are safe by visiting them before presenting them on your site
- Use a third-party tool like Google’s Safe Browsing API to ensure that any external links you show on your site are safe
The reality is that phishing attacks are a severe threat to businesses and can cost your business a lot of money. They can lead to identity theft, the loss of confidential information, customer data, and corporate reputation damage. Just because phishing attacks are more common doesn’t mean you should ignore them, but rather work proactively to create a culture of security at your company.