As businesses increasingly rely on digital platforms, cybercriminals find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. One of the most prevalent and concerning threats is phishing attacks. These attacks have seen a resurgence recently, targeting businesses of all sizes and industries. To shed light on this growing issue and provide valuable insights, we have gathered tips to combat phishing and quotes from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help protect your business from these malicious attacks.
The Resurgence of Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks involve fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as login credentials, financial data, or personal information by posing as a trustworthy entity. These attacks are typically carried out through deceptive emails, text messages, or websites that mimic legitimate organizations.
Despite increased awareness and security measures, phishing attacks have resurfaced with renewed vigor. Cybercriminals are employing sophisticated tactics, exploiting human vulnerabilities, and leveraging current events to manipulate unsuspecting employees.
Tips to Combat Phishing
Educate Your Employees: Training and awareness programs are essential in equipping employees with the knowledge to identify and respond to phishing attempts. Teach them to scrutinize emails and messages for signs of phishing, such as suspicious links, misspellings, or requests for personal information.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification beyond passwords. By implementing MFA, even if an attacker gains access to login credentials, they would still require an additional form of authentication.
Keep Software and Systems Updated: Regularly update your operating systems, antivirus software, firewalls, and other security tools to ensure you have the latest patches and protections against known vulnerabilities.
Use Robust Spam Filters: Deploy robust email filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching employees’ inboxes. These filters can analyze incoming messages for suspicious content and potential phishing indicators.
Encourage Vigilance with Links and Attachments: Advise employees to exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments, especially if they are unsolicited or appear suspicious. Encourage them to independently verify the legitimacy of the sender before taking any action.
If you got a phishing email or text message, report it. The information you give helps fight scammers.
• If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com.
• If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).
• Report the phishing attempt to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
From the FTC
Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card, or a utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might:
• say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
• claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
• say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
• include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
• want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
• say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
• offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real
Here’s a real-world example of a phishing email:
Imagine you saw this in your inbox. At first glance, this email looks real, but it’s not. Scammers who send emails like this one hope you won’t notice it’s a fake.
Here are signs that this email is a scam, even though it looks like it comes from a company you know — and even uses the company’s logo in the header:
• The email has a generic greeting.
• The email says your account is on hold because of a billing problem.
• The email invites you to click on a link to update your payment details.
While real companies might communicate with you by email, legitimate companies won’t email or text with a link to update your payment information. Phishing emails can often have real consequences for people who give scammers their information, including identity theft. And they might harm the reputation of the companies they’re spoofing.
Examples of Phishing to Look Out For
Fake Login Page: Attackers create a convincing replica of a legitimate login page, such as for a bank, email provider, or social media platform. The page typically includes a logo, input fields for usernames and passwords, and may even have a secure padlock symbol. However, upon entering the credentials, the information is captured by the attacker.
Malicious Attachments: Phishing emails often contain attachments, such as PDFs or Office documents, that appear harmless but contain malware or malicious scripts. The email may masquerade as an invoice, shipping notification, or important document, urging the recipient to open the attachment. Once opened, the malware is installed, compromising the victim’s system.
Account Verification Scams: Attackers send emails or messages claiming that the recipient’s account needs urgent verification or has been compromised. They may include official-looking logos and request the user to click on a link to verify their account. The link leads to a fake website where the user is prompted to enter their login credentials, which are then stolen.
Lottery or Prize Scams: Phishing emails may notify recipients that they have won a lottery, contest, or prize. The message may include enticing images of the supposed winnings or a fake check. To claim the prize, the recipient is asked to provide personal information, including bank details, which the attackers can exploit.
CEO Fraud/Business Email Compromise: In this targeted attack, scammers pose as high-ranking executives or business partners and send emails to employees, requesting urgent money transfers or confidential information. The emails often appear authentic, using the executive’s name, signature, and official branding.
As phishing attacks make a resurgence, it is crucial for businesses to be proactive in their defense strategies. By implementing robust security measures, educating employees, and remaining vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these malicious schemes.
Remember, cybercriminals continuously adapt their tactics, making it essential to stay updated on the latest phishing trends and prevention techniques. By following the tips provided and leveraging guidance from organizations like the FTC, you can fortify your business against phishing attacks and safeguard your sensitive information and valuable assets. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and protect your business from the rising tide of phishing threats.