With the recent news of ransomware, data breaches, and compromises, phishing attacks continue to wreak havoc on businesses, both small and large, quietly. Phishing attempts continue to be as big of a threat as they’ve ever been, despite being one of the oldest tricks in the book. The 2021 State of the Phish report is proof that phishing scams are one of the most dangerous threats a business or individual can face.

Phishing attacks bait unsuspecting victims, tricking them into giving away sensitive information such as credit card details, social security numbers, and other personal details. Some scammers may be hiding behind a voice you know and trust, such as your boss, your bank, or maybe even your government. If you click on a link that unknowingly takes you to a fake or malicious website, you may be on your way to becoming the next victim in a phishing scam.

Your best defense to protect yourself from phishing attacks and safeguard business and personal information begin with educating yourself, your employees, and your customers about the basics of identifying a suspicious email and how to avoid falling victim to this dangerous attack.

We have put together some of the top tips & facts to help you identify and avoid phishing scams.

  1. What is phishing?
  2. Know the red flags of a phishing email
  3. Verify the source/sender of the message
  4. Be aware of vishing & other techniques
  5. Fight the phish

What is phishing?

Phishing is a term used to refer to any email or message that appears on the surface to be from a legitimate company, but in reality, is not. These messages often include links to malicious websites or even attachments with malicious code ready to harm.

The purpose of this type of attack is usually identity theft, such as credit card fraud. Business owners need to be aware of these dangers to protect themselves and educate their employees to prevent phishing attacks.

Know the red flags of a phishing email

Identity thieves are masters of making their content and interactions look authentic, legitimate, and appealing to get you to share sensitive data with them unknowingly. It can be challenging to discern whether the content is genuine or poses a potential threat from content design to language. These risks are why it is so important to know the red flags.

Phishing emails usually have awkward formatting, overly explicit instructions to click on a hyperlink, or instructions to open an attachment. A phishing email sometimes has subject lines intended to create a sense of urgency.

The above signs are all indications that the email message you received could potentially be a phish! Be careful to check the source/sender, avoid opening any attachments, and don’t click on obvious links.

Verify the source/sender of the message

Email messages, direct messages, even text messages can be easily faked, and business owners need to verify the sender’s identity before opening any content or clicking on links. From researching the sender to physically calling them to verify the message’s legitimacy, you should do your best to make sure the message is legit! Are they a reputable company? Have they had a recent data breach? Does it feel like the message is asking for too much personal information, including passwords, logins to social media accounts, credit card accounts, or social security numbers?

Be aware of vishing & other techniques.

Did you know that there are other variations of a phishing attack? Nefarious tactics like spear-phishing are increasing where the attacker pretends to be a recognized, reputable source for you to take urgent action. Vishing or voice phishing is quickly becoming more commonplace in today’s cyber landscape.

Vishing is a type of scam where scammers utilize phone calls or voicemails to trick a would-be victim into believing they are someone from a government office, law enforcement agency, credit card company, or other financial institution. These scammers can also ask for payment or access to sensitive contact or account information over the phone.

It’s important to always be on the lookout for any unexpected communication by phone, chat, or email that asks for personal information. If you’re not expecting it, it’s probably a scam. If there is anything suspicious, immediately end the conversation and contact the company through a known, legitimate channel to confirm the legitimacy of the communication.

Fight the phish

Two valuable resources to help you identify, respond and prevent phishing scams and attacks are StaySafeOnline.org and Anti Phishing Working Group.

As a business owner, it’s essential to know about common phishing scams because they can lead to lost revenue if you or an employee falls victim to one of these attacks.

Conclusion:

Protecting yourself against phishing attacks can be difficult because of the challenges in knowing what emails are safe and which ones may lead to your business being compromised. We hope that this article has helped you realize just how dangerous this type of cyberattack can be before it happens to you. Do your part. #BeCyberSmart

 

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