What is a Phishing Attack?
Phishing is an online scam. Criminals create fraudulent emails that appear legitimate and send them out unsuspecting victims. You may think that this is the kind of thing only your grandmother would fall for. However, criminals have become more sophisticated in recent years and many phishing emails look identical to their legitimate counterparts, making it very difficult for the recipient to know if the email is real or fake.
The email is sent out with the intention of getting the recipient to disclose personal details, such as their credit card numbers, date of birth, or passwords.
Normally, these emails will contain a link or attachment for the recipient to click. This will then collects confidential information or infects the computer or other device with malware. This information is then used to commit identity theft or is sold on to a third party on the dark web.
These types of campaigns are normally launched on a massive scale. By targeting large groups of people, cybercriminals have a larger chance of success, scamming more people, and being able to collect more information.
The general public is becoming more aware of these types of scams. However, it is important, as a business, to educate your employees on cybersecurity to keep confidential information safe.
Types of Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks can come in various forms and have different purposes. The following are some of the most common types of phishing attacks.
Whaling attacks are a little different from your standard phishing attack. For example, most phishing attacks take a ‘spray and pray’ method of targeting a large group of people. However, whaling attacks are aimed at a specific person, typically a high-level executive. These types of phishing attacks are often more sophisticated and a lot more time is put into them. The email they send out may contain personal information and make it more difficult to recognize it as a fake.
Clone Phishing is one of the most common types of phishing scams. A legitimate email that has previously been sent out by a company will be cloned, and malicious content will be added. It will appear to have been sent from a legitimate source and the identical nature of the email makes it hard to spot as a phishing scam.
Vishing is a different type of scam to those we have talked about so far as it refers to phishing scams happen over the phone. However, it follows a similar pattern for deception. The cybercriminal will call the victim, creating a sense of urgency and get them to reveal personal information over the phone which can then be sold or used for identity theft.
How a Phishing Attack Can Destroy Your Business
Businesses have become the victims of phishing attacks more often over recent years.
The damages can be devastating to not only revenue but their reputation as well, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for businesses to recover. According to Microsoft, the estimated total cost of cyber-crime globally could be as much as $500 billion and a data breach is estimated to cost a company, on average $3.8 million.
Cyber attacks on businesses often target employees. Larger businesses can afford to invest in strong security that is difficult for criminals to bypass, so instead, they target the weakest link in a business, the people who work for it.
According to Cisco, 22% of businesses that experience a data breach, lose customers immediately, in the aftermath of a cyber attack. This shows how much customers value their privacy and need to have their data kept secure.
How to Protect Your Business Against Phishing Attacks
The impact of phishing emails can be devastating. As a business owner, you need to take every precaution to make sure your business does not become the victim of a phishing scam.
Identifying emails can be difficult. According to McAfee, around 97% of people worldwide are unable to identify sophisticated phishing emails. However, that doesn’t mean that all is lost, and there are still ways to detect these emails and protect your business.
- Never click on suspicious links The most common scams involve clicking a link to download malware or to send you to a site that will collect your data. Never click a link that appears suspicious. Check the link has come from a reputable source and the way it looks. For example, a scam URL may be made up of a random serious of letters and numbers, whereas a legitimate one will take you to the organization’s known website.
- Educate Staff You may have an impenetrable security system in place but this will give you little protection if your staff is not educated on cybersecurity. Hackers know how to send out emails that will get employees to divulge sensitive information. If they are not educated on these tactics they will be susceptible and your business will be at risk.
- Verify the security of a site Before you enter any personal information online, always check the validity of a site. For example, a site that starts with https has an SSL certificate and is more secure that one that starts with http.
- Passwordless identification FIDO involves using technology such a facial recognition and fingerprinting to replace passwords. Information that we remember can easily be stolen and this method helps improve the validity of user authentication.
To Sum Up
Phishing attacks are common and can be devastating for a business. It is vital for any business that wants to be successful to adapt serious security measures for all the personal data they store. As technology moves forward this will likely more into authentications that no longer rely on passwords. However, it is still important to have password protection in place and educate your staff on how to spot a phishing attack.