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How To Protect Your Business Against Phishing Attacks

Attackers use phishing to gather personal details from a target through one or more communication methods, usually email or text messages. The perpetrator will design the message to look like it came from a trustworthy sender, such as a well-established bank or a global corporation. The goal is to persuade the target that the message is genuine, earn their trust, and persuade them to take the requested action.

For example, scammers taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic sent messages related to vaccinations, benefit payments, requests for help in funding research, and more. It’s believed that more than one in three Canadians have been targeted by phishing scammers since the start of the pandemic.

But why are they dangerous? And how can you protect your business? We’ll answer these and other questions below.

Why are Phishing Attacks Dangerous?

Recipients who mistakenly believe a phishing message is genuine may send an attacker their banking details, a password for a website or application, or other sensitive information. That could lead to financial or identity theft.

However, phishing emails and texts may also include infected attachments or links to harmful websites. Downloading or clicking on these could compromise the security of a system or an entire network. And businesses or organizations may suffer severe downtime while they try to remove the infection.

One possible type of infection is ransomware, which has become an increasingly common problem for Canadian organizations. On average, Canadian businesses lost $180,000 due to ransomware attacks in 2019, an increase on the previous year’s $65,724.

Find out how to recover from a ransomware attack if your business is targeted.

Different Types of Phishing Attacks

Attackers use several forms of phishing to scam targets. Here are two of the main types:

Spear Phishing

An attacker who takes the spear approach has to do their research on a business before they start sending messages. They’ll have one target in their crosshairs, such as an SMB or bigger organization, with an aim to gather a specific type of information.

It’s important that spear phishers understand their intended victim in-depth, so they can send a message that appears to be from a known, trusted source. The more an attacker knows about their target, the more likely they are to send a convincing message.

Whale Phishing

Scammers launch whale phishing attacks against targets with a higher profile, such as the manager of a company, a C-suite exec, a politician, perhaps even a celebrity. Research is still essential to create a message that inspires the target to divulge sensitive information.

How Can You Defend Your Business?

Here are six tips to help you protect your company against phishing attacks:

Recognize the Warning Signs of an Incoming Attack

The sooner you spot the telltale signs of a phishing attack, the sooner you can avoid falling into its trap. But it can be difficult to determine whether a message or a website you’re directed to after clicking on a link, is genuine.

A phishing email may include the following red flags:

Unprofessional subject lines you wouldn’t expect to see in formal correspondence — An inexperienced scammer may make this obvious, such as “oPeN NoW for FREE MONEY!”, but a seasoned attacker could still use odd formatting or incorrect spelling.

Asking for confidential information — Banks won’t ask you to submit sensitive data via email or text.

An urgent, demanding tone — Phishing attackers may try to convince you that you have to respond to them immediately and put an unusual amount of pressure on you to comply.

A phishing website will have some of these same issues, as well as suspicious pop-ups, a lack of contact details, and a different URL address than you saw in the link that you clicked on.

Implement Effective Email Security

Using a trusted email security solution can help you keep spam emails — which may be an attempt to launch a phishing attack — out of your inbox. Information security specialists will help you explore your options and recommend the right one for your business.

Invest in a Quality Firewall

A good firewall is a must when phishing and other types of cyberattack are so prevalent. Firewalls can protect your systems and network from threats, but there’s a wide range of options on the market. Take a little time to research them, and speak with security professionals for advice.

Train Your Employees

Educate your workforce about phishing attacks, warning signs, and potential fallout. Encourage them to stay vigilant and be wary of any emails or text messages that seem suspicious.

Another key step in training employees is establishing a standard procedure in the event that they click on a link or download an attachment without realizing that it’s malicious. However, it’s crucial that they report this immediately instead of trying to cover their tracks.

Run a Phishing Attack Test

One surprising way to protect your business against phishing attacks is to send a fake one to your employees. The aim is to measure their response and identify how many take the wrong actions. You can assess the results of this test, determine where further training is needed, and plan future education sessions to tighten your security.

Try to make the fake email look as close to a genuine phishing attempt as possible, with just enough subtle clues to warn employees who are paying attention.

Protect Your Business with Professional Cybersecurity Solutions

Managing your own cybersecurity can be a challenge when you’re trying to run and grow a business. You may not have the time or resources to dedicate to securing your network and training staff on common risks.

Fortunately, NETWORTH can handle it for you.

Our highly trained, experienced IT specialists will deploy best-in-class malware and antivirus software to defend your network against phishing attacks (and other threats). You’ll be able to focus on running your business while we keep it safe.

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