Email phishing is the malicious attempt to steal sensitive information or personal information by fraudulently posing as a trustworthy source. Phishing attacks rely on social engineering to trick email users into sharing bank account credentials, credit card numbers, sensitive data, or other personal information, often resulting in identity theft or money stolen.
Cyber criminals commonly target small businesses or corporations with phishing scams. Phishing emails are intended to closely mimic typical communication an employee may receive from a supervisor. The only difference is that the cybercriminal will use an email address that may differ by one or two characters from the supervisor’s true email address. If the employee does not notice the fraudulent email address, they are more likely to be a victim of the phishing attack. Clicking on a malicious link in the phishing email may result in malware being downloaded on the computer.
Another form of email phishing is known as spear phishing. Spear phishing is the fraudulent act of sending emails from a real email address that is trusted or known. This practice targets associates known to the user whose email was hacked with the intention of capturing data, such as personal information or credit cards, from the associate. Spear phishing is a more targeted cybercrime that relies on mimicking ordinary emails extremely relevant to both parties involved. One example of spear phishing would include an email to follow-up on a recent purchase you made online. The hyperlink in the email to leave a review with the company, may be a method for downloading malware on your computer.
Malware is a term that includes a variety of malicious software intended to steal or access data on a personal device, or even provide access to an entire network.
Falling prey to an email phishing attack will likely result in a data breach, severely impacting your business. The breach of sensitive data such as bank accounts and credit cards result in a financial loss that is not always covered by your business interruption insurance.
As the pandemic has pushed more workers to login remotely, the ability to monitor and protect your business from phishing attacks and malware has become more complex. Phishing protection should be the core of your IT strategy.
How can I protect my business from phishing attacks, malware and ransomware?
There are several ways to protect your network from an email phishing attack, however, the most overlooked defense is employee security awareness training. Employees are the most common point of entry for cyber criminals. The larger the organization with more employees, the more targets exist for phishing scams. Only one person clicking on a single malicious link can result in a data breach. Therefore, it is very important to constantly remind your staff of the inherent risk associated with email.
These are courses that employees complete on their own time, typically only requiring a few minutes each week. The goal of the training is to provide awareness on topics such as two-factor authentication, how to spot malicious websites or suspicious emails and when to share or not share personal information online.
Security awareness training also involves simulating fake spam emails to your own employees. By sending out emails that appear to be real but have a letter or number different in the email domain from the legitimate sender, your IT administrators can create learning opportunities for your staff. If an employee clicks on a link in the simulated spam email, you know to follow-up with the staff member and teach them how to spot this type of phishing attack in the future. Repeated failures to spot spam emails should result in more training for the individual.
Another layer of email phishing protection comes in the form of email filtering, also known as spam filters. Spam filters are incredibly important for identifying malicious spam emails before they reach your inbox. Spam filters automatically analyze incoming emails to check for common characteristics found in phishing emails. These methods have become more sophisticated, allowing your anti-virus software to gauge the reputation of the sender’s email address. Emails from accounts or domains commonly associated with spamming will be quarantined immediately. Filters can be adjusted to different levels of sensitivity for determining which messages are quarantined. Also, if a message is incorrectly quarantined you can still access the email and approve the sender to ensure it will not be blocked in the future.
Monitoring computer devices with antivirus software is a key defense for malware. Antivirus software is installed on employee computers with the intention of searching for, detecting, and ultimately removing viruses such as malware. This software is constantly running in the background of your computer. Security awareness training may not always result in a perfect performance and an employee may ultimately fall prey to a phishing attack. Monitoring devices allow your organization to spot a ransomware attack or malware attack early, before it spreads to other devices in your network.
Often times malware includes a spying tactic known as keystroke logging. Keystroke logging is a form of spyware that once downloaded on your computer, records each key pressed on the keyboard. This covert tactic allows a cybercriminal to monitor and retrieve usernames and passwords typed by a user. Antivirus software is a key layer of protection for identifying software such as keystroke logging before it results in a cyber attack.
Outsource Your Managed IT Services
Working with a managed service provider is one way to ensure you are protecting your digital assets. Although cyberattacks are not always preventable, a managed IT services team will help you restore systems through a series of backups. Additionally, a managed IT partner will establish training protocols for your staff, simulating fraudulent emails in order to repeatedly raise awareness of the threats to your company via email. Training combined with the correct monitoring tools provided by the managed IT company will put your company in a good position to thwart cyberattacks, or recover quickly if the need arises.
If you have questions regarding the services provided by a managed IT company, please contact us to learn more!