The Danger of Phishing Emails and Why Your Business is Struggling with Them

You can see it all over the news — phishing attacks are becoming increasingly common due to the pandemic and increase of employees working remotely. Businesses struggle with phishing and cyberattacks due to a lack of knowledge on what to look out for, and successful phishing attacks can cause financial loss for victims, put university data and systems at risk, and put their personal information at risk. The fight between companies and phishing/cyber attacks is still ongoing, due to a lack of training and equipment in place. A leading cause of phishing attacks is the paranoia that your email has been compromised since phishing has only gotten more clever, but there are ways to prevent an attack.

Phishing is the ultimate form of cyberattacking because hackers have the ability to go after users ranging in sizes all at once. Attackers create a familiarity with the person they’re targeting to get their information, often portraying someone trusted, such as a vendor or person of authority, but their messages contain malware or malicious links designed to trick users into sharing credentials. Common social engineering methods include sending messages with embedded URLs. Once the person clicks on the link, they are redirected to a phishing site. A phishing email can be sent with a malicious attachment that is rigged with exploits, after opening the link, the user is redirected to a fraudulent login page that will manipulate them into providing personal information. The first step in preventing an attack is limiting who has access and keeping it secure. Insisting that employees think before they click is an important rule, but there is still more that can be done. One resource I found was an ebook about preventing phishing on how you can defend against spear phishing and whaling attacks as well as why it’s necessary to fortify inboxes with strong layers of real-time protection.

Proper training on what to look for is only the first way to defend yourself and your company against a phishing attack. Install and use all the features of a reliable security solution, including malware detection, and vulnerability scanning. Individual behavior of users can’t be predicted, so it’s important to have a failsafe in case a mistake happens. Here’s an excellent resource that helped me understand my phishing risk and what I could do to reduce it.

Keep your system and programs updated, obsolete technology can leave you vulnerable if an attacker can combat older technology. Regularly scan the internet for exposed email addresses and/or credentials. Social media is often used as a tool for hackers to gain information on their prey, it is important to make sure to give away as little confidential information as possible. Staying on top of safeguards set in place can be very preventative, but it is equally important to take steps to keep your information out of arm’s reach.

Companies can prevent phishing and cyberattacks if they implement the tools and education to do so. Having the knowledge and the support of security software, prevention is not only possible but probable. Keeping your email and private information safe can keep companies from paying devastating costs, both financially and to their reputation.