March 4, 2021

What is a Phishing Attack and How Can You Protect Yourself?

Protecting your company's sensitive information is a full-time job. It might be one of the most important jobs you have as an employee, or even as an owner. One of the most common strategies used by bad actors to access sensitive data is a phishing attack which targets individuals to get their personal information or passwords. 

A phishing attack is a fraudulent email sent out to trick you into giving away sensitive information. These emails don't come from their claimed senders. Instead, malicious hackers design them to look like they're from someone you trust, so that you'll respond to the email without hesitating and provide them with the information they want.

The goal of a phishing attack is to get your login credentials or other sensitive information that will allow a hacker to access your company's computers and gain access to your data. That is why it's essential to be aware of the type of information you might disclose when receiving an email from a phishing scam.

Common phishing emails use simple tactics that generally go like this. First, the hacker will obtain some information about your business. Then, they'll create a convincing email and send it to your company's email address list. Many employees receive these emails but ignore them because they often look suspicious. 

A phishing email's subject line will usually include something like "Request to verify your account" or "Verify your account," which is obviously a red flag. The email will also contain the sender's name, the date it was sent, something in the email body, and a link to click that looks legitimate. This link usually takes you to a website that looks like it's part of your company's online services but is actually a fake page created by the hacker. If you enter your login credentials into the page, you'll have just handed over all of your company's sensitive data to the hacker.

Most phishing emails don't contain much in the way of detail in their body. They're designed to trick you into clicking a link instead. But there are some phishing emails that do try to be convincing, and will have more information about a request or an update to an order form from a company that you or someone else in your organization will recognize.

So, how can you tell if an email is legitimate? Just like most other kinds of emails, you'll have to look for small details, like the sender's address or the format of your organization's logo. If it doesn't look right, it probably isn't.

To protect yourself against phishing attacks and other forms of cyber-attack, be sure that you have a security plan in place and employ a few basic security measures to ensure that your company is protected.

What You Can Do Right Now to Help Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks:

  1. Don't click on any links inside emails received from people you don't know. If the email looks suspicious, call the company or person who appears to have sent it before you follow any links inside it. Ask them if they were actually asking for that kind of information and be sure that they haven't been hacked before giving away any information.
  2. Remind your staff to never give out any sensitive information in chat rooms, or in emails that are not from their domains or an official source. Saying "no" is a crucial step in this situation, since you never know what some hacker is going to do with the information they obtain.
  3. Make sure you know the difference between an official email from a company and an email that's been spoofed by a hacker. If you receive an email from someone at your company's domain, then you can probably assume it's genuine. But if the address is wrong or looks odd, and it looks like someone else sent it, then do not click on that link.

While these tips aren't a foolproof method to preventing phishing attacks, they are a good first step. As phishing attacks continue to evolve, it's important to pay attention to the details when you receive emails that ask you to click on links. When in doubt, delete the email and contact your supervisor.

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