Phishing attacks represent around 90% of data breaches. This astounding fact gets even more unbelievable when you consider the sheer simplicity of a phishing attack. By just randomly sending out emails to millions of different addresses, hackers effortlessly gain valuable access to private information.
The reality is that human error accounts for many of the security weaknesses in any business’s IT infrastructure, which makes it possible for hackers to gain access to account information in seconds that could cost your business a considerable amount of money.
There are, however, some pretty revealing red flags that can expose phishing emails to those who know what to look out for. By training your staff to recognize what forms phishing emails can take, you can combat successful phishing attempts and make your working environment safer.
Here’s what you and your staff need to know about recognizing phishing emails:
How Does a Phishing Email Work?
A phishing email is an email guised as a legitimate message from a trusted source, when in reality, it carries links that can infiltrate your systems with viruses or malware when clicked on, or it can convince you to give up private information.
The email is usually designed to look like it is from commonly known businesses to trick its recipients into thinking the email is legitimate. Hackers purposely pick some of the biggest names in the corporate industry knowing many people feel comfortable sharing information with these sources, especially if they already have accounts with them (at Amazon, for example).
The email will often ask you to input your username or password, provide financial information, or act immediately by clicking a link to a website. It may suggest that there is a problem with your account, or that you have been the victim of suspicious activity to try and get you to release private information.
How to Recognize a Phishing Email
With 1 in every 99 emails sent being a phishing attempt, there are lots of opportunities for hackers to take advantage of you. In order to keep your data safe, it’s important you and your staff recognize the common characteristics of a phishing email so you can avoid falling victim to them.
Here are some of the main signs that you’ve received a phishing email:
- The email address looks strange or unfamiliar. It may be easy to tell just from the address the email has been sent from an illegitimate source. The domain or links may also be disguised to look like the legitimate company the hacker is trying to imitate, but there are some notable differences in this domain as opposed to the trusted source’s.
- The email is either not addressed to you personally or it uses your email address in place of your name. Many times phishing emails begin with addresses such as “Sir,” “Madame,” or “Dear” rather than your name.
- The email is poorly written. Often phishing emails have poor grammar, spelling or punctuation.
- The email asks you to click on a link to visit your account. This is an especially clear sign of a phishing email if it’s coming from a bank. Financial institutions will never send you links to log onto your account.
- The email contains attachments. You should never download attachments from an unfamiliar source. The email might say the attachment is an invoice or statement, but it is often malware.
Protecting Your Business from Phishing Emails
Phishing attempts can be detrimental to your business if you’re not prepared to recognize and avoid them.
Hackers are getting more and more advanced with their phishing attempts, so it can be especially valuable to work with an IT expert like ARK Solvers who offers email and spam protection as well as cybersecurity training for your employees. This will ensure that you have secure email access and threat prevention measures in place to combat phishing attempts.
As you educate all of your employees on the best ways to recognize a phishing email and work with an IT professional to protect your systems, you can obtain an added layer of security within your workplace. Working to combat phishing is one of the best ways to keep your business and client data secure and out of the hands of criminals.