How to Identify and Avoid Phishing Scams

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Phishing attacks are one of the most common security challenges companies face in keeping their data secure.

There are countless ways for hackers to gain access to your data, as we know. They attack your network by attempting to access passwords, credit card numbers, email, social media and other accounts, your website, and other communication means. Hackers will attempt to steal any sort of data they can, and businesses and their users are by no means immune to this. Any business that keeps electronic files or records is suspect and a worthwhile target.

In light of how important security is to you, we decided to create a guide to help you better understand how you can avoid the pitfalls of potential phishing attacks. We’ll touch on the most common ways that your data is open to these attacks and how you can prevent them.

How companies fall victim to phishing attacks

There are two very common ways that businesses end up being the prey to a phishing attack:

  1. Not having the right tools in place to prevent these before they reach users.
  2. Failure to properly train employees to avoid social engineering attacks

 

In today’s digital world employees have incredible power. Depending on their roles they may have access to things like customer data, employee login credentials, and even access to financial information. They also have knowledge that a hacker wants to tap into.

Hackers are smart. They’ll try to obtain this data using any means they can. The purpose of scams like phishing is for hackers to collect sensitive information from you and your network. They use this information to gain additional access to otherwise protected data.

A phishing scammer’s success is determined by way of establishing false trust with those involved. Here are a few techniques used by attackers to extrapolate information from you and your team:

  • Embedding links in emails that redirect employees to an unsecure website
  • Installing a Trojan virus, malicious attachment through email, or some sort of clickable ad that gives the intruder access to exploit security loopholes
  • Requesting sensitive information by attempting to spoof the sender’s email address and content with links or attachments
  • Impersonating a known vendor or IT department in an attempt to get company information over the phone or internet

Knowing how they might attack will help to prevent those attempts from being successful.

How To Avoid Attacks

While there are dozens of steps to help fend off phishing attacks, here are the most straightforward steps you can take to attempt to prevent phishing attacks:

  • Educate. Inform your staff, conduct training sessions with mock scenarios, and empower them to be smart online.
  • Implement and deploy SPAM filters that detect viruses and blank senders.
  • Make sure your systems stay current with standards and patches.
  • Install a managed antivirus solution that schedules updates, and monitors the anti-virus status on all equipment.
  • Craft and document a security policy that includes mandatory password expiration and complexity.
  • Implement and deploy a web filter that blocks suspicious websites.
  • Encrypt all sensitive company information, especially employee data, customer files, and financial information.
  • Mandate encryption for mobile devices and remote workstations.

 

There are other steps you and your team can take to prevent and protect yourself phishing attacks, but the bottom line is this:
You and your IT department need to stay vigilant and adopt strategies to test your security policies and eliminate vulnerable gaps.

It’s just as critical to ensure your employees understand the how and why of phishing attacks, the risks involved, and how to address them. Informed employees, properly secured systems, and properly tested networks and users are the best way to fend off attempts to steal what’s most important to your organization: Your data.

Train Your Team To Avoid Social Engineering

Now more than ever organizations like yours need help with IT relationships they can trust. Dozens of businesses and organizations, just like you, have trusted Cooperative Systems. Take a look here at their successes here.

Cooperative Systems offers powerful social engineering training and mock phishing to train your employees to ward off attackers and not fall prey.
Get in touch with us to learn more about this program.