What is email phishing and why should businesses know about it?

What is email phishing and why should businesses know about it?

Think about for a moment how many emails you read and send per day. Now, add in the number of emails your coworkers or employees read and send per day.

That’s a lot of emails. Or, as a hacker or other malicious entity may see it, that’s a lot of opportunity for mischief or malicious activity. When it comes to email, that malicious activity more often than not comes in the form or phishing.

It’s effective, too.

Phishing is responsible for 90% of data breaches and last year 76% of businesses reported they were a victim phishing attack in the last year. That’s all according to Retruster.

But trust us, phishing is something you, your business and your employees absolutely must be prepared to defend against.

Phishing email attacks can cost your business

Don’t believe us? Well, let’s take a glance at some of the stats from Retruster.

Businesses both large and small often find themselves dealing with phishing email attacks. Unfortunately, not all have prepared and trained their employees to recognize these emails and to take the proper precautions. According to Retruster, phishing emails cost organizations $13 million in 2019 alone.

The bad news for your business is that phishing attacks are getting more and more sophisticated every year. However, the good news is that you can train employees and coworkers to better recognize phishing attacks and stop them dead in their tracks.

What is phishing?

You will more than likely recognize phishing once we define it. Phishing is a type of malicious attack that is used as an attempt to steal important personal data, including login information, credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information.

With phishing, though, the attacker assumes the identity of a trusted person, organization or business in order to prompt users to drop their guard. In the case of email, this usually leads the recipient to open an email message because they have been fooled to believe the sender is legitimate, although phishing has been used in text messaging or instant messaging on social media platforms, too.

The result of a successful phishing attack is often a loss of financial information that may lead to unauthorized purchases, financial theft or even identity theft. On the business and corporate end, phishing attacks are often after business client or customer data, which poses obvious privacy risks.

Phishing attacks at the corporate level can also take a somewhat stealthier approach, as the end goal can be to get beyond security and send malware throughout the business’s network and closed environment. That can lead to more serious malware or ransomware attacks that seek to reveal sensitive information.

The end result can be a financial hit, reputation decline or a decrease in confidence among customers that your business is able to protect their information.

Here’s how phishing email scams work

Phishing emails are not always easy to detect. This is what makes them so problematic for businesses.

One of the most common tactics adopted by a phishing attack will be to attempt to create an email that looks as though it has been sent directly from a company that you would normally interact with. The hope, from the attacker’s end, is that you might drop your guard and provide information that perhaps that company or organization already has.

Except the problem is that they are not who they seem. They may say they are a bank, credit card company or another entity that may already have this financial information on hand. But they are not – and this is the key point of the deception.

From here, they may suggest that they have noticed suspicious activity from your account, that there has been an issue processing some payment information or that a fake invoice must be paid. These are only a few examples.

In many cases, though, these scams are sophisticated and may appear as though they are coming from the organization they claim to represent. It can be easy to fall for these schemes and give the attackers what they are looking for.

How to recognize a phishing scam

Ever wonder why a company that should already have your financial information wants you to send updated information? That should be a red flag that may signal a phishing scam.

Say you receive an email from a bank that your company interacts with frequently or even has an account with, except that email is asking for you to confirm an account number or online banking information. This may be a phishing scam, as many financial institutions will communicate via mail or phone calls when there is a problem.

Your first step to determining whether the request is legitimate is to check the sending email address. Does the domain name (name@yourbank.com) look correct, or is it a different email domain? If there is any difference, don’t respond and notify your financial institution right away.

Another method is to hover over links with your cursor before clicking on the links. If the web address that the link will send you to seems questionable, then it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and not follow the link.

Other red flags that may indicate a phishing scam are poorly written emails with horrible grammar, emails that contain odd or suspicious attachments or messages that are written in ways that make the situation seem dire and in need of your immediate attention.

Here’s what to remember so you can avoid phishing

Always remember to look for those small but vital clues to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam. If the sender should know your name, but does not provide it in the message, then that’s a sign of a problem. If they are asking for you to confirm information that they should already have, then that again is problematic.

Never be afraid to reach out in a different way to organizations so as to verify whether they have been attempting to get in touch with you. This could save your business – and your customers – from falling victim to phishing attacks.

Contact ANP for your business’s security needs

Whether you want advice on how to strengthen your business’s network security or want a way to filter out suspicious email messages so they never pose problems, Advanced Network Professionals can help provide the peace of mind and security you require.

Simply reach out to ANP today and we can establish a secure network for your business that is constantly monitored, allowing you to focus more on what matters most – running your business.

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