Protect your small business from email phishing attacks

Protect your small business from email phishing attacks

The majority of people with email accounts have encountered phishing emails and other forms of spam at some point, especially to work email accounts.

There are approximately 45 percent of emails sent each day that are spam. According to Spam Laws, there are an estimated 14.5 billion spam messages sent every day.

It is common for email clients to apply filters to separate spam from their general inbox, but there will almost always be a message that gets through the filter every now and then. Despite training your spam filter as much as you want (and you should absolutely train spam filters), certain types of malicious emails - especially phishing scam emails - will still fool it.

Phishing scams pose a serious potential vulnerability for businesses, which is why it's important to know how to spot this type of spam, which can sometimes find its way into your inbox.

Identifying how phishing emails are disguised can help you prevent them from stealing your business's data.

Phishing defined

The act of phishing is an email message scam in which the sender pretends to be someone or an organization that they are not. The spam scheme involves tricking recipients into providing personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other information that you do not want to be accessible by anyone.

In some cases, hackers have even managed to persuade recipients to click on links to fake invoices and download malware as a result of the scam.

Phishing scams can be a serious vulnerability for businesses, so it's important to recognize these types of spam that sometimes make it to the inbox and not the junk folder.

Why phishing concerns need to be addressed

Phishing and spam emails are sobering enough when the data shows how prevalent they are.

Businesses lose billions of dollars each year because of spam and the associated technical expenses. In 2016, three out of four companies fell victim to phishing scams.

Based on FBI reports, criminals made $676 million in 2017, primarily as a result of email phishing attacks in which the sender tricked executives and accounting departments with fake invoices, as reported by the FBI.

Size of the company doesn't make a difference when it comes to these types of attacks. Several companies, including Facebook and Google, have fallen victim to phishing attacks. Both companies lost $100 million to a phishing attack in 2017.

Everyone is susceptible to phishing, even tech giants. But there are ways to avoid falling victim to it.

Know the signs of phishing attacks

When it comes to phishing emails, some are easier to detect. The less sophisticated attempts to steal your personal or business information have some key signs that you should be alert to.

The presence of many or grievous typos and grammatical errors in an email will be a warning sign that the sender is not who they claim to be. The overly urgent nature of the email will also serve as a warning sign.

Additionally, make sure the sender's email address matches the domain name of the company's website. It is possible for the sender of a phishing email to pretend to be an entirely different business or organization, but the domain name of the email address does not match the domain name of the company's website.

The email message should be obvious as a hoax from that point on.

You should also verify that any links within the email message will take you where it says it will while double-checking the sender's email address. Often, phishing emails mask link URLs behind text so you think the link is legitimate. When in doubt, don't click. Type the link URL into your browser instead.

Last but not least, if the message asks for your log-in information or other private information, such as your Social Security number or banking information, it very likely is phishing.

This information will never be requested via email by reputable organizations or companies.

What to do if you aren't sure whether an email is authentic

Verifying an email's authenticity can be done in several ways.

If you're unsure whether an email is legitimate, don't reply directly to it. Call a trusted number or send a separate email to a trusted account.

It is possible that a sophisticated hacker has hacked into someone's actual email account. If you notice anything suspicious (perhaps the sender doesn't sound like you), contact that person immediately.

You should always verify the authenticity of an email.

No. 1 way to fight phishing is prevention

In order to protect your employees from phishing emails, you should teach them what to look out for. In his article for The Next Web, Stephen Hetzel recommends enforcing a policy that requires suspicious emails to be forwarded to a single person who can evaluate their legitimacy.

According to Solomon Thimothy at OneIMS, employees should use different passwords for each service or platform they use at work. There are tools that you can use to keep track of these multiple passwords, which can be very useful.

As Andrew Schrage with Money Crashers Personal Finance points out in his article, a company should also be equipped with high-quality and effective antivirus software. We couldn't agree more and believe that too many business owners ignore this very simple yet critical security measure.

Protect your business's data from phishing

You can protect your business from phishing attacks by following the recommendations given by the FTC.

Those recommendations include:

  • Regularly backing up your data
  • Keeping all your software up to date
  • Using email authentication technology to screen for suspicious emails before they are delivered to you

Partner with the experts for your IT services

In order to keep your business safe from phishing attacks and other security threats, you must invest a great deal of time and resources. For this reason, it is crucial that you find an IT services provider who is knowledgeable about both prevention techniques and solutions for a compromised business.

Let the Advanced Network Professionals team help you protect your company. We're experts in our fields, including network security.

Contact us today and let us know what security solutions we can offer.

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