What Is Phishing?
Phishing scams can be considered any digital attempt against your organization to extort credentials or other important information. The method doesn’t really matter, though it does change the way that phishing is identified. For example, more targeted attempts at specific individuals are called “spear phishing,” whereas impersonating a company’s CEO is considered “whaling.” Either way, the end result that the phishing attempt hopes for is that someone will fall for their tricks.
Vectors for Attack
The first thing to remember about phishing attempts is that they don’t happen exclusively through email. They can come in a variety of ways, including through social media applications, phone calls, and other outlets that you might not suspect without a little predisposition toward them. Here are some of the most common ways you might encounter a phishing attack:
- Email messages, where senders spoof addresses and try to convince users that they are someone important to your organization.
- Phone calls, where callers impersonate someone you know or someone of authority, like a government official or business leader.
- Social media messaging is a more personal method of phishing in which identity thieves try to impersonate people you know in your personal life.
A good rule to keep in mind is that phishing attacks tend to be rather suspicious in nature. For example, if someone who doesn’t normally send you messages suddenly reaches out, and it’s seemingly uncharacteristic of them, be a little suspicious–particularly if they are using language that seems unlikely. Here are some other tips to identify phishing attacks before they have enough of a chance to be dangerous:
- Spelling and grammar errors: More often than not, spelling and grammar errors in phishing messages are quite commonplace, and they signify that something is not as it seems. If you see lots of these errors, you need to be very careful about navigating the messages.
- Immense sense of urgency: If the message prompts you to take action immediately, either out of fear or because it tries to convince you it’s in your best interest, approach it with an extra side of caution. Phishing attempts try to get users to take action as soon as possible; this means that users aren’t thinking things through or discovering that the message isn’t legitimate.
- Suspicious account activity: On social media, if you have a friend who you haven’t heard from in a very long time, chances are it’s not actually the friend reaching out to you if they need money or want you to click on a link. In cases like this, always use discretion.
To limit the damage done by phishing attempts, consider the following measures:
- Implement a spam blocking solution. While it might not help with more specialized phishing attempts, it should limit the most generic ones.
- Educate your employees–this point speaks for itself. If users know what to watch out for, they will be less likely to make mistakes that expose sensitive data.
Does your organization need a way to protect itself against phishing attacks? We can provide your business with the training required to best secure itself. To learn more, reach out to us at (469) 7-ASPIRE.