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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stated that phishing scams have become the most common type of cybercrime. With the majority of businesses conducting transactions online, reliance on emails, websites, and other digital tools give hackers many opportunities to steal data.  

Regardless of what industry you may be operating in, falling victim to a phishing attack can have a significant impact on your organization. The Ponemon Institute’s 2021 Cost of Phishing Study found that companies who were targeted by hackers lost an average of $14.8 million and this figure is expected to grow through the years. 

But setting financial losses aside, phishing schemes can lead to other issues such as a tarnished brand reputation and the loss of client trust. To minimize the chances of an attack and ensure business continuity, having a better understanding of phishing is a must. 

Phishing Attacks Explained

Phishing attacks are classified as social engineering scams that fraudsters use to steal data. This commonly happens through email, where cybercriminals trick you into clicking a malicious link. In other cases, you will be asked to input specific details into a page, and hackers will immediately install malware on your system.

Once you have interacted with these harmful sources, fraudsters can acquire sensitive details such as the login credentials of your financial accounts, credit card numbers, etc. Moreover, they may also take control of your systems and access all connected networks, putting stakeholders at risk. To stay one step ahead, it’s good to educate yourself on the different phishing techniques.

Common Phishing Techniques

Email Phishing

This phishing technique uses fabricated emails. These messages are designed to look like they have been sent from a trusted source (e.g., banking companies and credit unions) and are highly targeted to improve overall authenticity. They may take the form of an internal request or a penalty notice that requires immediate payment.

SMS Phishing (Smishing)

Similar in nature to spear phishing, smishing scams are text messages that urge you to click on a suspicious link. Upon interaction, malware is installed onto your device, compromising all stored sensitive data.

Vishing Scam

Unlike smishing, where a fraudster sends you a message, vishing is when a fraudster calls you and requires you to take immediate action. A criminal can pretend to be a representative from the IRS or any organization you are associated with and state that you are in legal danger for not paying your dues.

Ransomware Attacks

As the name suggests, ransomware is malware that encrypts and holds an organization’s data hostage. They take away the victim’s access to their associated networks, applications, and databases and only give back access upon payment.

Whaling Attacks (CEO Fraud)

Fraudsters may collect and gather the details of a corporation’s CEO and use them to commit identity theft. After all the necessary information has been acquired, they can create impersonated accounts that ask you for your personal information, request immediate money transfers, and more.

Angler Phishing

Cybercriminals can also utilize social media to their advantage. They can create fake accounts and send you suspicious offers through a message, tagged post, or even a comment on your feed.

HTTPS Phishing

Online fraudsters leverage HTTPS instead of HTTP in the links they send you to appear more secure and trusted. However, these are often hidden as hypertext or shortened to conceal the actual URL.

Pharming Attack

Pharming attacks redirect you to fake websites that appear legitimate and ask for your credentials. These sites can be spotted by looking at inconsistencies such as misspelled words, mismatched website designs, etc.

Pop-up Phishing

Clicking on certain pop-ups can install malware on your device unknowingly. Avoid pop-ups from suspicious sites or consider installing a pop-up blocker altogether.

Phishing Prevention Tips

Double down on employee cybersecurity training

Hold training sessions to help your employees become more aware of cyberattacks. The necessary training will enable them to spot easily and react to malicious activity.

Install antivirus software

Investing in reliable antivirus software allows your system to detect any discrepancies in your network. Ultimately, this lowers the risk of malicious software getting into your company’s devices. Make sure to keep the software up to date on all company machines, including on mobile devices.

Adopt a layered security strategy

Layered security systems will protect you across different fronts. Acquiring a proven identity and access management system will ensure that no unauthorized individual can gain access to your company’s resources and make it easier for you to detect and respond to suspicious activities.

Utilize multi-factor authentication whenever possible

Multi-factor authentication will make it more challenging for fraudsters to access your systems. Supplementing good password practices with a biometric authentication system is a great way to guarantee security.

Always consider who you are giving your information to

Before you give out any sensitive data, take some time to review the websites and senders who request your details. Watching out for discrepancies such as spelling errors, design inconsistencies, and more will help you determine if these sources can be trusted.

Regularly update your security system

It’s important to know that security systems need to be patched regularly. Keeping your antivirus software updated will enable you to benefit from new features that can help secure your data.

Limit who has access to your network

Shrink down the number of people who can access your network and resources. Assigning permissions is the best way to make activity tracking and access management seamless.

Prioritizing Your Online Safety

Cybercrime is becoming more frequent as businesses utilize online platforms and digital tools. Because of this development, there is no shortage of opportunities for fraudsters to steal a company’s data. As such, a better understanding of phishing ensures that your valuable data is safe and secured.

Protect your network from phishing scams and other cyberattacks through identity and access management solutions. Get in touch with Q5iD today to learn more!


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