Phishing Prevention: An Essential Part of Cybersecurity

Phishing prevention is something people fail to do in their cybersecurity plan. Learn how to protect your organization.

What is phishing?

Phishing is where cybercriminals use social channels to gain access to your credentials, usually by masquerading as a trusted institution. Because you think the emails or sites are genuine, you type in your login details without a second thought. As a result, they can get their hands on either funds or trade secrets.

Phishing attacks are a real threat

You may think your organization is relatively safe from phishing attacks, but think again; 76% of organizations were attacked in 2017. The fact is, phishing attempts are continuously happening, even if you aren’t aware of it. So the best thing to do is educate your workforce on the potential dangers out there.

phishing attacks

How to deal with a phishing email

Phishing emails are probably the most common type of phishing done by cybercriminals. Here, you’ll learn how to identify such attempts and how to stop them.

How can you identify a phishing email?

When you receive a phishing email, there’ll be some signs that distinguish it from a genuine one. They are:

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Suspicious links and attachments
  • A generic greeting
  • Requests for you to log into your account (either as confirmation or to stop deactivation)

How to stop phishing emails (Outlook)

Any email provider should have an option to report junk or spam. When you receive a phishing email, use that function to report it. That way, you can not only block any attempts in the future, but also add to their data of what a phishing email consists of.

If you receive a phishing email in Outlook, you can stop it by reporting it to Microsoft. To do so, look for the down arrow next to “Junk” on your toolbar. There should be a “phishing” button on the drop-down menu. Once you’ve clicked on that, it flags the email as a phishing email and blocks further attempts.

Spear phishing attack

In addition to phishing attacks, your business may also be susceptible to spear phishing attacks. Knowing the difference between the two isn’t crucial, but can help your employees be more alert in detecting attempts.

spear phishing examples

Difference between phishing and spear phishing

Phishing is a generic attack performed with something like a blanket email, with the purpose of getting as many victims as possible. This requires little effort and has a decent return.

Spear phishing is phishing but a more concerted attack. Cybercriminals have to put more effort in since they have to adapt their attempt to whatever details they’ve found out about their victims. However, the return is substantial. With one persuasive email, they can obtain trade secrets potentially worth millions.

Spear phishing vs phishing

When it comes to spear phishing vs phishing, you have to be more alert when it comes to the former. While the majority of phishing attacks are obvious, spear phishing ones are less conspicuous. Because cybercriminals do so much research into their victims, this makes their attacks very convincing.

Spear phishing examples

Knowing what spear phishing attempts look like can help your employees better identify any attacks that come their way. Here are some spear phishing examples from recent years:

Phishing prevention best practices

With the knowledge of what phishing and spear phishing are, the next step is following phishing prevention best practices so your organization can stay safe and secure. Here are a few ways you can do so.

how to protect against phishing

How to prevent phishing and spoofing

Spoofing is the technical term for when someone masquerades as a trusted entity. To prevent this from happening, you should talk to your IT department. Have them implement Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).

All three of these methods make it harder for cybercriminals to spoof your company’s email. That way, they can’t phish any of your customers or colleagues.

Spear phishing prevention

For spear phishing prevention, look for the warning signs we listed above for phishing emails. Another thing you need to be aware of is low-quality logos, which may be a sign of poor replication.

Since spear phishing is a highly convincing scam, you need to treat all emails containing URLs and attachments with caution, even if they’re from someone you trust. Always confirm with them before you open anything.

How to protect against phishing starts with awareness

Now that you know how to protect against phishing, your organization stands a chance against anything nasty that comes your way. However, you can improve your chances with reliable software. By layering your defenses with both antivirus and anti-phishing software, you’ll block practically any kind of phishing attempt and keep your funds and trade secrets secure.


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