What is Phishing? Avoid This Common Cyber Threat

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Common Cyber Threat | Phishing

Millions of emails are exchanged daily throughout the world. As email continues to be a prominent form of communication, our Managed IT Services team warns that the opportunity also increases for a cyber threat. Phishing is one of the most common cyber threats in today’s world.

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is one of the most frequent causes of security breaches. According to Tech Target, “Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels. The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments. More importantly, these links and attachments can perform a variety of functions, including the extraction of login credentials or account information from victims.”

Phishing cyber criminals instruct individuals to provide sensitive data like personal information, bank and credit card details, or passwords through electronic forms or ransomware. Individuals can be notified by email, telephone, or text message. Thieves use this strategic method to lure you into giving them your most precious information, threatening your network security. Phishing attacks result in credit card fraud, identity theft, and financial loss.

One of the most common ways that phishing cybercriminals obtain sensitive data on their victims is through email. According to Phishing.Org, these are few simple tips to think about before opening and clicking an email:

Too Good To Be True

You know those emails you get saying you have won a free cruise? In spite of the fact that you have not entered a for that cruise? Those offers all seem too good to be true, probably because they are. Enticing offers are used to attract your attention right away. The cybercriminal wants you to click the call to action button which will in return, allow them to attack your personal information. In this instance, the most natural thing to remember is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Sense of Urgency

A common tactic amongst cybercriminals is to add a sense of urgency. These criminals may tell you that you have a limited time to claim the offer or threaten immediate account suspension. That is just not true. Generally, most credible organizations will give you ample time to respond when your intimate account details are involved. When in doubt, contact the organization in question. The organization will be able to provide you with all the necessary information and verify the email in question.

Inaccurate Hyperlinks

One of the fastest ways to verify a cyber threat in an email is to check all the hyperlinks. Take your mouse and hover over the directed hyperlink. Hyperlinks should match the URL they are leading you to and that the URL in question is spelled right. For example, if the hyperlink says RJYoung.Com, but when you hover over it says AJYoung.Com, do not click it. If you suspect the link may be suspicious, it is better not to click it.

Unusual Attachments

If an unexpected email has an attachment, do not open it! Often these attachments contain ransomware or other viruses that can overtake your entire computer to steal your personal information.

Unusual Sender

Whether you know the sender or not, does the email make sense for you to receive? If not, do not even open it. Also accidentally opening the email can cause issues. Most of the time cybercriminals have a call to action in the email. Whether it is donating to a fundraiser or asking for personal help, be conscious of how the email’s wording and what they are requesting. Many times, the email will explain there is a problem you need to verify, notify you that you are a winner, or ask for help.

Information Request

A bank will never ask for personal information via email or suspend your account if you do not immediately update your personal information. Most banks and financial institutions usually provide an account number or other personal details within the email. 

Protecting Your Business From A Cyber Threat

Cyber Security Education

Make sure that you are continually learning how to defend yourself, and arm your business with an information technology expert. Just as experts are staying up to date with the latest technology, so are the cybercriminals. Be sure to always educate yourself on how cyber threats are changing and how they can affect you.

A Practical Application

Recently, we conducted an internal email test for our employees using Sophos Intercept X. This technology is one of many used by our clients as part of their Managed IT Service Plan. We sent a fake phishing email to all of our employees and tracked the number of opens and clicks to evaluate our own risk of a cyber threat.

After that, we sent out an educational email to make employees aware of the test and provided detail information on what to be mindful of when receiving a potential threatening email. We presented our employees with an easy to follow infographic to use as a guide for analyzing phishing scams in the future. Education is often the most cost-effective solution to protecting your network’s security.

Cyber Security Service

If it seems like cyber threats seem to be occurring more frequently and taking down business operations across the globe, you’re right. The number of data breaches in the U.S. has jumped 29 percent in 2017 according to The Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout. The best way to prevent these attacks is to have a proactive plan for your business. Make sure your Managed IT service partner understands your business. RJ Young’s Managed IT Services include the design, upgrade, and maintenance of cloud services and  IT networks for small to mid-sized companies. We create customized plans for our customers to fit your specific needs and goals for success.