How to Protect and Defend Your Startup from 3 Common Types of Phishing
Cyber threats toward businesses are on the rise and getting more complex by the day. In cybersecurity, phishing is considered a social engineering attack. For businesses, this means that the attack is most likely to target your employees and use them as the gateway into your organization.
While there are many types of phishing, this type of attack is older than the internet itself. Scammers send messages in which they’re pretending to be someone else to gain the victim’s trust.
Once they establish themselves as trustworthy, they aim to get employees’ credentials, encourage a money transfer, or download an attachment containing malware. In case the phishing attempt is successful, the cybercriminal can financially damage the company or cause a major vulnerability within the system.
How can you protect your business from phishing, and what are some of the well-known variants that could target your employees?
Today we are going to be covering the top three common types of phishing attacks you’re likely to experience in the corporate environment and how to prevent them.
In most cases, phishing messages will be sent via email. The most common type of phishing includes a generic message that is sent to as many addresses as criminals can find on the internet.
Since the email is not meant to be personalized, the perpetrators are likely to impersonate government or health care institutions. You might get the latest news about COVID-19 regulations or the message that your data has been compromised.
Generic phishing messages often have attachments or requests that you send them your personal information — claiming that they want to help you.
The pressure to take action as soon as possible and requests to send sensitive data that no organization would ask for via email is a dead giveaway that scammers are hiding behind these official-looking emails.
How can you defend your startup from email phishing?
In most cases, phishing will be combined with other forms of cyber threats — such as malware or malicious code injection.
Therefore, their final goal is for your employees to click the email and download a virus that enables them to spy on you, encrypt data on the computer, or leak sensitive information.
Even if your employees click the link in the email by mistake, it’s important to have a tool that prevents likely attacks from causing further damage to your system.
Most email providers have filters that can detect generic templates that scammers use to phish your employees.
Spear phishing is more time-consuming and elaborate than classic email phishing. Instead of sending the generic email to all email addresses they can find, attackers carefully scout their victims before pressing send.
They craft a customized email based on their position in the company. Scammers know the victim’s job title, email address, name of their boss, and maybe even something about their families and other teammates they trust the most.
If a spear-phishing email finds you well, scammers might request that you send them your passwords or complete a wire transfer.
How do you prevent your employees from interacting with spear-phishing messages?
While they might thrive at the work they do, they may not even be aware that they’re putting your company at risk. This is because they might not be tech-savvy or know a lot about cybersecurity.
Employee training can significantly reduce the number of successful phishing attacks. In their basic training on cybersecurity hygiene, introduce the main types of phishing and how they might target them in real life.
Also, advise them not to open emails from unknown senders or click on links that are in the body of the email — regardless if they’re seemingly sent by the bank or a trusted medical institution.
Phishing dubbed “whaling” is a similar type of scam that is also delivered via email, but the target victims are senior executives of the company. They might message higher-ups directly or impersonate CEOs of the company.
The scammer will urgently request a wire transfer or credentials in company-specific corporate language and a deep understanding of business.
How can you find out whether a whaling attack occurred in your company?
According to Statista, 42% of employees that are between the ages of 16 and 24 admitted in the survey that they’ve made errors that could have put the security of the company at risk. While it’s not certain why they haven’t reported the issue, it’s clear that they are aware of the risk.
Nurture a company culture that encourages reporting of the possible cyber breaches and mistakes that have been made and might endanger the cybersecurity of the company. Also, facilitate the reporting of incidents.
Why Are Phishing Attacks Still So Common?
When we read about these cases or someone is retelling their swindler story, it seems obvious. We almost always feel confident that we’d never fall for a phishing attempt.
However, in a hectic work environment, phishing is the last thing on our minds — especially if we don’t know a lot about this type of attack.
More sophisticated phishing scams target our trust in authorities such as financial and medical institutions. They focus on employees because scammers know that they won’t think twice before emailing sensitive information such as credentials to their boss.
Some phishing scams might rely on your compassion and exploit that you want to help — which is why some of them might impersonate various charity groups.
Others poke at your fear. That might mean losing your finances or not being up-to-date with the latest policies that could cause your legal problems.
Phishing is also prevalent because it’s one of the most approachable types of cybercrime.
Other types of cyberattacks are more technical, but phishing does not require coding or even running a code found online. It usually just requires social media research and scouring the web for email addresses.
Being aware of the different types of phishing increases the chance that we and our employees will recognize them and avoid them before they cause damage to a company.