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6 ways to protect your business from phishing attacks

February 8, 2018

Phishing isn’t what it used to be. Malicious websites look legitimate and crooked emails appear to come from trusted senders. It’s now harder than ever to know how to prevent these kinds of attacks.

That’s why we’ve compiled six simple steps to help you protect yourself and your business. But before we get started on protection, let’s define phishing.

This type of attack is usually deployed through an email or another kind of message, like a text. The message might seem genuine or even helpful, but it’s not.

Contained within is a malicious attachment, untrustworthy link, or a prompt for users to hand over information. Hackers wait patiently for recipients to take the bait.

Phishing attacks can be disastrous for businesses, but the tips below will help you avoid them altogether.

1. Expert training, efficient team

Train your employees to spot phishing emails and make sure they fully understand their cybersecurity responsibilities.

It won’t be easy. Attacks have become more sophisticated and varied so your team will need to be adaptable.

Still, a phishing scam will only succeed if a target trusts the contents of a message. Sometimes attackers pose as managers or CEOs and request sensitive information or even a transfer of funds.

In another example, hackers send emails containing an innocent-looking attachment, like an invoice. The email appears to originate from a trusted address. But it’s not.

A cybersecurity expert will help you put a working strategy in place. But, it’s essential your current employees, and recruits know what to look out for.

2. Go back to basics

If you don’t already have an antivirus solution and spam filter in place, do it today. Spam filters recognize and block emails sent by untrustworthy senders. Antivirus software protects your network.

Whatever products you choose, make sure you’re using the latest and safest versions. Automatic system updates are often made to guard against attacks like phishing scams.

3. Simulate a worst-case scenario

Are you curious to see how effectively your employees can prevent a phishing attack from succeeding?

A popular approach is to simulate a phishing campaign and measure results via click-throughs and engagement rate.

How many employees clicked on the email, downloaded the attachment, or entered their details into the fake website? This exercise aims to ensure that your employees know what to look out for.

Whatever the result, don’t feel discouraged. Achieving a zero percent click-through and engagement rate is practically impossible. Even experts with the right training can fall for sophisticated phishing scams.

Perhaps a more realistic goal, and more effective for phishing prevention, would be to focus on the rate of employees that report the simulated phishing email to your IT team.

If just one person reports a real phishing attack, you can work on prevention and circulate news of the threat.

Targeted phishing, or spear phishing attacks, are slightly different as they focus on individual users. Read our blog post to learn more about how to prevent a targeted phishing attack.

4. Enable built-in phishing and malware protection

All your employees need to enable the phishing and malware protection functions built-in into their browser.

This smart feature warns users when they are visiting a site that has been reported to be malicious. Sites like this often contain malware.

The feature will also warn you when you’re about to download a potentially dangerous file.

5. Two factors are better than one

What can you do to prevent further damage if an employee is sucked in by a phishing scam?

Multi-factor authentication is a straightforward security measure to deploy. This feature stops an attacker from gaining access to a target account even if they manage to get through the first layer of security.

The most popular method of multi-factor authentication is to connect an account to a phone number. Users receive a one-time code via text, which acts as a second password.

In this scenario, an attacker needs both your password and your phone to hack your account.

6. Stay on top of new developments

The methods hackers use to infiltrate accounts develop all the time. Luckily, so do the systems in place to prevent them.

As attack strategies evolve, so too must your prevention strategy. Keep your ear to the ground and eliminate newly developed threats before they become a problem.

With updated security policies and continuous training, you’ll be well on the way to securing your business.

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