Phishing Scams 101
Phishing scams have become a pervasive threat to businesses of all sizes and industries. These attacks involve the use of deceptive emails, texts, and phone calls to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information or clicking on a link that infects their device with malware. The consequences of a successful phishing attack can be devastating for a business, including loss of data, financial losses, and damage to reputation. In this article, we will explore in-depth how phishing scams affect businesses and what steps they can take to protect themselves.
This guide is by no means a comprehensive instruction on all aspects of phishing scams, it is intended as an introduction to Phishing scams in the workplace and could be a useful starting point as you develop of your broader strategy for cybersecurity training of employees. For more in depth and technical information please take a look at some of our other blog posts such as https://www.piesecurity.com/most-common-email-attacks/
Loss of Data
One of the most significant consequences of a successful phishing attack is the loss of data. Cybercriminals can use stolen login credentials or other sensitive information to access company systems and steal valuable data such as customer information, financial data, and intellectual property. This loss of data can have serious consequences for businesses, including loss of revenue, regulatory fines, and damage to reputation.
In addition, data breaches can be costly to remediate. Businesses must investigate the breach, notify customers and regulatory agencies, and implement measures to prevent future breaches. These costs can add up quickly and can be especially burdensome for small and medium-sized businesses.
Phishing attacks can also result in significant financial losses for businesses. Cybercriminals can use stolen information to conduct fraudulent transactions, steal funds, or trick employees into wiring funds to a fraudulent account. In some cases, these losses can be catastrophic and can even lead to bankruptcy.
Furthermore, businesses may also face legal and regulatory repercussions if they are found to be in violation of data protection laws or if they fail to adequately protect their customers’ data. In some cases, businesses may be held liable for damages resulting from a data breach, further compounding the financial impact of a successful phishing attack.
Damage to Reputation
The impact of a successful phishing attack can extend beyond financial losses and data breaches. These attacks can also damage a business’s reputation, especially if the breach involves sensitive customer information. Customers may lose trust in the business and may choose to take their business elsewhere, resulting in lost revenue and long-term damage to the business’s reputation.
In addition, businesses may face negative media coverage and public scrutiny following a data breach. This negative publicity can further damage the business’s reputation and make it more challenging to attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Preventing Phishing Scams
Preventing phishing scams requires a multi-faceted approach that includes employee education, technological solutions, and a strong security posture. Here are some steps that businesses can take to protect themselves from phishing attacks:
Employee education is one of the most critical steps in preventing phishing attacks. Businesses should provide regular training on phishing awareness and ensure that employees are aware of the risks of phishing and how to identify and report suspicious emails, texts, and phone calls. The rise of mobile surface attacks means employees should be aware of threats if they are using and sharing their personal mobile phone number for work emails and calls.
Implement Strong Authentication Measures
Implementing strong authentication measures such as two-factor authentication (2FA) can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information. By requiring an additional authentication factor, such as a code sent to a mobile device, 2FA can make it much more challenging for cybercriminals to access business accounts and data.
Use Anti-Phishing Software
Anti-phishing software can help protect businesses from phishing attacks by detecting and blocking phishing emails and websites. This software can also provide real-time alerts to employees and administrators when a potential phishing attack is detected. What may seem like an expensive or irrelevant expense, could well become a costly mistake if you find yourself exposed to a phishing scam.
Keep Software Up to Date
Phishing attacks often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software. Businesses should ensure that all software used by employees, including operating systems, web browsers, and plugins, is up to date and has the latest security patches. Smaller businesses that do not use centralised or server-based software are particularly vulnerable in this case as they tend to have a variety of business and personal software utilised on several devices, especially where contractors are involved and given temporary access to some systems. It’s important to try and keep a sense of who is using what and where, even if you are all working hybrid/remotely in a small team.
Monitor Email Traffic
Monitoring email traffic can help businesses detect and respond to phishing attacks quickly. Businesses can implement an email security solution that can analyse incoming and outgoing email traffic for threats, phishing scams and other not necessarily malicious but nonetheless distracting and server draining spam.
In summary, phishing scams are evolving at an intimidating rate, they make up ore than half of all cyberattacks and that looks like a trend that is only set to rise. With artificial intelligence and huge data farms collecting and inventing ever more trustworthy seeming emails, calls and texts, now is the time to start training and educating your colleagues and employees about the risk presented by phishing scams.
Pie Security’s email encryption can support your business in protecting against phishing scams and cybercriminals, our knowledge and training can also help you make GDPR compliance simpler. Book a Demo today and let us help you protect your business and customers.