4 Signs of a Phishing Attack: Is Your Business Protected?

Although phishing is one of the oldest types of cyberattacks, it has evolved to become one of the most widespread methods for malicious attackers to steal user data and other sensitive information. Over 90% of successful cyber crimes are related to phishing scams and attacks.With the proliferation of phishing attacks, how protected is your business?

Why Corporates Fall Victim to Phishing Attacks

By masquerading as a trusted entity and convincing a victim into opening an email, instant message or text message that leads to a malicious link or installation of malware as part of a ransomware attack, these attackers are able to gain a foothold into a corporate network and access vital information such as intellectual property and finance data. It can result in companies sustaining severe financial losses as well as declining market share, reputation, and consumer trust. Big corporations are especially susceptible to falling into a phishing trap because of the sheer size of the attack surface area. More employees mean more opportunities for phishing attacks. The increasing trend in remote infrastructure and cloud-based assets has not made it any easier. It only takes one person who isn’t aware to put the entire company at risk. It does not help that phishing messages and techniques have become increasingly sophisticated. Some campaigns are able to execute hidden malware codes once an email is opened. Phishing attacks are a major threat to all organisations due to this level of capability and high success rate. As such, it is important for organisations to mitigate this threat and get ahead of the game by having a well-defined security strategy to detect, prevent, and respond to phishing attacks.

4 common signs of a phishing attempt

Being able to spot a phishing attempt can help you become less likely to fall victim to it and reduce the threat. Although there is a wide variety of phishing emails, there are a few common signs that allow you to identify phishing scam.

1) Misspelling

One of the easiest ways of recognising a phishing attack is by checking if the email contains poor grammar or misspellings. Emails from legitimate companies are usually checked extensively for spelling, grammar and legality errors. If you receive an unexpected email from a company that is riddled with odd phrasing and poor language, that is usually an indicator that the email is a phishing attempt. More sophisticated phishing emails may look completely legitimate and sound accurate but may have misspelt domain names or extra subdomains. Since phishing emails tend to resemble their legitimate counterpart, recipients must be extra alert to avoid being caught with their guard down and unaware that an attack is happening.

2) Tone and language

Analyse the tone and language of the email. Phishing emails try to instil panic by incorporating a sense of urgency or threat in the email. Applying pressure causes users to be less diligent and more prone to error. This is especially true during times of crisis when people are more on edge. As employees look for direction from their employers, government or other relevant authorities, they can become less cautious and accidentally fall victim to phishing scams.

Be suspicious if the tone of the email is overly familiar or a little too formal for the relationship that you have. When the tone of the email is different from what it normally is, that can be a sign of a phishing attack. While some phishing emails distract you with difficult jargon and complicated information, others provide sparse information and rely on their ambiguity to lure victims.

3) Suspicious attachments

Phishing emails tend to include attachments and links that can lead to unintentional downloading of malware or viruses which can severely harm the corporate network. Scan any email that comes in with suspicious links or unfamiliar extensions with anti-virus software as a precaution.

4) Unusual requests

Be suspicious if an email requests for personal details, credentials, or payment information. Legitimate companies do not usually ask for sensitive information through emails as there is too much risk involved. Be wary of emails with unusual demands and promises of attractive rewards. If something seems out of the norm, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if an email looks authentic and genuine, you should double-check to make sure that it is actually from a trusted source.

Phishing prevention, detection & response

Mitigate the threat of phishing attacks by having a coordinated and multilayer approach to security. Cover all the bases with a security strategy that includes a prevention, protection, and response aspect.

People are the first point of contact for phishing scams. That is why knowing how to protect themselves from potential phishing attacks is crucial for phishing prevention. Make sure that everyone within the company is fully aware of what phishing is and the harm that it can cause by raising awareness among the workforce. Phishing campaigns like that from Barracuda PhishLine provide security awareness training and better assessment of staff awareness. Phishing emails don’t necessarily come as a new or standalone email. Teach employees how to spot phishing scams and diminish the threat of phishing attacks by enforcing secure practices. It is important to schedule regular updated security awareness training since phishing techniques are constantly evolving. Transform your employees into smart skeptics. You should also consider encrypting all sensitive company information in order to prevent attackers from obtaining sensitive information even when they manage to get inside the system. This is especially necessary as remote working and telecommunication become progressively more common. Companies should enforce strict password management policies in order to make it more difficult for malicious attackers to take advantage of employees. The most common password policies include those that require employees to frequently change their passwords and not be allowed to reuse a password for multiple applications. These methods are only a few ways that a company can do to prevent any possible phishing attacks.

With the prevalence of phishing attacks and the ample attacking surface area, companies should have multiple defences that include a combination of different threat solutions such as email threat protection, protection against cloud phishing and cloud-enabled threats, network security solutions, virus scanning solutions, and multi-factor authentication to better protect against phishing attacks.

Incorporate email threat protections like Barracuda Total Email Protection to examine incoming emails for suspicious links or attachments. Enable threat protection solutions like that from Netskope to help to fight against cloud-enabled threats. Network security solutions such as FireEye Email filter through email or spam to detect viruses and blank senders automatically while firewalls block out malicious requests and malware injection attempts by compromised insiders. Anti-virus solutions detect any vulnerabilities within the network, recognise malicious activities from existing malware inside the system while neutralising malware found in phishing emails. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra verification layer. Better protect sensitive applications by requiring employees to utilise not only a knowledge-based authentication but also a biometric factor or a possession factor which refers to something that a user possesses like a mobile phone or a smart card. This way, even when employees are compromised, it can prevent the use of their compromised credentials since there are multiple verification layers. Remember to keep all systems updated and current with the latest security patches in order to better protect your network.

Lastly, companies should have an effective response strategy for when phishing attacks inevitably happen. Incident response systems such as the IBM Resilient SOAR (Security orchestration, automation, and response) Platform uses a solution stack of compatible software programs to allow an organisation to not only collect data against security threats from multiple sources but also respond to low-level security events without human assistance. By making sure that the incident response processes are clearly defined and consistently executed, human error is minimised at every step. This type of response solution is ideal since new anti-phishing processes and technologies can be easily adapted to any workflow process. Centralised security management can also help to reduce response and detection time with centralised data and increased visibility. Enterprises can centralise control and distribution while minimising cost and time by employing solutions like Crowdstrike’s Falcon X which allows companies to review critical logs after the attack to trace back to the source.

Why Argentra

Argentra provides IT security solutions, security risk consulting, and custom security software as a recognised technical specialist in information security and premier provider of information infrastructure management solutions in the Asia Pacific market. Contact us here to learn more about information security or ask about our consultation services to better protect your corporation’s sensitive and confidential information.

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