Think before you click – phishing awareness training for businesses

Woman smiling with phishing emails text.

One wrong click can cause a domino effect of security breaches and sabotaged systems for your business. As the most widespread cybercrime, phishing attacks are not new to companies. Cybercrime has risen over the past few years due to an increased dependency on technology and more companies implementing Work-From-Home policies.

Even businesses with the most advanced security software fall victim to phishing attacks. Managers often overlook employees’ impact on data privacy, leading them to fall victim to cyber-attacks. After all, any employee that uses technology is an end-user and increases the risk of exposure to hackers. Companies can implement a simple solution to protect their assets by training employees on cyber security. This article will cover the do’s and don’ts to combat phishing attacks.

What is a phishing attack?

As a cyber-attack you might have encountered in your personal and work life, phishing is the practice of sending out illegitimate messages through email, text, or other means of communication to steal user data. These attacks often appear to come from reputable sources, so it’s crucial to think before you click. A new report shows that each phishing email costs upwards of $85.33, so it’s essential to know the best practices to prevent phishing scams. In this article, we’ll learn how to spot phishing emails within your organization, so your business stays protected.

How to spot phishing emails

1. Urgency

It’s a fight-or-flight response to direct all your attention to anything marked as “important.” Cybercriminals often use words like “high priority” or “urgent” to push the receiver to act. By acting quickly, employees are less likely to notice any subtle errors that point to a phishing scam. You’ll frequently find that these urgent requests threaten the receiver with a negative consequence, so it’s essential to take extra time to comb through the message for your safety. 

2. Suspicious attachments

Collaboration is vital for businesses working online, so file-sharing has become a common way to communicate between employees. However, issues arise when employees click on attachments in emails because many phishing scams are known for having suspicious attachments. Similarly, phishing emails often contain suspicious links, too. Once a user clicks on these links, malware may be installed on your device. Even scarier, the attacker could receive basic user data, including your appropriate location and device information.

3. Personal information requests

Any email asking for your personal information, including your name, date of birth, and financial information, represents a phishing scam. Say a company-wide phishing scam is sent out to everyone – it’s now in your employee’s hands to know how to recognize a phishing email. A few content examples of these scams are when the attacker:

  • Requests a payment to steal your financial information
  • Attaches a suspicious invoice you don’t recognize
  • Offers a deal for a free or highly-discounted item
  • Says you must confirm personal information
  • Claims they’ve noticed failed log-in attempts

4. Bad grammar and spelling mistakes

Inaccuracies in grammar and spelling are often a tell-tale sign that you’ve come across a phishing scam. We’re all prone to making these mistakes, so we must watch closely for these easy-to-miss signals. However, confusing grammar that might not make sense to the user at first glance often plagues phishing emails. If this is the case, double-check the sender and avoid clicking any links!

5. Inconsistencies

It’s common for phishing emails to mimic well-known organizations to build credibility. However, looking for inconsistencies within the message influences your first action, so it’s crucial to always be on your toes. For example, if the email requests money from PayPal, but the link attached does not include the online payment system’s name in the domain, you’re most likely dealing with a scam. Also, the email domains usually have misspellings when trying to mimic a reputable company, so keep a close watch.

6. “Too good to be true” promises

Similarly to urgent requests, “too good to be true” promises work by using our emotions against us. As humans, it’s natural to act immediately on things that will benefit us, but that’s not the case for phishing. As convincing as a phishing scam might be, if the offer sounds too good to be true, you and your employees are better off reporting the link as a phishing scam. It’s not worth putting your company information and sensitive data at risk for a free and exclusive gift.

Recommendations for avoiding phishing scams

1. Double-check the message before responding

Always look for inconsistencies, mistakes, and any of the above before acting on a phishing scam. If something seems fishy, don’t click on it.

2. Verify with the sender separately

If the email is sent from someone who may work at the company, going the extra mile to ensure the sender exists will save your company money and time. Don’t forward the suspicious email – instead, send them a message separately.

3. Report or flag it

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you or your employees come across a phishing email, report the email with a Sophos Phish Threat add-in if you’re using Exchange or Office 365.

4. Implement simulations and train employees

The first line of defense against phishing threats is your employees, so it’s crucial to inform your largest attack surface, your end-users, properly. We offer phishing attack simulations to help employees recognize, avoid, and report phishing threats in preparation for an actual attack.

Stay protected with the right resources

Cybercriminals often search for weak links to expose sensitive company information. Regarding phishing, these “weak links” comprise end-users or anyone with access to technology. At Parried, our cyber security experts assist businesses with phishing, malware attacks, and any cyber security needs to help companies to stay protected. The first step to having a robust cybersecurity strategy is knowledge, so learn how to gain a complete IT security suite and responsive IT support to safeguard your business from cyber-attacks with Parried.

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