“Phishing” is the most common type of cyber-attack that affects all organisations.
Phishing attacks can take many forms, but they all share a common goal – getting you to share sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card information, or bank account details.
Although your company may maintain controls to help protect its networks and computers from cyber threats, you should rely on your employees to be your first line of defence.
By Anne Sorensen – IT Security Analyst
Different Types of Phishing Emails
Phishing: In this type of attack, hackers impersonate a real company to obtain your login credentials. You may receive an e-mail asking you to verify your account details with a link that takes you to an imposter login screen that delivers your information directly to the attackers.
Spear Phishing: Spear phishing is a more sophisticated phishing attack that includes customised information that makes the attacker seem like a legitimate source. They may use your name and phone number and refer to your company or even a client in the e-mail to trick you into thinking they have a connection to you, making you more likely to click a link or attachment that they provide.
Whaling: Whaling is a popular ploy aimed at getting you to transfer money or send sensitive information to an attacker via email by impersonating a real company executive. Using a fake domain that appears similar to ours, they look like normal emails from a high-level official of the company, typically the CEO or CFO, and ask you for sensitive information (including usernames and passwords).
Shared Document Phishing: You may receive an e-mail that appears to come from file-sharing sites like Dropbox or Google Drive alerting you that a document has been shared with you. The link provided in these e-mails will take you to a fake login page that mimics the real login page and will steal your account credentials. Occasionally these URL’s can lead to genuine file-sharing sites, though these can be set to immediately download one or multiple malicious files straight to your machine, which are able to run a script to steal information and/or cause havoc (spyware, ransomware, etc).
How To Combat Phishing Email Scams
- Your employees should be considered as your first line of defence when it comes to phishing attacks. It is their inbox that the criminals will target, so they need to be given adequate training and guidance on what to look out for.
- Do not click on links or attachments from senders that you do not recognise. Be especially wary of .zip or other compressed or executable file types.
- Do not provide sensitive personal information (like usernames and passwords) over email.
- Watch for email senders that use suspicious or misleading domain names.
- Inspect URLs carefully by hovering over them to make sure they’re legitimate and not imposter sites.
- Do not try to open any shared document that you’re not expecting to receive.
- Be especially cautious when opening attachments or clicking links if you receive an email containing a warning banner indicating that it originated from an external source.
- Mark unsolicited emails as junk so they no longer appear in your inbox. You can choose to block the sender, this places emails you’d receive from the same sender in the future straight into your junk folder.
- Be extremely cautious with checking emails in your junk folder – they are there for a reason! Only mark an email as not being junk if you are 100% confident that it isn’t spam. A good example for this would be a password reset or account activation link you have requested and expecting to receive within a certain time-frame.
- If you can’t tell if an email is legitimate or not or if you have concerns about a phishing email you have received, please refrain from responding or opening any attachments.
IT Naturally can help you with your cybersecurity needs. We offer advanced email protection tools and services that can be used on a standalone basis or as part of a managed security operations centre.