Cybersecurity Awareness Month: 12 Tips To Help You And Your Company Dodge The Phishing Hook

by | October 18, 2021 | How to, ATTACK Simulator Guides, Cybersecurity

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Cybersecurity Awareness Month. So, what better time to improve your hook-dodging ability, especially with phishing becoming a hacker’s favorite leisure activity?

Keep reading to discover twelve tips that will help you keep scammers gone phishing at bay.

Cybersecurity awareness month was initiated in October 2004.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month – An Initiative To Strive For A Safer Online Environment

Cybersecurity Awareness Month was initiated by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in October 2004 in a joint effort to educate all Americans on how to stay safer and more secure online.

When Cybersecurity Awareness Month launched, the awareness efforts revolved around recommendations such as updating your antivirus software at least twice a year, much like the efforts around replacing batteries in smoke alarms.

Since its original inception, Cybersecurity Awareness Month has grown exponentially, reaching end consumers, businesses of all sizes, corporations, educational institutions, healthcare providers, and young people worldwide. Now, in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month continues to build momentum and gain more traction and popularity with each October.

The Phishing Hook’s Mechanisms

Phishing is a cyberattack in which cybercrooks masquerade as a reputable entity/person, using various ways of online communication to spread poisoned links or attachments that can perform a wide array of functions, but to one single end: stealing your data and using it for financial gain.

This form of online fraud uses sneaky and cunning social engineering techniques that allow cybercriminals who exploit human trust to grab onto your sensitive data, which is a lot easier than breaching a computer’s or a network’s defenses.

These attacks use highly sophisticated obfuscation strategies to circumvent defenses. More often than not, they’re invisible to the user and bypass Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and secure email gateways (SEGs).

Phishing scams are becoming more popular because of how easy they are to conduct and their potential to net the phishers a nice payout.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Business From Phishing?

1. Use security software

Installing security software solutions is your company’s first line of defense against phishing attacks. Antivirus programs, spam filters, and firewall programs are effective against such malicious attempts. You can also use web filters to prevent your employees from visiting potentially malicious websites.

2. Update your software regularly

Never underestimate the power of security updates and patches for vulnerabilities. Keeping software updated reduces the risk of falling victim to a phishing scam. Schedule regular updates, preferably install updates the moment they become available, and continually supervise the status of all software and technologies. The FTC recommends keeping the following updated:

  • Security software
  • Operating system software
  • Internet browsers and apps

3. Protect your employees who work remotely

Implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in your company is critical in protecting your email from phishing scams in case you have remote workers. Also, require encryption for employees who work remotely and connect them to your server over a VPN to prevent access to phishing websites.

4. Schedule regular backups

When did you last check your backup, incident response, and recovery plan? If your answer is ‘I can’t quite remember,’ ‘I’m not sure,’ or straight up a head scratch, you most likely need to do it ASAP. Scheduling regular backups helps make sure that your data can be fully recoverable in case of an incident.

5. Strengthen your password policies

Establish policies to enforce password expiration along with protocols that state allowed passwords. Minimum password length, numbers, and special characters help create complex passwords that are more difficult to hack. You can also consider using password managers.

6. Use multi-factor authentication

Require at least two-factor authentication to log in to company accounts. Using multi-factor authentication prevents attackers who have stolen a user’s credentials from breaking further into your systems.

7. Provide security awareness training for your employees

Cybersecurity awareness is a crucial factor in protecting your company against phishing scams. It would be best if you taught your employees to spot potential phishing attacks, software that looks suspicious and can be malicious, and other threats. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

What Can Your Employees Do To Prevent Phishing Scams?

8. Be wary of emails from unknown senders

Spam filters should help prevent malicious messages from making it into your employees’ inboxes. However, some of them can trick protection software and reach them anyway. So, you should have your employees take the following steps to reduce risk:

  • If an email looks suspicious (even if it’s from someone you trust), forward it back to the sender to confirm rather than respond to them.
  • When in doubt, call the sender directly to confirm the email.

9. Think Before You Click

Clicking on links in random emails and instant messages is definitely a no-no! It’s highly advisable that you instruct your employees to hover over URLs before clicking on them. They may discover that those links don’t lead where they’re supposed to.

10. Do Not Give Away Pesonal Information

As a thumb rule, educate your employees not to share personal, financial, or company-related information over the Internet unless they know for sure it’s with the proper person/organization.

When in doubt, access the main website of the company in question, get their telephone number, and give them a call. Most phishing emails will direct you to pages where you’re required to fill in your financial or personal information. It would be best if you never made confidential entries through the URLs provided in emails. Never send an email with sensitive data to anyone. Make it a habit to check the address of the website. A secure website always starts with “https.”

11. Beware of spoofing

Spoofing scams can trick even the most vigilant. An example of spoofing involves creating an email address very similar to the one of someone you know. For instance, “emmasanders@acme.com” could be changed to “ernmasanders@acme.com.” These phishing scams can be extremely dangerous if those impersonated are in a management position or from companies you know. In addition, some scammers include legitimate company logos in their emails to make them appear genuine and trustworthy.

12. Analyze the email content thoroughly

Phishers often run phishing scams from other countries. While phishing campaigns are highly sophisticated, many of them have all sorts of mistakes that are easy to spot if you’re paying enough attention. Spelling and grammar errors, content, and images that seem a tad bit off are the most common giveaway of a phishing email.

Boost Your Company’s Defense Against Phishing Scams With ATTACK Simulator

You need security awareness training for your employees for many reasons:

  • To prevent cyberattacks and breaches
  • To strenghten your technological defenses
  • To attract more customers
  • To make you more socially responsible
  • To empower your employees
  • To meet compliance standards
  • To prevent downtimes and maintain a good reputation

Our realistic phishing simulations will expose your employees to life-like hands-on fake phishing attacks.

Here are some awesome perks of choosing us:

  • Automated attack simulation – we simulate all kinds of cyberattacks: phishing, malware, ransomware, spear-phishing, identity theft, online privacy attacks, online scams etc.
  • Real-life scenarios – we evaluate users’ vulnerability to give company-related or pesonal data away using realistic web-pages.
  • User behavior analysis – we gather user data and compile it in extensive reports to give you a detailed picture of your employees’ security awareness level.
  • Malicious file replicas – our emails contain malware file replicas, to make the simulation as realistic as it can be.
  • Interactive lessons – if employees fail to recognize our traps and fall into one, they will be redirected to landing pages with quick reads on the best security practices.
  • We impersonate popular brands on our simulated phishing pages – the user will be more tempted to click on the URL or open the attachment in the email.

ATTACK Simulator’s Security Awareness Training program will help you equip your employees with the necessary security knowledge and up-to-date security practices to keep your company safe from scammers and avoid potentially irreparable damage.

Attribution:

Photo by Anna Marie on Unsplash

Internet illustrations by Storyset

Work illustrations by Storyset

by Diana Panduru

Content writer for Attack Simulator. Passionate about all things writing and cybersecurity, and obsessed with driving. I sometimes indulge in pencil drawing, poetry, and cooking for fun.

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