Phishing Prevention: 8 Dead Giveaways That You’re Being Phished

by | September 20, 2021 | How to, Cybersecurity

Nowadays, it’s no secret that bad guys love to go phishing and throw the bait to the most unsuspecting targets: your employees. In this article, we’ll walk you through the 8 most common red flags of a phishing email to help you boost phishing prevention in your company.

Phishing prevention practices are highly recommended in any company.

What is Phishing?

 is a cunning cyberattack in which ill-intended email senders masquerade as a trustworthy person/entity to get ahold of the victim’s data and money, a “fishy” play-pretend, pun intended. The bigger the company, the more it will draw unwanted attention, and the more complicated the consequences of such an attack may get.

This form of online fraud uses subtle and deceitful social engineering tricks that enable cybercriminals who know which psychological button to push to steal the victim’s sensitive data, which is far easier than breaking through a computer’s or a network’s security system.

More often than it should, “fishy” isn’t “fishy” enough to stop one’s itchy finger from clicking on that temptatious link and from giving their sensitive information, thus compromising their entire company.

Phishing Prevention – How Can Your Employees Detect Phishing Emails?

We agree with most security professionals that anti-phishing practices for organizations must include regular and effective security awareness training to teach your employees how to spot the red flags of a phishing email. This is needed especially because threat actors always find ways to sneak a malicious email into one of your employees’ inboxes without being detected by common technology controls.

Phishing emails are often highly sophisticated and hard to tell from the real deal. They are designed to evade detection during an email filter’s front-end tests by having the right Sender Policy Frameworks and SMTP controls.

Once the phishing email makes it into a target’s inbox, the only remaining defense against a potentially devastating attack is the vigilance of your employees.

We’ve compiled a list of 8 ways to recognize the characteristics commonly found in phishing emails and improve anti-phishing practices in your company:

1. Emails Repeatedly Asking The Recipient To Take Urgent Action

Scammers use this strategy to distract the target or cause stress/panic. Typically, this type of email also includes a negative consequence if the employee fails to take the required action. No one wants to look bad in front of their boss, so targets are so keen to avoid the negative consequence that they overlook inconsistencies or indications that the email may be bogus.

2. Emails With Spelling Errors

Most organizations now use spell-checking features in email clients or web browsers to ensure communications maintain a clean and professional appearance. Emails pretending to come from a reputable, professional source that contains spelling or grammatical mistakes should be studied carefully and treated with suspicion.

3. Emails With An Unfamiliar Greeting

Usually, emails sent by friends and co-workers start with an informal greeting. Those addressed to “Dear Jane” when that salutation is not normally used, and those using an unfamiliar language should not be actioned or replied to. What your employees should do instead is report them to the company’s IT security team.

4. Emails Sent From Unfamiliar Addresses

Your employees should always check the sender’s email address, especially when an email address belonging to a regular contact is unfamiliar. It’s possible to spot inconsistencies by checking the sender’s address against previous emails received from the same person and avoid a disaster.

Scammers can easily disguise links to malicious websites to appear genuine. Therefore, the classic method of hovering the mouse pointer over it to see what ‘pops up’ is advisable.

6. Emails Containing Suspicious Attachments

Collaboration tools such as Dropbox, OneDrive, or SharePoint are widely used for file sharing, so emails from colleagues with file attachments should be treated with caution – especially if the attachment has an unfamiliar extension or one commonly used to deliver malware (.zip, .exe, .scr, etc.).

7. Emails Too Good To Be True

Generally speaking, if something seems too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. The same goes for phishing emails, which attackers craft so that they entice the target into clicking a link or opening an attachment with the false promise of a benefit.

8. Emails Requesting Sensitive Data

Often, phishing emails ask for login credentials, payment information, or other sensitive data, claiming that the employee needs to update a password, provide payment details, make a wire transfer, and so on. Therefore, any email requesting those should be treated with caution.

Educate Your Employees With ATTACK Simulator’s Phishing Simulations

Thinking you’ll dodge the bullet (or hook)? Think again. Figures paint a rather grim cybercrime landscape.

Phishing attacks can be catastrophic, resulting in immense financial damage or even the end of your business.

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 irremediable damage.

Everything being said, would your employees take the bait? Put them to the test with our free security awareness training trial and know for sure!


Feature Image: Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Web 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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