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Phishing attacks are one of the most common forms of cyber threat faced by companies today. Both individuals and businesses are at risk with criminals targeting a wide range of data from bank details to passwords and personal information.

Hackers use emails, social media feeds, phone calls and text messages amongst other ways to target their victims. Spotting the telltale signs of a phishing attack is vital to stopping them. 

To help businesses understand the risks involved with phishing attacks and how to spot them, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on what they are and what you can do to keep your data safe.

 

What is Phishing?


Phishing is much like actual fishing; scammers will use bait, like a fraudulent email, to lure victims into giving up their personal data. Often these fraudulent messages look legitimate, with branding and images used to fool the recipient.

However, the emails contain links that when clicked will infect your computer and allow the sender to search for and harvest sensitive data. Learning to spot these emails and tell them apart from legitimate communications is the key to ensuring cyber safety.

 

How to Recognise Phishing Scams


The most common way that phishing scams are carried out is via email, although increasingly scammers are using other channels like social media and text messages. They will target things like account passwords and payment details. If they gain access to your accounts then you are at serious risk of being defrauded.

Scammers send out thousands of messages at any one time, hoping that the recipients cannot identify them and fall for their trick. Unfortunately, this has proven to be a highly successful method with millions of pounds being lost to phishing scams every year.

Although criminals regularly update their tactics, thankfully there are some things you can do to spot these malicious messages.

 

Learn to Identify Email That You Trust  

Phishing emails and text messages are usually disguised to appear like they are from a well-known company. Banks, credit card companies, e-commerce sites and social networks are often used as cover. Increasingly, subscription services such as Netflix have been the go-to cover for scammers. 

 

These emails will often include some kind of story or incentive that encourages you to click the link or open an attachment. There are some giveaway signs that all is not right:

 

●    Claiming to have spotted suspicious activity on your account 
●    Claiming there is some sort of problem with the login details to a certain account 
●    Asking you to include personal information (like passwords)
●    Including fake invoices 
●    Including links that look suspicious (lots of random letters/numbers)
●    Offering coupons 
●    Claiming to be from the government and that you are entitled to a refund
●    The email address that the message has been sent from is not from the company domain
●    The messaging is not specific to you and seems generic (doesn’t use your name for example)

 

How to Protect Against Phishing 


Setting up solid spam filters is an excellent way to stop a large portion of phishing emails from getting through, but they are not 100% effective and scammers will find a way to outsmart them eventually. Having multiple layers of protection is the best course of action.

 

Protect Your Computer With Cyber Security Software


Use software with advanced threat protection to keep your hardware and wider network safe. Make sure all security software you use is set to update automatically as many firmware updates help bolster defences against phishing. 

 

Protect Your Mobile Devices  


It’s important to also protect any mobile devices you use. Having updates set to automatic means you won’t miss any potentially vital security improvements.

 

Utilise 2-Factor Authentication

Lots of websites and apps now allow users to enable 2-factor authentication (2FA). This means that not only will you need to enter your password but you will also need to submit a code that is given to you via an affiliated mobile device or through a linked security code generator (this is usually an app).

If you are using a smartphone then you can also set 2FA to use a scan of your face or fingerprint as authentication.

By enabling this level of security you stop criminals from being able to access your data even if they steal your passwords.   

 

Back Your Data Up

As with pretty much all cyber threats, another key defence is backing your data up. Make sure that backups are stored offline so hackers cannot access those either. Doing this provides an insurance policy against data loss  - make sure mobile data is also backed up.

 

What to do if You Suspect Phishing


If you receive a suspicious email or message then ask yourself these questions:

1.    Do you have an account with the company claiming to have sent the message?
2.    Would it make sense for this company to be messaging you?
3.    Does the sender’s contact information look legitimate?

If you are concerned about the content of the message then contact the company directly for validation. If the message is confirmed to be a scam then report it and block the sender.

For more information on how to keep yourself safe from cyber threats then head to our blog for more resources. Alternatively, contact our team today to find out how Deep Secure can help to keep your business’ data safe.


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