Phishing scams remain one of the most prevalent and successful types of cyberattacks today, so being aware of the danger they pose to businesses like yours is extremely crucial. Your business could easily be the next victim if you don’t clearly understand how threat actors leverage phishing emails.
In this blog, you’ll learn the intent behind phishing emails, the various types of phishing attacks, and most importantly, how you can secure your email and business.
The Goal Behind Phishing Emails
Cybercriminals use phishing emails to lure unsuspecting victims into taking actions that will affect business operations, such as sending money, sharing passwords, downloading malware or revealing sensitive data. The primary intent behind a phishing attack is to steal your money, data or both.
Financial theft — The most common aim of a phishing attempt is to steal your money. Scammers use various tactics, such as business email compromise (BEC), to carry out fraudulent fund transfers or ransomware attacks to extort money.
Data theft — For cybercriminals, your data, such as usernames and passwords, identity information (e.g., social security numbers) and financial data (e.g., credit card numbers or bank account information), is as good as gold. They can use your login credentials to commit financial thefts or inject malware. Your sensitive data can also be sold on the dark web for profit.
Be vigilant and look out for these phishing attempts:
- If an email asks you to click on a link, be wary. Scammers send out phishing emails with links containing malicious software that can steal your data and personal information.
- If an email directs you to a website, be cautious. It could be a malicious website that can steal your personal information, such as your login credentials.
- If an email contains an attachment, be alert. Malicious extensions disguised to look like a document, invoice or voicemail can infect your computer and steal your personal information.
- If an email tries to rush you into taking an urgent action, such as transferring funds, be suspicious. Try to verify the authenticity of the request before taking any action.
Different Types of Phishing
It’s important to note that phishing attacks are constantly evolving and can target businesses of all sizes. While phishing emails are a common method used by cybercriminals, they also use texts, voice calls and social media messaging.
Here are the different kinds of phishing traps that you should watch out for:
Spear phishing — Scammers send highly personalized emails targeting individuals or businesses to convince them to share sensitive information such as login credentials or credit card information. Spear phishing emails are also used for spreading infected malware.
Whaling — A type of spear phishing, whale phishing or whaling is a scam targeting high-level executives where the perpetrators impersonate trusted sources or websites to steal information or money.
Smishing — An increasingly popular form of cyberattack, smishing uses text messages claiming to be from trusted sources to convince victims to share sensitive information or send money.
Vishing — Cybercriminals use vishing or voice phishing to call victims while impersonating somebody from the IRS, a bank or the victim’s office, to name a few. The primary intent of voice phishing is to convince the victim to share sensitive personal information.
Business email compromise (BEC) — A BEC is a spear phishing attack that uses a seemingly legitimate email address to trick the recipient, who is often a senior-level executive. The most common aim of a BEC scam is to convince an employee to send money to the cybercriminal while making them believe they are performing a legitimate, authorized business transaction.
Angler phishing — Also known as social media phishing, this type of scam primarily targets social media users. Cybercriminals with fake customer service accounts trick disgruntled customers into revealing their sensitive information, including bank details. Scammers often target financial institutions and e-commerce businesses.
Brand impersonation — Also known as brand spoofing, brand impersonation is a type of phishing scam carried out using emails, texts, voice calls and social media messages. Cybercriminals impersonate a popular business to trick its customers into revealing sensitive information. While brand impersonation is targeted mainly at the customers, the incident can tarnish the brand image.
Bolster Your Email Security
Emails are crucial for the success of your business. However, implementing email best practices and safety standards on your own can be challenging. That’s why you should consider partnering with a Managed IT service provider like Databranch.
We have the resources and tools to protect your business from cyberattacks, helping you to focus on critical tasks without any worry. We also have ongoing and interactive employee cybersecurity training that will help your company keep up with cybercriminals and their ever-changing tactics.
Meanwhile, to learn how to secure your inbox, download our eBook — Your Guide to Email Safety — that will help you improve your email security and avoid potential traps.
Your Guide to Email Safety
Your business, in all likelihood, already faces numerous challenges in today’s tech-driven world. However, the aftermath of an unexpected disaster can push your organization to its breaking point. This unintentionally creates opportunities for cybercriminals to launch devastating attacks, amplifying the chaos caused by such events.
Disaster preparedness should be a top priority for your business — not only for physical resilience but also for fortifying your digital defenses. By understanding how disasters fuel cyberattacks, you can proactively safeguard your business against these deceptive threats.
Understanding How Disasters Amplify Cyberthreats
Let’s look at four major ways disasters amplify cyberthreats and what strategies you can utilize to bolster your cybersecurity posture in the face of adversity.
1. Leveraging Diverted Attention and Resources
When a disaster strikes, the immediate focus shifts toward safety and recovery. Unfortunately, this diverts attention and resources away from maintaining and protecting your IT systems and networks.
With a reduced emphasis on cybersecurity measures, essential updates and monitoring may be overlooked, leaving your networks vulnerable to intrusion. Cybercriminals seize this opportunity to infiltrate your systems, compromise sensitive data and disrupt your operations.
To tackle this situation, establish a dedicated team responsible for monitoring and maintaining cybersecurity, even during times of crisis. For our managed clients, Databranch takes this one step further by implementing automated security systems to scan for vulnerabilities and apply necessary patches continuously.
By ensuring cybersecurity remains a priority, even in challenging times, you can minimize the risk of cyberattacks
2. Exploiting Fear, Urgency, Chaos and Uncertainty
Disasters create an environment of fear, urgency, chaos and uncertainty — prime conditions for cybercriminals to thrive in. They launch targeted attacks, such as deceptive emails or fraudulent websites, capitalizing on the sense of urgency and the need for quick solutions. By manipulating individuals into disclosing sensitive information, cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to critical systems. They could also sell this sensitive data on the dark web.
To combat this, educate your employees about the tactics used in phishing attacks and social engineering scams. Train them to recognize warning signs, such as suspicious emails or requests for sensitive information. Encourage a culture of skepticism and verification, where employees double-check the authenticity of requests before sharing confidential data.
By fostering a vigilant and informed workforce, you can fortify your defense against cybercriminals seeking to exploit fear and uncertainty. Visit us here to download our cybersecurity culture checklist.
3. Damaging Critical Infrastructure
Disasters can cause severe damage to your critical infrastructure, compromising components integral to your cybersecurity measures. Destruction of servers, routers or firewalls can weaken your defense mechanisms, allowing cybercriminals to exploit security gaps.
To address this challenge, ensure your critical infrastructure has backup and disaster recovery in place. Regularly back up your data, store it securely off-site or in the cloud, and test the restoration process to ensure it functions smoothly. Implement robust disaster recovery and business continuity plans, including provisions for cybersecurity.
By maintaining resilient infrastructure and regularly testing your backup and recovery processes, you can mitigate the impact of infrastructure damage on your cybersecurity.
4. Impersonation and Deception
In the wake of a disaster, cybercriminals often exploit the trust associated with relief organizations and government agencies. By impersonating these trusted sources, they deceive victims through phishing emails, messages or calls, tricking them into divulging sensitive information or engaging in fraudulent transactions.
To protect yourself from such scams:
- Encourage your employees to verify the authenticity of any communication received during a disaster.
- Advise them to independently contact the organization or agency through known, trusted channels to confirm the legitimacy of any requests.
- Establish robust security awareness training programs that educate employees about common impersonation tactics and teach them how to report them effectively.
By promoting a culture of caution and verification, you can defend against impersonation and deception tactics used by cybercriminals. Our phishing infographic is a great educational resource that can be shared with your workforce to prepare them for real life threats.
Act Now to Safeguard Your Business
Now that we know how cybercriminals can target your business during a disaster, prioritizing disaster preparedness and implementing the above-highlighted measures are important to navigate today’s ever-evolving technology landscape.
If you need expert guidance, Databranch is here to help fortify your disaster preparedness and cybersecurity efforts. Together, let’s ensure a resilient and secure future for your business. Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x6 or firstname.lastname@example.org to proactively safeguard what you’ve worked so hard to build.