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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

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The new year has just begun and it’s a time of renewal as we plan for the possibilities to come in 2023. It’s also a time when you need to plan for resiliency in the face of ever-present cyberattacks.

Sixty-eight percent of surveyed business leaders feel that cybersecurity risks are getting worse, and they have a good reason. Attacks continue to get more sophisticated. They are also often perpetrated by large criminal organizations. These criminal groups treat these attacks like a business. 

In 2021, the average number of global cyberattacks increased by 15.1%.

To protect your business in the coming year, it’s important to watch the attack trends. What new methods are hackers using? What types of attacks are increasing in volume? Knowing these things is important. It helps you better update your IT security to mitigate the risk of a data breach or malware infection.

We’ve pulled out the security crystal ball for the upcoming year and we’ve researched what cybersecurity experts are expecting. Here are the attack trends that you need to watch out for.

 

Attacks on 5G Devices

The world has been buzzing about 5G for a few years. It is finally beginning to fulfill the promise of lightning-fast internet. As providers build out the infrastructure, you can expect this to be a high-attack area.

Hackers are looking to take advantage of the 5G hardware used for routers, mobile devices, and PCs. Anytime you have a new technology like this, it’s bound to have some code vulnerabilities. This is exactly what hackers are looking to exploit.

You can prepare by being aware of the firmware security in the devices you buy. This is especially true for those enabled for 5G. Some manufacturers will build better firmware security into their designs than others. Make sure to ask about this when purchasing new devices.

 

One-Time Password (OTP) Bypass

This alarming new trend is designed to get past one of the best forms of account security. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is well-known as very effective at preventing fraudulent sign-in attempts. It can stop account takeovers even in cases where the criminal has the user’s password.

There are a few different ways that hackers try to bypass MFA. These include:

  • Reusing a token: Gaining access to a recent user OTP and trying to reuse it
  • Sharing unused tokens: The hacker uses their own account to get an OTP. Then attempts to use that OTP on a different account.
  • Leaked token: Using an OTP token leaked through a web application.
  • Password reset function: A hacker uses phishing to fool the user into resetting a password. They then trick them into handing over their OTP via text or email.

Interested in learning more about Multi-Factor Authentication and how it can enhance your businesses cybersecurity? Read more about it here.

 

Attacks Surrounding World Events

During the pandemic, the cyberattack volume increased by approximately 600%. Large criminal hacking groups have realized that world events and disasters are lucrative.

They launch phishing campaigns for world events. Attacks come for everything from the latest hurricane or typhoon to the war in Ukraine. Unsuspecting people often fall for these scams. This is because they are often distracted by the crisis.

People need to be especially mindful of scams surrounding events like these. They will often use social engineering tactics, such as sad photos, to play on the emotions.

 

Smishing & Mobile Device Attacks

Mobile devices go with us just about everywhere these days. This direct connection to a potential victim is not lost on cybercriminals. Be on the lookout for more mobile device-based attacks, including SMS-based phishing (“smishing”).

Many people aren’t expecting to receive fake messages to their personal numbers. But cell numbers are no longer as private as they once were. Hackers can buy lists of them online. They then craft convincing fake texts that look like shipping notices or receipts. One wrong click is all it takes for an account or data breach.

Mobile malware is also on the rise. During the first few months of 2022, malware targeted to mobile devices rose by 500%. It’s important to ensure that you have good mobile anti-malware. As well as other protections on your devices, such as a DNS filter.

 

Elevated Phishing Using AI & Machine Learning

These days, phishing emails are not so easy to spot. It used to be that they nearly always had spelling errors or grainy images. While some still do, most don’t.

Criminal groups elevate today’s phishing using AI and machine learning. Not only will it look identical to a real brand’s emails, but it will also come personalized. Hackers use these tactics to capture more victims. They also allow hackers to send out more targeted phishing messages in less time than in years past.

 

Schedule a Cybersecurity Check-Up Today

Is your business prepared for the cyber threats coming in 2022? Don’t wait to find out the hard way! Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x 115 or info@databranch.com to schedule a cybersecurity check-up to stay one step ahead of the digital criminals.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

In 2020, 75% of companies around the world experienced a phishing attack. Phishing remains one of the biggest dangers to your business’s health and wellbeing because it’s the main delivery method for all types of cyberattacks.

One phishing email can be responsible for a company succumbing to ransomware and having to face costly downtime. As many as 92% of data breaches are due to human error such as falling for a phishing email. This can result in a user unknowingly handing over the credentials to a company email account that the hacker then uses to send targeted attacks to customers.

Phishing takes advantage of human error, and some phishing emails use sophisticated tactics to fool the recipient into divulging information or infecting a network with malware.

Mobile phishing threats skyrocketed by 161% in 2021.

Your best safeguards against the continuous onslaught of phishing include:

  • Email filtering
  • DNS filtering
  • Next-gen antivirus/anti-malware
  • Ongoing employee cybersecurity awareness training

To properly train your employees and ensure your IT security is being upgraded to meet the newest threats you need to know what new phishing dangers are headed your way.

Here are some of the latest phishing trends that you need to watch out for in 2022.

PHISHING IS INCREASINGLY BEING SENT VIA TEXT MESSAGE

Fewer people are suspicious of text messages than they are of unexpected email messages. Most phishing training is usually focused on the email form of phishing because it’s always been the most prevalent.

But cybercrime entities are now taking advantage of the easy availability of mobile phone numbers and using text messaging to deploy phishing attacks. This type of phishing (called “smishing”) is growing in volume.

People are receiving more text messages now than they did in the past, due in large part to retailers and service businesses pushing their text updates for sales and delivery notices.

This makes it even easier for phishing via SMS to fake being a shipment notice and get a user to click on a shortened URL.

BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE IS ON THE RISE

Ransomware has been a growing threat over the last few years largely because it’s been a big money-maker for the criminal groups that launch cyberattacks. A new up-and-coming form of attack is beginning to be quite lucrative and thus is also growing.

Business email compromise (BEC) is on the rise and being exploited by attackers to make money off things like gift card scams and fake wire transfer requests.

What makes BEC so dangerous (and lucrative) is that when a criminal gains access to a business email account, they can send very convincing phishing messages to employees, customers, and vendors of that company. The recipients will immediately trust the familiar email address, making these emails potent weapons for cybercriminals.

Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your business from BEC. Reach out to Databranch with any questions or if you would like assistance setting up MFA for your companies users.

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BEING TARGETED MORE FREQUENTLY WITH SPEAR PHISHING

There is no such thing as being too small to be attacked by a hacker. Small businesses are targeted frequently in cyberattacks because they tend to have less IT security than larger companies.

43% of all data breaches target small and mid-sized companies, and 40% of small businesses that become victims of an attack experience at least eight hours of downtime as a result.

Spear phishing is a more dangerous form of phishing because it’s targeted and not generic. It’s the type deployed in an attack using BEC.

It used to be that spear-phishing was used for larger companies because it takes more time to set up a targeted and tailored attack. However, as large criminal groups and state-sponsored hackers make their attacks more efficient, they’re able to more easily target anyone.

A result is small businesses receiving more tailored phishing attacks that are harder for their users to identify as a scam.

THE USE OF INITIAL ACCESS BROKERS TO MAKE ATTACKS MORE EFFECTIVE

We just discussed the fact that large criminal groups are continually optimizing their attacks to make them more effective. They treat cyberattacks like a business and work to make them more profitable all the time.

One way they are doing this is by using outside specialists called Initial Access Brokers. This is a specific type of hacker that only focuses on getting the initial breach into a network or company account.

The increasing use of these experts in their field makes phishing attacks even more dangerous and difficult for users to detect.

BUSINESS IMPERSONATION IS BEING USED MORE OFTEN

As users have gotten savvier about being careful of emails from unknown senders, phishing attackers have increasingly used business impersonation. This is where a phishing email will come in looking like a legitimate email from a company that the user may know or even do business with.

Amazon is a common target of business impersonation, but it also happens with smaller companies as well. For example, there have been instances where website hosting companies have had client lists breached and those companies sent emails impersonating the hosting company and asking the users to log in to an account to fix an urgent problem.

More business impersonation being used in phishing attacks mean users have to be suspicious of all emails, not just those from unknown senders.

IS YOUR COMPANY ADEQUATELY PROTECTED FROM PHISHING ATTACKS?

It’s important to implement a multi-layered security strategy to defend against one of the biggest dangers to your business’s wellbeing, phishing attacks. Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to learn more about what options are available to improve your organizations cybersecurity. Our Foundation Security Plan offers a wide variety of benefits such as increasing malware/ransomware protection, reduces phishing compromises, and helps prevent data theft/loss.

To request a free Baseline Security Assessment, click here.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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