How do you define phishing?
Phishing refers to the method of sending an email to a recipient allegedly from a person they know or a service they are acquainted with, which is in fact a fraud that is socially engineered. These emails consist of links that lead to malware infiltrating your system, prompt users to fill in authorisation data, or they could gain sensitive information that can help them attack on a grander scale.
The last few years have witnessed organisations wisen up to these shenanigans and protect themselves from being exploited. However, this has led the attackers to evolve their methods resulting in the consultants, users and remote control tools becoming the focus of attacks instead. These attacks can cause serious financial damage to a company that is not prepared for it. It also hits the reputation of the organisation, which causes customers to question it's reliability.
How does phishing cause extensive damage?
Phishing attacks find and exploit the crevices of your email system and some of the most top notch security technologies that you might have employed to protect your website. This is what makes them so successful. Email is most often sent using Office 365 or Exchange. It is easy for these platforms to nab spam and malicious links, to protect you from it. Unfortunately, a majority of phishing attacks have mastered the art of not seeming extensively malicious. Social psychology is employed here to weasel out personal, as well as, confidential information from the users. Emails are able to weasel their way undetected by containing URL links which do not show up on the radar of security systems and are considered safe, to then be wrought with malware later.
Phishing Websites are run under the same principle. They are highly sophisticated in tricking users to insert details of their credit cards and account logins, that can be used by the hacker or be easily sold to a third party. The antivirus that you might install on your desktop can still be easily tricked by the ever evolving types of phishing.
To protect you from it a phishing stimulation can be used, but it won't be useful unless the users are well acquainted with it. Here are some of the preventive measures companies and users can take.
What is a phishing simulation?
Phishing simulation includes sending fake phishing emails to your employees to gauge how they would react in these situations. These programs are conducted to keep your organisation safe. You can test the security of your IT by employing phishing simulation technology to test and train your employees in all aspects of phishing. However, you have to effectively train your employees and users before you test them. Here are some pointers you can provide to help them navigate phishing attempts.
Teach them to detect problem links
Let your employees and users know that they should avoid sites beginning with HTTP as they might be unsecured. Instead, stick to HTTPS links that have legitimate basis. Even experts are at times unable to determine if an SSL certificate is valid and has root certificate linkage. Hence all you can do is teach how to ensure that the sites are safe to be accessed by checking if they have a padlock and site certificates. You can also put browser tools in place to make sure that SSL is used.
Your users should be informed to wait before clicking and just hover above the links. Teach them ways to review emails, regardless of whether your final or email software has an enabled link filtering system. If they still aren't clear, you can explain your process including reviewing emails.
Strong password protection
There should be clarity about the many ways attackers can trick users with manipulative headlines to gain their password or other credentials. We are on the precipice of change in credential management practices. While the norm earlier was to change our credentials several times to avoid being hacked, it unfortunately led to people only changing a bit of the password in order to remember it. In today's day, we have two factor authentication that does not always include passwords, to help protect accounts better. Ensure that your users are aware why the shift took place.
Introduce them to the various methods attackers use
Let your users know that their own actions at times lead to attackers deciding to target them. Attackers are well aware of the information users are looking for. These themes can vary from Covid-19 to black lives matter protests. They know the direction in which the search of information is going to bend based on political, socio-economic and several other such factors.
Hence, phishing started with receiving false emails from the World Health Organisation that might ask users for their personal information or message malicious links involved. Then it evolved to BLM related email links. You should let your users know that needs itself should be believed only from reliable sources and to not browse our click on unknown links.
Give examples of links that can be trusted
Teach your users to not randomly open links from unknown emails and to ensure it is a trusted link. In case, you have been requested to change your password, go to the official site and change the password rather than in the link given within the email. You should also have a reliable administrators workspace set up for the administrators. Since the administrator has to deal with several administrative links, it is better to have a trusted filter to open them through.
The various precautions mentioned in this article will aid you in putting a stop to it reducing phishing attacks substantially. Hence, the chances of your employees or users handing over their credentials or money to strangers online is reduced or eliminated.
Social engineering can prove to be a bane, but providing vulnerable people that are prone to being targeted, with training to be aware of security and powerful technological defences goes a long way in keeping phishing attacks at bay.
You can also ask your web hosting service for protection from phishing from their end. It's a perfect way to keep your organisation, it's employees and users safe.