Email communication even today remains a valuable tool because of its ubiquity. Organizations across various industries depend on business email as their primary means of reaching out to clients and employees as well as other stakeholders.
Although cybersecurity threats can spread through various channels, attackers know they can target more victims if they go through email. For this reason, email remains the top threat vector even in 2019.
Attacking individuals or organization through email is known as phishing, which is the most prevalent form of social engineering. Cybercriminals and hackers make effective use of phishing techniques for different reasons. Some might use it to compromise your bank account while others use such schemes to spread malware and to have sensitive information about your business. Whatever, the reason might be, it’s not suitable for any reason. So, what should you do to prevent phishing?
Well! To aid our readers, we will first discuss how phishing scam is a significant problem in the cybersecurity world and how to detect such scams. Later the article will discuss a response strategy for email phishing. Just read on now!
How has phishing become a severe concern for cybersecurity?
Phishing emails are one of the most effective and popular means for an attacker to gain access to the victim’s environment. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report of 2017, phishing remains on the top variety of social attack, used in over 90% of breaches and incidents.
Over the past few years, phishing has become a viable business for cyber-criminals. The 2018 Internet Crime Report reveals that the FBI recorded losses of $45 million from 26,379 victims of phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are becoming polymorphic each passing day, and for this reason, it has become a severe concern for the cybersecurity world. Instead of using a single domain, IP address, or URL to send and receive phishing emails, attackers in the previous year used various infrastructure to carry out attacks which makes them hard to filter out and stop.
Artificial intelligence will now be helping attackers to conduct phishing scams. It is found that AI can help to create content that can pass through cybersecurity filters, like email messages that look like those written by humans. Moreover, AI will not just help in collecting data, but also writing emails and calling possible victims.
How to detect phishing emails?
Phishing scams are flourishing more than ever before. It was revealed that from 2010 to 2014, phishing attacks increased by more than 162%. It cost organizations all around the globe $4.5 billion per year and more than half of the internet users receives at least one phishing email daily.
No matter what organizations do, some emails still find a way to get into your inbox. 97% of the people failed to identify a phishing email. At times, it becomes a challenging task to identify phishing emails. Following are some ways by which you can easily detect phishing emails.
Legitimate companies’ links match with the valid URL.
Any legit company won’t send you unsolicited and suspicious emails.
Legitimate companies don’t compel you to visit their websites.
Emails sent from legal firms don’t make any spelling or grammatical errors.
Legit companies don’t ask you to provide any sensitive information through email.
It only takes one untrained person to become a fool by a phishing attack and give away the information they have been protecting. Ensure that employees as well as you understand specific email phishing examples along with all the signs of a phishing attempt.
Response strategy for email phishing
At an average, the internet user receives 16 phishing emails every month, and also more than 50% of the business organizations claim to be a victim of the phishing attack.
Being the owner of a firm, you have to make sure that combating phishing should be your utmost priority. It means that you need to get your employees on board to play a significant role in preventing phishing. For this reason, it is vital to draft a response strategy for phishing emails.
Effective phishing prevention strategy requires everyone to be fully aware of what phishing is, be mindful of the harm it can cause, identify any current attacks, and stay cautious for any possible phishing attack. For this to take place, the following five things should be part of your response strategy.
1. Use the right tools
When you are well aware of what phishing attacks are and how they are going to pose a problem for you, the next important thing you need to do is to lay down the right tools to protect and secure your system from phishing attacks.
Now, there is anti-phishing software to prevent you from becoming victims of phishing scams. Sometimes it is as easy as installing and running an efficient anti-virus software which protects the computer from attacks.
After installing that software, it can easily detect any vulnerability, recognize malicious activities from the existing malware in the system, and also neutralize malware that is present in the phishing emails. There is other software too that examines emails to detect any suspicious link or attachment which was sent along with it.
2. Educate and train employees about their role in information security
Educate your employees regarding their roles in information security to combat phishing attacks. The reason for doing so is simple; apart from being the first point of contact for phishing scams, employees act as a bridge between the company and the attacker. Therefore, they must know what steps should be taken to protect themselves from potential phishing scams.
The most important role an employee play when it comes to information security is to protect the organization’s sensitive information. It is essential to raise the employee’s awareness of phishing. Protecting an organization’s information comes with increasing their knowledge of what phishing is and how scammers use this technique to get confidential information they want.
It means that the employees need to learn that they have to be alert of the emails they receive along with the links and attachments which accompany any unsolicited and suspicious emails.
3. Instruct employees on how they can take action
When you receive a phishing email, it will encourage you to click on a link, download an attachment or give away your personal information. People who understand the dangers of phishing emails will act more cautious when such emails hit their inbox.
Involve your employees in constant cybersecurity training or other orientation at work. Such practices will help them to become more aware when it comes to emails they receive.
Phishing emails always leave some clues. Some might have grammatical and spelling errors, or have a strange sender address. Some emails compel you to share or verify your details and even give you a time limit to do so.
Train and teach your employees to identify such clues to step away from a possible phishing email. If they succeed in doing so, then they are on their way to ensure cybersecurity at work.
4. Validate your email
Email authentication is crucial as it proves that a message your organization received had come from an authentic organization. The process effectively decreases phishing and spoofing attempts, therefore preventing attacks and providing protection to your brand.
The three popular forms of email authentication include; Domainkeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC), and Sender Policy Framework (SPF). Inbound threat protection becomes simpler if every organization adopt these email standards to make legitimate emails easier to identify.
5. Develop your gateway and wall
Automated processes are known to be more secure and are less prone to errors. Use technology to thwart the vast majority of threats from reaching the end-users.
You can do it much more securely than just installing anti-virus software. There are email security solutions which analyze incoming emails for known threats and then filter them accordingly.
The best possible solutions include advanced threat detection features which can detect display name, spoofing emails, and prevents them from reaching user’s inboxes. It ultimately results in enhancing your business platforms such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365.
Phishing attacks are not going away by any means; however, they can be mitigated by developing a strategy and by following preventive measures. Make sure that your organization has a well-defined plan which includes detection, response, training, and prevention.
It is through this kind of awareness and planning that we will establish our defences against phishing attacks and reduce the effectiveness of future campaigns.