3. Threatening messages
Another popular way cyber criminals attempt to get you to give away your personal information or download malicious attachments is by directly threatening you.
A common sextortion scam involves a hacker stating that they have recorded you watching pornographic material online and will send it to your contacts if a payment is not made directly to them.
In one variation of this scam, the hackers attached a file which they proclaimed was proof of the video. Once this file is downloaded, it imparts ransomware on to your computer, locking all of your data – despite them never having any incriminating videos at all.
4. Strange attachments
If you ever receive an email from someone that you don’t know, don’t open any attachments contained within it. This is made more obvious if the file attached has an unusual name.
This is the same if the message contains a URL. Make sure to hover your mouse over the URL and make sure that it is in fact leading to the correct page. It’s also important to make sure that the URL has a SSL certificate and begins with HTTPS.
How to protect against phishing scams
Even though the messages sent by the cybercriminals will often give away their true intentions, some may be so well crafted that simply looking out for the above tell-tale signs may not be enough.
Luckily, there’s several options that you have that can help you bolster your chances of staying protected from phishing scams.
1. Email filters
Using an email filter alone won’t guarantee that you don’t receive any malicious emails, but it certainly helps. Some email providers have more effective spam and junk mail filters, so it’s worth researching before choosing which email service you want to use.
If you are particularly concerned about the dangers of phishing emails, you can disable all hyperlinks on your email settings. Though this will prevent the messages from incorporating any dangerous links, it also means that you won’t be able to receive links from legitimate senders.
2. Antivirus software
Having up-to-date antivirus software isn’t just important to protect your business from phishing attacks, they’ll help protect from all sorts of dangerous threats. Some antivirus software even comes equipped with anti-phishing capabilities which will scan the attachments of emails to check whether they are dangerous or not.
Make sure that you regularly scan your device too, as many phishing scams can go unnoticed without regularly checking your device.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an important piece of software for maintaining security while online, particularly if you use public WiFi connections to access sensitive information.
Never log in to your bank account or access sensitive company information while on an unsecured network. Doing so not only puts you at risk from phishing attacks but also man-in-the-middle attacks and other malicious practices.
4. Educate your employees
Educating your employees is arguably the most important step in the whole process. Although you may recognize the signs of a fraudulent email, if your colleagues don’t then your network is at risk.
A good way of ensuring that your entire workforce understands the risks and knows how to identify a phishing scam is by running simulated phishing tests. Doing so allows you to be confident that everyone in your office recognizes the risks.
Ultimately, human error is the biggest risk to your company’s data integrity and without adequate training, your company is likely to remain one of the thousands that falls victim to phishing scams each year.