Identifying and Preventing Email Phishing

Email phishing is a type of cyber attack that tricks users into divulging their login credentials, bank details, and other critical personal data. It mainly aims to extort money from your business through various means, including ransomware, blackmail, fake invoices, and fake approval for money transfer. A single attack could typically cost a mid-size company $1.6 million.

To prevent your business from falling prey to phishing emails, you need to know how to spot such attempts. In his book, Small Business – A Hacker’s Playground: Cyber Security, Elevated Technologies founder Jason Rorie gives us valuable insights on what to look out for and how to stop phishing emails from damaging your business.

How to Spot a Phishing Email

Offers That Are Too Good to Be True

One of the indications of a phishing email is an eye-catching offer that will prompt you to enter your personal details to claim a prize. Some messages will try to lure you in with the promise of a new phone or other irresistible items. Once you type in your data, the attackers will use your information against you.

Time-Sensitive Offer

Another sign of a phishing email is an offer that you have to act on right away or within just a few minutes. There are even some messages that prompt you to update your login details to prevent your account from being disabled. The best course of action is to ignore such emails and avoid clicking on any links. You can also verify it by going directly to the primary source of the message.

Suspicious Hyperlinks

You can tell if there is a phishing link in an email by hovering your mouse over the hyperlinked text and inspecting the actual URL attached to it. Some links will take you to a completely different site than what should be linked. Others have subtle spelling mistakes that could trick you into thinking that it’s the official website of a real company. 

Suspicious Attachments

One of the signs of a phishing email is a suspicious file attached to an email. Do not open such files as they could contain ransomware or viruses. Be wary of random attachments that you are not expecting or are not relevant to the message.

How to Stop Phishing Emails

Stopping phishing emails involves effort from both the users and the company. On the individual level, users need to know what a potential cyber attack looks like. Businesses, on the other hand, can take a few steps to prevent phishing attempts.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Turning on the 2FA for account logins is considered the most effective move against phishing attacks. This adds an extra layer of verification for every login attempt, thereby preventing employees from using credentials that have been compromised. Your 2FA could be a one-time password sent to your mobile phone, a login alert via email, or an answer to a security question that only you know. It’s simple, but it works.

Strict Password Rules

Companies need to implement strict policies on passwords. Some of these rules may include changing your password every few months and not using the same password used in other accounts or applications. Another tip is to avoid selecting the option to save your password each time you log in to an account. 

Increase Awareness Among Users

The most effective course of action to stopping phishing emails is to provide your employees with proper phishing email training and testing. Without training, it is difficult for employees to tell the difference between a legitimate email and a phishing email. The unfortunate truth is that over ninety percent of cyberattacks start with phishing emails.

The Bottom Line

The number of phishing attacks on businesses increases each year, and smaller companies have become the primary target. With this in mind, prioritizing cyber security for your Greater Houston business in a digital world has never been so critical. Because human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches, you must approach the problem with a two-prong solution: testing and training. Elevated Technologies provides both of these services to equip your business best. Contact us for a free quote or more information.

For more information on protecting your business from Cyber threats, check out our owner Jason Rorie’s book Small Business – A Hacker’s Playground: Cyber Security.

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