Business Tech

Still Falling for Phishing? How to Recognize Malicious Messages

Cybersecurity attacks are on the rise. Year on year, there are more scams to watch out for and more threats for companies to try and detect. Email phishing scams remain the most popular (and successful) ways for hackers to strike. 

So what is a phishing attack? To put it simply, they are a social engineering method of parting you from confidential data that can then be used to steal money, identities, or confidential information that can then be sold or ransomed. 

Despite the fact that many of these phishing attacks are clumsy and easy to spot, there are also a number of increasingly sophisticated ones doing the rounds. In 2020, 58% of companies surveyed had experienced an increase in phishing attacks.

Successful cybersecurity breaches can have catastrophic consequences for businesses, leaving them open to legal, financial, and reputational damages. Even though it is the high profile cases that make the press, small and medium-sized businesses are more likely to be targeted, and don’t have the resources to survive them. 

Here are some tips on how to recognize malicious messages. 

The Sender’s Email Address Is Wrong

Rather than take notice of the sender’s name, check the email address it was sent from. They will often be from public email addresses like Google or Outlook. 

Legitimate companies won’t use a general public email company. Of course, many hackers are aware of this and buy up domains that are similar, or contain a slight misspelling that they bank on you not noticing. 

If you don’t know what the domain should be, then type the name of the company into Google and check. 

There Are Spelling & Grammar Mistakes

Phishing emails are often poorly constructed and filled with spelling and grammar mistakes. It’s an obvious giveaway that the email is fake. 

It Includes an Unexpected Link or Attachment

The goal of a phishing scam is to obtain sensitive information, either by having you provide it directly in response, or encouraging you to click on a link or download something. 

You should never click or download any of these files. They place software on your computer that can be used to find out logins and passwords to important sites. 

There’s a Ticking Clock

Hackers create a sense of urgency in order to try and get you to act quickly, without stopping to consider what you’re doing. 

In the workplace, a phishing email could be pretending to be from a boss, threatening consequences if you don’t do something quickly. Who doesn’t want to keep their boss happy? 

Preventing Phishing Attacks

Educating employees on how to identify and report social engineering hacks is an important way to reduce the risk to your business. However, you also need to try and reduce the number of these emails reaching your employees in the first place. Working alongside an experienced IT services company can help stop these messages in their tracks. Sensitive filters are software that is used to identify and remove these messages before they ever have a chance to threaten your business.