Data privacy and security are real concerns in modern times. Many businesses and individuals face data breaches and hacks and risk losing private information. However, if you know the basics of cybersecurity and how to spot phishing attempts, that information can remain safe.
It can be easy to fall prey to an email when they mention private details and use social engineering. Think of it like a sales call from a cable TV company. The salesman knows your due Cox cable bill pay amount and is willing to offer something too good to be true instead. You might listen to them because they know something personal about you and the agent sounds legit.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing (pronounced fishing) can be an email with a suspicious link or downloadable file. The 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report claimed that 35% of all data breach scams involved stealing people’s sensitive data such as credit card details, social security numbers, or login credentials.
Common users are not the only ones who can become prey to a phishing scam. Even tech giants like Facebook and Google were also scammed using emails. Evaldas Rimasauskas stole almost $50 million from the two tech companies between the years 2013 and 2015. He impersonated Quanta Computer, a vendor in business with both Facebook and Google. The multi-million-dollar invoices were sent in two years and it took a while before people realized what was happening. The two companies took legal action but could only retrieve less than half of the lost money.
Different Types of Phishing Scams Against Businesses
There can be many different ways of phishing and hackers are learning new tricks every day. Here are some of the most common types that you should look out for:
#1: Brand Impersonation
The most common example of a phishing attack is when hackers try to impersonate a legit company or brand. It could be as famous as Amazon or Facebook. The email will look like it came from the correct source but the domain name can be a little different. Such scams are easy to fall prey to and many people don’t look at the email sender’s name or credentials carefully.
#2: Spear Phishing
In this type of attack, the hackers impersonate a brand but the email will look like it is specifically curated for you. They might have a few personal details about you like your name, address, or personal email ID.
#3: Email Account Hack
The phishing email could also come from the email ID of someone you personally know. The hackers could have taken over their account to ask for money, personal information, or other key details. People tend to immediately trust someone they personally know and don’t tend to investigate an odd request. The suspicious email could be from a friend, family member, or colleague.
How to Spot Phishing Emails
Phishing is such a popular form of cybercrime because it is effective. It is a real threat for individuals and businesses alike and effective training is necessary to curb any potential data losses. So, spotting a phishing scam can be vital for better cybersecurity. Here are a few things that can help you recognize a threat when you see one:
#1: Doom and Gloom Urgency
You should be wary of emails that have an urgent call to action. They can claim that if you don’t perform a certain action or click on the given link then there is a risk. The threat can sound very real and serious but the email is probably a scam. Similarly, the urgency could also be about prize money that will expire if you don’t take immediate action.
#2: First-Time Sender
A new sender is not necessarily trying to scam you, but you should still be careful. If you don’t know the sender or they are outside of your organization, don’t click on any links or download any attachments. Make sure that you talk to IT if you can’t figure out the authenticity of the email yourself.
#3: Unbelievably Good Offers
Many phishing scams can lure you in with offers that are too good to be true. They may be offering you a lot of money, free software, or a huge discount on a service. Most of the time, when you think it is a scam, you should trust your gut. Any unexpected promotional email with big promises should be seen with suspicion.
#4: Generic Greetings
Most phishing scams are sent to a large audience to increase the chances of a successful bait. If you received an email with suspicious content and a generic greeting, it is likely a scam. Hackers usually don’t know who you are and any legit organization that works with you should know your name. A greeting such as “Sir/Madam” or “Hello Dear” is suspicious.
#5: Wrong Domain Names and Typos
One of the biggest telltale signs of any phishing scam is a mismatched domain name. For instance, the hacker might be impersonating amazon.com but the email domain name could amazons.com. Moreover, you should also scan the email for typos.
If you ever realize that you received a phishing account there are a couple of things that you need to do. Firstly, refrain from clicking on any links or downloading any files. Then, report the email to your company’s IT department and delete it immediately.