Are You Worried About Phishing Scams Every Time You Open An Email?

Phishing scams are mass emails that request confidential information or credentials under pretenses, link to malicious websites or include malware as an attachment.

Are You Worried Every Time You Open An Email?

Phishing scams remain an incredibly common and effective tactic in use by cybercriminals all around the world. That’s why you need to stay up to date on how it works, and how its methodology is evolving.

The entire landscape of cybercrime is changing.

It used to be someone sitting in their parent’s basement, trying to find clever ways to pass the time. Unfortunately, this crime has become so successful that the governments of countries are now involved.

A vast majority of ransomware scandals originate in Russia. The government employs hundreds of hackers. They have teams of IT experts who work around the clock to create new and more effective hacking scams.

When hackers are backed by a government like China, they have practically unlimited resources. This makes them even harder to stop.

If they were merely individuals committing crimes for personal gain, your IT company could more easily protect you, and the authorities could track them down and put them in jail.

But today’s cybercriminals are well-organized agencies that are part of a large foreign government, so stopping them is almost impossible.

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions to help you protect yourself against this and other forms of phishing:

  • What Is Phishing?
  • Why Is Phishing Dangerous?
  • What Are Some Of The New Types Of Phishing Scams?
  • How Can I Tell If It’s a Phishing Email?

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a method in which cyber criminals send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources in order to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers.

Phishing scams are mass emails that request confidential information or credentials under pretenses, link to malicious websites or include malware as an attachment.

With only a surprisingly small amount of information, cybercriminals can convincingly pose as business members and superiors in order to persuade employees to give them money, data or crucial information.

The reality is that cybercriminals can keep doing the same old thing because users keep falling for the exact same tactics without ever seeming to learn the cybersecurity measures needed to protect against them.

That’s why the businesses keep making it easy for cybercriminals to get away with.

phishing scams

Why Is Phishing Dangerous?

The average phishing attack costs businesses $1.6 million. The problem with the rising tide of cybercrime incidents (e.g. the rate of phishing attacks increased by 65% in recent years) is that you get desensitized to the whole thing.

Cybercrime attacks continue to happen on a regular basis; new variations on the same old trick that pop up over and over again point to a bigger problem than the actual scams – businesses aren’t learning to protect themselves. That’s why the number of reported phishing scams has gone up by 65% in the past few years.

What Are Some Of The New Types Of Phishing Scams?

  1. “Sextortion”
    Have you ever sent nude pics to someone?Even if you haven’t, they sometimes claim that they’ve got some from your webcam or they’ve buried pornography on your computer that they plan to expose to the authorities if you don’t pay them.If you own a business, then this can be a crime that pays well for thieves. They send the business owner a little sample of the erotic photos, then demand money or else they’ll publish them on the Internet.

    The problem with this crime is that there’s no guarantee you’ll get all copies of the photos back. You may pay the criminals and still not be sure.

  2. Gift Cards
    This scam is highly successful because typically the thieves don’t ask for very much money.Many victims will go ahead and pay even if they suspect that it’s a trick, just because there are only a few hundred dollars at stake. You may get a phone call from someone saying they’re from a creditor or the IRS. They will speak in hostile threatening tones. They’ll claim that if you don’t pay up immediately, terrible things will happen—maybe your car will be repossessed.Next, they instruct you to go to a local store like Walmart and buy gift cards in the amount you owe. Once you buy them, you call the thief back and give them the numbers found on the back of the cards. Once they have these, they can use them online to make purchases.
  3. Wire Fraud Scam
    Hackers are targeting the human resource functions of businesses of all types with phishing. They’re convincing employees to swap out direct deposit banking information to offshore accounts.A nonprofit in Kansas City (KVC Health Systems) said that there were numerous attempts each month involving scammers who were trying to convince their payroll personnel to change information about where to send employee pay. The IRS recently released a warning about an uptick in a wide range of fraud attempts involving payroll information.

How Can I Tell If It’s A Phishing Email?

Share these key tips with your employees to ensure they know how to spot a phishing attempt:

  1. Incorrect Domain
    Before even taking a look at the body of the message, check out the domain in the sender’s address. Maybe they claim to be from your bank, or a big name company – but talk is cheap. It’s much more difficult to spoof an actual domain name, and so it’s more common to see domains that are closer, but not 100% correct. If it seems fishy, it probably is.
  2. Suspicious Links
    Always be sure to hover your mouse over a link in an email before clicking it. That allows you to see where it actually leads. While it may look harmless, the actual URL may show otherwise, so always look, and rarely click.
  3. Spelling and Grammar
    Modern cybersecurity awareness comes down to paying attention to the details. When reading a suspicious email, keep an eye out for any typos or glaring errors. Whereas legitimate messages from your bank or vendors would be properly edited, phishing scams are notorious for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  4. Specificity
    Another point to consider is how vague the email is. Whereas legitimate senders will likely have your information already (such as your first name) and will use it in the salutation, scammers will often employ vaguer terminology, such as “Valued Customer” – this allows them to use the same email for multiple targets in a mass attack.
  5. Urgent and Threatening
    If the subject line makes it sound like an emergency — “Your account has been suspended”, or “You’re being hacked” — that’s another red flag. It’s in the scammer’s interest to make you panic and move quickly, which might lead to you overlooking other indicators that it’s a phishing email.
  6. Attachments
    Phishers will often try to get you to open an attachment, so, if you see an attachment in combination with any of the above indicators, it’s only more proof that the email is likely part of a phishing attempt.

In the End

The key to phishing methodology is that it doesn’t rely on digital security vulnerabilities or cutting-edge hacking technology; phishing scams target the user, who, without the right training, will always be a security risk, regardless of the IT measures set in place.

Making security education a routine for your entire team – management included – is the most effective way to stop phishing scams. Waiting for another major cyberattack to start making the rounds is not the time to start investing in your staff’s cybersecurity awareness.

Waiting for another major cyberattack to start making the rounds is not the time to start looking at providing cybersecurity training for your staff- at that point, it’ll be too late. Making cybersecurity education a routine for your entire team – management included – is the most effective way to ensure your team can spot and stop a phishing attempt.

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