Phishing – what it is and how to avoid it

Monday, 10th August 2020

Unfortunately, cyber-attacks are extremely common place, with many businesses experiencing potential threats to their online infrastructure and networks. However, many of these attempts are relatively easy to spot and, with a strong firewall and thorough disaster recovery plan in place, they can easily be stopped before they do any actual, lasting damage.

Phishing emails, on the other hand, are sometimes harder to identity as fraudulent activity. Therefore, in order to help you and your teams to recognise and avoid them in the future, our tech experts are providing some useful information and taking a look at how best to make sure phishing emails don’t pose a threat to your organisation.

What are phishing emails?

Phishing is a form of cyber-attack that disguises itself as a standard email from an actual, legitimate business. These emails almost always look completely normal and can resemble any number of things, including payment requests, bank requests, messages from colleagues or customers, and company updates. Often featuring a download link or an attachment, phishing emails will try to gain the recipient’s trust, in order to get them to read the message and perform a desired action.

Dating back to the 1990s, phishing emails are still extremely widespread and have proven to be more effective as technology has developed over the years, with increasingly sophisticated techniques used to try and trick users into opening them. The end goal is always the same – to obtain personal information, including passwords and account numbers. Thousands of phishing attacks are launched each day, with many unfortunately being successful.

How do I recognise phishing emails?

Hackers will frequently update their phishing email tactics, but there are usually a few signs to spot, that will help you to recognise one of these messages, before it’s too late.

The overall appearance of a phishing email will look like it’s from a legitimate business and will almost always ask something of you. The common reasons for their contact will likely include:

  • Suspicious activity or multiple log-in attempts on the account in question.
  • A request for/to confirm some personal information.
  • A problem with the account or payment details.
  • An incorrect invoice.
  • A request for a payment, via a link in the email.
  • Information regarding special discount and offers, in exchange for personal details.
  • Eligibility for a Government rebate.

Most likely, phishing emails will include the same or similar format to messages from the companies they’re claiming to be, even down to the logo! However, pay close attention to the language used in the email, as the tone and style may seem a little ‘off’. For example, if an email from a supposed, legitimate business starts with ‘Hi there’, ‘Hi Madam/Sir’, or an alternative introduction that doesn’t include the recipient’s name, this is most definitely a red flag and the email should be treated with caution.

How do I protect myself from phishing emails?

Thankfully, your email spam filter will be able to block a large amount of the phishing emails that try to get through. However, hackers are constantly creating new methods to try to outsmart and work around the protective measures in place, so it’s always recommended that businesses have robust security measures to withstand any potential phishing emails that may slip through the cracks. Our tech experts have provided their top 3 tips to ensure maximum protection against phishing emails:

  • Use reliable security software to protect your computer and allow it to update automatically, to deal with any new security threats.
  • Increase the safety of individual accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Adding that extra layer of security will make it that much harder for anyone, other than yourself, to get into your accounts.
  • Protect your data by backing it up. Either on an external hard drive, or via cloud and hosted storage options, backing up your valuable data is a must to make sure that, should something happen, you have everything securely saved elsewhere and ready to go, should you need it.

Want to find out how our telephony solutions can help you increase your productivity and reduce your costs, or just some friendly, impartial advice on the best tools to make comms a breeze? Contact us today via our live chat, 0333 3603 723, or email enquiries.uk@enreach.com.

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