Everything you need to know about phishing attacks

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Companies of all sizes are being targeted by cyberattackers. And why shouldn’t they be? There are significant profits to be made from stealing organizational data. In fact, cybercrime damage costs are projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021.

Cybercriminals have plenty of tools to choose from, but they still rely on one of the most simple, popular, and effective methods ever – phishing attacks.

What are they? How do you protect against them? How can you prevent them? 

We’ll address that below.

The basics of phishing attacks

Phishing is so effective because of its simplicity. The common feature of a phishing attack is a fraudulent email that appears like it is from someone else — a manager, co-worker, or vendor — in order to get the recipient to click on a link within the email.

For example, phishing pros may create realistic messages that appear to be from financial institutions, retailers, or web service providers requesting login details or banking information. 

These messages often prompt users to click on a link, visit a fake/malicious website, download an attachment, or even to respond with information.

Phishing emails can be simple. By using a lookalike email address, attackers can trick the reader into thinking the message or request is legitimate. 

However, it can get more complex. Depending on the skill of the cyberattacker, it’s possible to forge the header of the email to make it appear as though it’s a legitimate email address.

That’s a practice known as spoofing.

Who do phishing attacks target? 

Phishing attacks can vary in sophistication and target spread. A wide, shotgun approach to phishing is likely far less convincing than a targeted attack (known as spear phishing).

Senior executives are common targets for phishing attempts, in part because their contact information is typically easy to find. In a survey by Cloudmark, 27% of respondents stated their CEOs received phishing emails. A common scheme is to send false notifications of legal action or complaints filed with professional and licensing agencies.

How common are phishing attacks? 

According to research from Avanan, a cloud security platform, more than half of phishing attack emails contain links to malware. Malware attacks, by far, represent the greatest number of attacks. This is followed by credential harvesting, which represents 41% of phishing attacks.

The average cost of a single successful attack averages $1.6 million for mid-sized companies, and many are simply unable to recover.

How can you stop phishing attacks? 

To prevent phishing attacks from running rampant throughout your organization, you’ll need to create a thorough security strategy that covers all the bases. 

Mid-market and enterprise businesses should start by seeking professional cybersecurity services. With these services, you can actively manage your security tools while monitoring everything that runs through your network.

To build a baseline protection plan, you’ll need:

  • Email and web security filters: To drastically lower the chances of spoofed emails coming through into your inbox.
  • 24/7 network monitoring: To quickly respond to virus intrusions and offer remediation that minimizes the risk of a data breach.
  • End-user security training: To help train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks.

For phishing protection, talk to Xpert Technologies

Protecting your organization requires a sound strategy and ample resources. But you may not have either of those at your disposal.

What’s your best option?

Partner with Xpert Technologies as your cybersecurity expert. We’ll get to know your organization’s exact security pain points and help protect your business from phishing attacks and other risks.