Technology has changed the entire business landscape over the last two decades. With these advances come additional risks. Specifically, cybercrime continues to be a significant concern for all types of businesses. What the latest trends show is that attacks now frequently target smaller companies who may not have adequate security measures in place, instead of going after large enterprises. One of these types of attacks is phishing. Alarmingly, many companies are still not clear on how to prevent phishing attacks from succeeding.

Businesses who still wonder “how does phishing work” should familiarize themselves with the latest techniques cybercriminals are using. Failing to do so could put their companies at risk. The modern methods used in a phishing attack is more sophisticated and can cause massive damage to a business’s operations.

What is Phishing and How Does Phishing Work

Phishing is a technique that con artists and scammers use to get personal information from an unsuspecting victim or gain access to a company’s networks. Scammers will send an email that appears to come from a valid company. Once the user clicks on a link, it will direct them to a fake website, and if they enter their personal information, it’s immediately available for the hackers to exploit.

The Different Types of Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks have evolved over the last few years. In the past, hackers primarily wanted to harvest personal information that they could sell for profit or install malware on a computer to generate revenue from online advertising. This is no longer the case, as most phishing emails now contain ransomware. Once the user opens the email and clicks on a link, the computer will download a file that allows the hackers to take over the computer.

From there, they can spread the attack beyond that workstation and infect the entire company’s network. Using encryption, they can hold the office’s IT infrastructure hostage until the company pays a ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency. This is currently how the majority of phishing attacks work. At the end of March 2019, 93% of phishing emails contained some form of ransomware.

How Phishing has Evolved in 2020

It’s also important to note that the disguises are getting better. Attackers now use soft targeting, where they create a message for a specific individual in the company. Opposed to bulk or spear phishing, whatever information about the company is available online will be used to maximum effect. Using soft targeting makes it more likely to entice the person to click on the link.

Another way the attacks have changed is by targeting different types of devices. With more companies allowing employees to use their own devices on the company’s network, hackers now also target phones and tablets. Malware hidden in mobile apps can easily traverse from a phone to a network without anyone noticing. Similarly, bogus ads on social media can also download malware and enable hackers to launch a successful attack.

How to Prevent Phishing from Succeeding

The first way to prevent a phishing attack from succeeding is having advanced network security. Solutions like firewalls and endpoint scanning can block users from accessing known sites that contain malware. Similarly, if any attachments originate from a suspicious source, the firewall will prevent the email from reaching the intended recipient.

Companies should also ensure their employees understand the risks and educate them on how to spot phishing emails. The Federal Trade Commission provides advice on how to spot a phishing email. Any email that requests the user to react quickly and provide personal details is highly suspect.

Some of the most common phishing attempts include:

  • A claim that there’s been suspicious activity on an account and threatening to suspend the account if the user doesn’t act immediately.
  • An email attachment like an invoice or proof of payment that wasn’t expected.
  • Emails that offer free goods or rewards that require the user to click on a link.
  • Any email that requests a user to update their personal information by clicking on a link.

For companies that rely heavily on their digital infrastructure, it may also be useful to get cybersecurity insurance. There are both third-party and first-party policies available, which will help the company overcome the financial damage to the organization if an attack succeeds.

Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises for Enhanced Network Security

For comprehensive network security solutions, Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises can assist organizations in preventing a phishing attack from succeeding. Donnellon McCarthy Enterprise provides end-to-end Managed Network Services that includes endpoint scanning, advanced firewalls, and complete monitoring of the company’s digital infrastructure.

Since 1957, Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises has worked with companies to develop innovative solutions that drive organizational efficiencies. Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises is a leading provider of office productivity solutions and can help organizations of every size can gain peace of mind about their network security.

To get a detailed assessment of your current network security or to find out more about how to prevent phishing attacks, speak to Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises today.