When it comes to cybersecurity and online threats, most businesses are concerned with things like hacking. You’re worried about an online entity hacking your website and stealing all sorts of vital data and information. Granted, this is a concern that you need to be aware of, but it isn’t the biggest threat to businesses in 2022.
So, what is?
According to recent data, phishing attacks are responsible for over 80% of reported security incidents.
For business owners, this is the biggest cyber threat right now – and it is something you need to prepare to face.
What is phishing?
Phishing is one of the oldest cyberattacks in the world. Effectively, it works around the premise of trying to access sensitive information. Criminals will lure you into providing them with access to key details or data.
This is typically done in one of two ways:
- Phishing via emails
- Phishing via links
Malicious emails are the most common form of phishing these days. In a business, employees can receive hundreds of emails across any given week. Some of these are legitimate, while others could be phishing scams. With a phishing email, the aim is to get someone to open an email, which leads to an attachment being downloaded. Typically, malware is installed on the computer, which is a type of virus that can access all kinds of information.
Alternatively, a link is posted in the email, asking the user to click it. Phishing emails have advanced over the years to resemble legitimate companies. Usually, you receive an email warning you of a threat. This can be from your ‘bank’ or from another company you might work with. It scares people into clicking the link to see what’s happening.
Phishing via links can also be done on websites around the web. Some phishing criminals may use social media to share malicious links, encouraging people to click them. The same thing happens when they’re clicked; malware gets installed, gaining access to loads of information.
Why is phishing a problem for businesses?
This is a major problem for businesses because it gives criminals access to a lot of sensitive data. They use the malware to see everything on a device, meaning they could have access to customer records, financial details, and so on.
As such, a business can lose a lot of money via a phishing attack. It can also lose its reputation if it is responsible for a data breach that causes lots of clients to have their personal information exposed. Will people trust a business that fell victim to a phishing attack? Maybe, but not as much as they once did.
To make matters worse, phishing is a problem for businesses because any employee can be responsible for it. In large organizations, all it takes is one employee to click a link or open a dodgy email, and the whole system is compromised. This is why these attacks are so common; it’s very hard to stop them from happening in large companies with dozens of employees.
How do you stop phishing attacks in your business?
The first line of defense is your employees. You need to ensure that everyone is aware of what phishing attacks are, and how to identify them. Put them through phishing training so they gain all of this knowledge and understand what to look for. This will empower them to make better decisions when they see things online. It should mean they can spot a phishing email or a phishing link from a mile away. In turn, they avoid clicking it, meaning the phishing attack can’t take place.
Another way to defend yourself is with email filtering. Some email clients – like Gmail – are very good at filtering out phishing emails into spam folders. Other clients – like Outlook – are pretty terrible. Ensure you choose a good email provider that has software in place to detect potential threats and keep them away from inboxes. These filters might not catch every dangerous email, but they do a good job of reducing the number you see.
Lastly, you need to have good virus protection software installed across every device. This is useful for preventing malware from being downloaded onto devices. The best anti-virus software can detect malware and stop you from downloading it. So, even if a phishing email is opened – or a link is clicked – nothing gets downloaded onto the device, stopping the threat in its tracks.
Ultimately, there are two key points to take from this article. Firstly, phishing attacks are widespread and can affect your business at any given time. However, it is very easy to defend yourself against them. They might be the biggest cyber threat out there right now, but they are also one of the most avoidable.