Phishing scams can cause irreparable damage to your business. Due to a high volume of emails and project management tool messages exchanged every day, it is incredibly easy to fall prey to a phishing scam. Sometimes it only takes one phishing scam to cost you lots of time and money to repair the damage. A single successful attack typically always results in monetary damage of some kind. In fact, the FBI estimates that over the last three years, CEO email scams have cost companies more than $2.3 billion. The preferable option is that there are no phishing scams and no damage to repair. But how do you do this?
The truth is, you can’t. There is no 100% guaranteed way to avoid phishing scams and cyber attacks. Although our technology is getting smarter and more secure, con artists and hackers evolve too. There are, fortunately, a number of ways to protect yourself and be prepared. One of the best ways to avoid phishing scams from wreaking havoc at your organization is to actually phish yourself.
Confused? Let us explain.
Phishing Tests Actually Exist
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to test your readiness against phishing is to see it in action. A phishing test doesn’t do any damage to your data. Instead, it helps you learn what security knowledge your staff has and whether internal or external risks are worse for you. In fact, at least 51% of internal threats and eventual hacks are accidental. Phishing scams are unfortunately very common, but they do follow patterns and can be detected with the right education. This is why every company should phish itself.
Be aware: Regularly scheduled self-imposed phishing tests do not provide the one-stop solution to prevent all attacks, but they can provide you with valuable insights. These false attacks can help employees understand how to recognize and avoid a phishing attempt in a controlled environment. Ultimately, it will help determine what areas of cyber security you need to improve on with additional resources. It’s the real-life experience without the risk! These tests give employers the opportunity to educate employees hands-on without risking valuable data.
How to Recognize an Email Phishing Scam
Some of your employees might already be on the lookout for these signs, but sometimes even the most obvious flags can escape the eye. For better preparation before and after a simulated phishing test, here are some indicators of an email phishing scam.
Take an extra good look at any message marked “Urgent!” or that carries a note of potential account closure without immediate action. Scare tactics are largely effective in many scenarios, and phishing is one of them. Scammers will take advantage of creating anxiety and concern over protecting your data, and actually take that data when you try to protect your data because of their message.
If you spend your whole day looking at a computer with messages and documents spinning by, it can be easy to miss a subtle spelling mistake. This subtle mistake can be a fatal mistake if not caught. If you receive a message that seems peculiar or is from an unknown contact, check their spelling. Often a zero will be used for the letter “O,’ or a one for the letter “I.” These are easy indicators of fraud but are sometimes just as easily missed, so be on alert.
A link that appears to take you to a legitimate site might be just the opposite. If you hover your cursor over a hyperlink, it can reveal the true destination of a click under a hidden domain name. Seeing a recognizable business name in a URL doesn’t automatically mean that it is a safe link.
If you don’t remember growing up with the phrase “don’t talk to strangers,” it’s time you learned. It’s not unusual to receive a message from a new contact, but not all new contacts will be friendly ones. A red flag to catch this scam attempt is if the message from the unknown sender is directing you to provide information or send you to another site. Always check the “From” address. If it’s from a name you don’t know, you might want to check it twice.
Hiding in Plain Sight
Sometimes phishing will come in the form of an everyday message, like a password change request. This is an area for careful scrutiny and common sense. These types of requests are very common in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re legitimate. If something appears in your inbox somewhat randomly or contradicts a conversation you previously had about a subject, talk to someone first. One click is all it takes.
What to Remember about Phishing Tests
If you decide to implement regular phishing tests at your organization (and we strongly recommend you do!), remember these two things.
Reporting is Critical
These tests are useless unless you actively learn from them. That means monitoring and reviewing the data reports closely. L at link click rates, the number of employees who leak sensitive data, and how many employees report the suspicious activity.
Practice Makes Perfect
To err is human, and not everyone will flawlessly pass this phishing test. Furthermore, it might take a couple of tries to get everyone on the same page. The point of these tests is to educate and prepare employees for attacks. Continue testing and watch your reporting data yield better results over time. Lessons are learned over repetition and time.
The EMPIST Effect
As a company itself, EMPIST values the safety of our sensitive data as well as our clients’ data. One of our top priorities is not only the safety of your data but also ensure that you know what measures you can implement to protect it. Our managed services and cloud services, as well as our extensive knowledge, can keep you assured that private information stays private. We are committed to the security of your business.