How to Prevent Phishing: Everything You Need to Know

how to prevent phishing

Preventing this needs to be a priority for small businesses. You may not be able to stop phishing completely. It’s one of the biggest security risk factors whether you’re an eCommerce or brick-and-mortar store with an online presence.

But you need to know what you can do. And how to stay ahead of sophisticated attacks. And be aware of the latest ploys like phishing emails. You need to know about these attacks if you’re asking: “What is cybersecurity?”

Here are some phishing statistics you should be aware of. A full 85% of breaches had a human element.

What is Phishing?

This is a cybercrime. Phishing attacks use different tools like suspicious emails, text messages, or even phone conversations. Criminals want your sensitive data, password login credentials, and financial information.

Phishing emails coupled with malicious attachments are common, and they often contain malicious code.

Examples of Phishing Scams

A phishing scam tries to gain access using a hyperlink, over-the-top offer, or even a phony prize. Many phishing attacks use a business email compromise or even a fake invoice.

Seeing is believing. Here’s a list of some of the worst phishing attacks that went after account details and/or personal information.

  • Sony Pictures. As far as spear phishing attacks go, this was one of the worst. This granddaddy of data breaches cost the company over $100 million. Hackers posed as colleagues and sent malware-infected emails to employees. Customer data and financial records were stolen.
  • Facebook and Google. Most phishing attacks don’t carry on for long. But this business email compromise scam lasted for years. A hacker posed as a vendor and sent out fake invoices. Over $100 million was paid.
  • The Crelan Bank. This successful phishing attack cost this bank in Belgium about $75.8 million. This is another example of a business email scam.

Finally, the World Health Organization has even put out a warning about spam emails and phishing. They suggest hackers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to send malicious attachments. These are just a few of the many phishing examples that cause financial and reputation issues.

How to Prevent Phishing Attacks

You don’t just need to react after one happens because there are ways to prevent phishing attacks. Don’t forget that malicious phone calls are one way to try and steal information. Your first line of defense is Caller ID.

Prevent phishing scams with these other suggestions.

1. Ignore Those Pop-Ups

Security threats are hiding in these ads. Hackers will look for sensitive information like credit card details. Look for ad blocker software so you don’t fall victim to a scam. And learn not to click on a link that looks too good to be true.

2. Stay Updated

Update messages can be annoying. But they can save your bank account information from falling into the wrong hands. Patches and updates stay on top of the latest common phishing techniques. And don’t forget to update your browser on a regular basis.

3. Be Careful With Links

Don’t just click on a link. Even messages from people you know could be a phishing attempt. At least hover over it to look at the destination URL. Misspellings and the like usually lead to a malicious website. Keep an eye out for spear-phishing emails.

4. Check Internet Accounts

Changing passwords can help prevent a phishing attack too. Check your statements from your bank and credit card company for any phishing attempts. Be wary of anything that starts out with a ‘dear customer’ generic greeting.

5. Take Advantage of Firewalls.

Prevent scams by being proactive. High-quality firewalls are a buffer. There are software and hardware options you can use in a phishing prevention toolkit.

6. Keep Your Personal Details Personal

Identity theft can start when you share sensitive information online. Malicious emails will try to trick users by sending them to a phishing web page. A secure website begins with “HTTPS.”

7. Use The Right Software.

Antivirus software to be exact. Find one that guards against known loopholes to steal sensitive information. Update the program regularly so you don’t wind up falling victim to phishing emails. Good software should have excellent spam filters.

8. Get A Toolbar

You can’t stop phishing completely. But most browsers can add on an anti-phishing toolbar. The tool alerts you when you stumbled on a phishing webpage.

How to Recognize a Phishing Email or Phishing Sites

Security awareness starts with knowing what to look for. Here’s a list of ways to recognize phishing emails or dangerous websites. Internet browsing or doing business online is safer with these tips.

Watch out for …

  • Spear phishing emails that say they’ve noticed some suspicious login attempts or other activities.
  • A phishing email that asks you to update your information by clicking a link.
  • Bad grammar in the URL can point to a malicious site and/or a scam. Mismatched email domains often contain malicious links.

Avoid phishing scams on websites by looking at the following:

  • Online reviews or any kind of web form. If the website has defrauded people, chances are they’ve complained.
  • Payment details matter. Legitimate websites take credit cards and use credible portals like PayPal.
  • Check the content. A legitimate website pays to have good content. If there are spelling mistakes and broken English used, you should be concerned.

What is Phishing Protection?

This kind of protection is designed to protect your online accounts and stop phishing. Preventing a data breach of any kind is the end goal. A spam filter helps, likewise for adopting two-factor authentication. Email security should include knowing the trends. Like a recent scam with the subject line “Keep Same Password.”

Become active. Join an anti-phishing working group. And of course, there’s good software available. To protect personally identifiable information from dangerous random emails and the like.

How Can Phishing Be Prevented?

Finally, here are some phishing prevention tips. These help with everything from email security to protecting social media accounts. Security awareness training for employees should include simulations. Look for a company that can expose phishing scammers based on current threats. It should have a system to report phishing and suspicious email clients. A training/software company should also allow you to block users from the dark web.

Image: Envato Elements

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.