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In today’s digital age of computers and the internet, emails are the most convenient means of communication. Everyone with basic computer skills has sent or received emails at some point in their life. They both have advantages and disadvantages.

The major downside of emails is that hackers use them to send messages containing harmful material in order to steal private data and cause irreversible harm. To combat this danger from cybercriminals, commercial organizations and individual users can employ many kinds of email security solutions.

The methods and tools used to safeguard email accounts as well as conversations fall under the category of email security. Phishing attempts frequently target email because it is the biggest attack surface for a business and because it may be used to propagate malware.

 

What is Phishing? 

Phishing is a form of social engineering assault that is frequently employed to obtain user information, such as login passwords and credit card details. It happens when an attacker deceives a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message by disguising themselves as a reliable source.

The receiver is subsequently duped into clicking a malicious link, which can result in the installation of malware, the freezing of the machine as part of a ransomware assault, or the disclosure of sensitive information.

Phishing mails that are successful are challenging to discern from legitimate messages. They frequently include business logos and other gathered identifying information to give the impression that they are from a well-known organization.

There are, however, a number of indicators that a communication is a phishing effort:

  • Too Good To Be True: In order to draw people’s attention right away, tempting offers and eye-catching or attention-grabbing remarks are used. For instance, many will tell you that you’ve won the lottery, an iPhone, or some other expensive reward. Simply don’t click on any shady emails. Keep in mind that anything that appears too wonderful to be true certainly is!
  • Sense of Urgency: Cybercriminals frequently urge you to act quickly since the great discounts are only available for a short period of time. Some of them even state that you only have a little time to answer. It’s better to simply disregard these emails when you encounter them. They may occasionally inform you that unless you quickly update your personal information, your account will be suspended. The majority of trustworthy businesses give customers enough notice before closing an account and never request that customers update personal information online. If in doubt, go directly to the source instead of clicking a link in an email.
  • Hyperlinks:  A link might not be what it first seems to be. When you mouse over a link, the exact URL to which it will take you is displayed. Look closely; it may be something altogether different or a well-known website with a mistake, like www.bankofjarnaica.com, where the’m’ is actually a ‘r’ and a ‘n’.
  • Attachments: Avoid opening any attachments in emails that you weren’t anticipating or that don’t make sense. They frequently have payloads like malware or other ransomware. A.txt file is the only type of file that is always safe to click on.
  • Unusual Sender: If something appears out of the norm, unexpected, out of character, or simply suspect in general, don’t click on it!

 

If you receive a phishing email:

  • In dubious emails, never open any links or attachments. Go to your web browser and start a new tab if you receive a questionable communication from a company and are concerned it could be genuine. After that, access the organization’s website by using one of your own saved favorites or a web search. Alternatively, you can call the company by dialing the number on the back of your membership card, on a bill or statement, or on the organization’s official website.
  • If the suspicious communication looks to be from someone you know, get in touch with them by phone or text message to confirm it.
  • Report the message.
  • Delete it.

 

Though hackers are constantly coming up with new techniques, there are some things that  you can do to protect yourself and your organization:

  • The best defense against phishing attempts is two-factor authentication (2FA), which provides an additional layer of verification when logging into sensitive apps. Users must own both something they know—like a password and user name—and something they have—like a smartphone—for 2FA to work. Since compromised credentials alone are inadequate to obtain admission, 2FA prohibits the use of compromised credentials even when workers are compromised.
  • Organizations should implement strong password management procedures in addition to 2FA. Employees should, for instance, be prohibited from using the same password across different apps and should be obliged to change their passwords often.
  • By promoting security behaviors like avoiding clicking on external email links, educational efforts can also aid in reducing the threat of phishing attempts.

 

If you’re suspicious that you may have inadvertently fallen for a phishing attack there are a few things you should do:

  • Connecting through a wired connection? Immediately disconnect the cord from your computer. Open your network settings if you are using a wireless connection, then turn it off. It’s best to stop using the internet as soon as possible. The cyber attacker will have less time to remotely access your device or your personal information if there is no internet connection. Additionally, a quick disconnect will stop malware from propagating to any other devices connected to the same network.
  • Change the passwords for all of your accounts, including those that have been penetrated and those that use passwords that are identical to or similar to those that have been taken by the hacker.
  • Confirm that you have multi-factor authentication (also known as two-step verification) turned on for every account you can. 
  • Make sure you have the latest updates to your anti-virus software installed if the attack happened on your computer. Run a thorough environment scan after that. Contact your IT department if you used a computer provided by your employer and were a victim of phishing. They can do scans for you and check the wider network for any effects. Be ready to respond to simple inquiries about whether you submitted information onto a web portal associated with phishing and whether any extremely sensitive or classified information may have leaked.
  • Inform your local police authorities if you have experienced financial loss or have been a victim of identity theft. Cancel your card if you provided your credit card details on the phishing page.

 

Final Word

Phishing efforts are now rather prevalent. It makes sense for cybercriminals to step up their game as a result of the increased use of computers in daily activities. As a result, one should implement proactive measures for email security.

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