Among the most common security challenges that internet users and business entities have to face are phishing attacks. The Phishing scams are the biggest threat to data security. Hackers and cyber criminals can exploit any form of communication including instant messages, phone calls, emails, social accounts to trick the users into revealing sensitive information. The most at risk of phishing attacks are related to businesses.
Phishing attacks are planned in such a way that a non-technical user won’t be able to detect it. Therefore, usually, the employees of the companies are targeted who are unaware of the scam and fall in it.
In May, a phishing scam was reported by Gmail users. The attack was aimed to gain control of the user’s email histories and extended itself to all contacts of the user.
The phishing attack involved a worm attached to a “Google Docs” file in an email sent to the users under the name of a trusted contact. The link in the email when clicked, directed the users to a real Google Security page. Here the users were asked to grant permission for a false app named as GDocs that overtook the user’s email account. The worse thing about this phishing attack was that the worm spread itself to all the contacts of the affected user resulting in multiplied growth if a single user fell for it.
Phishing attacks are increasing due to its cheap cost and high rate of success. Another incident occurred when John Podesta, former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign received a phishing email that was most likely send by Moscow-backed intruders. During the presidential election last year, hackers infiltrated many states and local election data bases. Phishing attacks were also noticed when the business systems of nuclear power plants were targeted.
The protection against phishing attacks greatly relies on your knowledge and awareness. If the user gets tricked and enters his login details that are demanded on the web page then a successful phishing attack takes place. There is no doubt that average users of the internet won’t be able to guess the phishing scam, yet the companies are also failing to stop it. Employees of the companies fall in scam easily due to lack of training.
How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks
The internet users and business persons should employ the following preventions in order to protect against phishing attacks.
Educate your employees
The tactics of the phishers are advancing so it becomes important to educate the employees of the company. The security awareness of the employees should be raised as part of their orientation. They should be told not to open the email attachments that appear from an unknown sender. Inform them that a legitimate website will never ask for their password in an email.
Once the employees are informed of what not to do, it’s time to test them. Plan a phishing attack and perform it on your own staff to know how they handle it. This will clear you whether your employees are now fully trained against a phishing attack or not. You should also test your management to see whether they are implementing the policies adequately.
Keep systems updated
Your browser and operating system should be up to date with the latest security patches available. If your browser and the operating system are not updated with the latest updates then there is a vulnerability in your system that the cyber criminal can exploit. Phishing attacks are usually directed to fool the users by exploiting the vulnerability resulting in the installation of malicious code. Keeping systems up to date will fix any vulnerability in the system before any malware can exploit your system.
Installing an antivirus or a firewall protection is always a good idea. They can fulfill the needed security against the phishing attacks. Technological workarounds and loopholes can be prevented by using anti-virus software.
For preventing phishing attacks, one of the most effective methods is Two-factor authentication. It can be called an extra verification step for logging in to the applications that are private. 2FA requires two things from the users that are password and a code. 2FA has greatly reduced the hacking of credentials as the hackers have one thing and deficient of the other which makes their entry into the sensitive applications negligible.
Never Click on Links in an Email
If you receive an email that demands you to click a link and submit personal information, never do that. Usually, such emails impersonate your bank’s website so that they appear legitimate and ask you to verify your details. Never get tricked by such scam, just simply check whether the email is from the bank or not by asking your bank if they have really sent it to you. Keep in mind that banks will never ask to enter your credentials in an email.
SSL Certificate to Secure all Traffic
A website’s traffic is secure if it has SSL certificate, it will show HTTPS in the URL Bar which clears that the website is safe from hacking and scams. These websites are legitimate and demand you to enter confidential information which is completely secured with encryption.
Phishing attempts are growing as new tools are making it easier. Hackers are able to develop such genuine looking fake websites to trick the users and steal their data. Phishing is usually carried out through emails, thus it is highly suggested not to trust any email that has been sent to you by an unknown sender. You are your biggest security wall, stay vigilant, aware, analyze and then make a decision.