In March of 2020 alone, there were over 60,000 phishing websites reported. That number remains in the thousands each month, and may even be going up now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more people relying on technology than ever before.
Phishing attacks are one of the biggest problems small businesses and major corporations alike face on a regular basis. Even the biggest businesses in the world aren’t immune to data breaches. Companies like Adobe, eBay, and LinkedIn have all fallen victim to such hacks.
If you have a separate server or platform for your corporate emails, it’s important that your business does everything possible to protect your brand, your employees, and your valuable data. But, how can you go about doing that in a safe and effective way?
What Are Phishing Attacks?
Phishing might sound like a silly, harmless name, but it’s a very serious problem all over the world. Much like traditional ‘fishing’, it is a way for hackers to get someone “on the hook” by disguising themselves as something tempting or positive.
Phishing attacks occur when a phishing site disguises itself as a trustworthy entity. Most often, they do this through email platforms by asking you to click a link, call a number, or fill out a short survey. Unfortunately, that is all it takes in order for them to “hack” into your system and steal sensitive, private data. That includes things like:
- Financial information
- Personal information
- Identity information
- Usernames and passwords
Unfortunately, all it takes is one phishing attack for your business’ data to be compromised. It can often lead to major financial issues, and it is a huge security and privacy risk.
How Do I Protect My Company From Phishing Attacks?
Thankfully, there are plenty of precautions you can put in place as a leader in order to protect your company and your employees from phishing scams. The most important thing, however, is to educate everyone on your team.
Phishing attacks most often occur because someone “took the bait”. So, there are a few rules that you should put in place throughout your business when it comes to making sure everyone stays safe, including:
- Understanding red flags in emails, such as typos or mistakes, and strange-looking addresses.
- Never clicking a link from a source that you don’t recognize.
- Not giving out personal information.
- Using different passwords for multiple accounts and encouraging employees to change their passwords frequently.
- Enabling two-factor authentication in your email platform.
Simply put, if something seems strange in an email, there’s a good chance it might be. Making sure your entire staff is as educated as possible will greatly reduce your risk of a phishing attack.
How Do I Stop a Phishing Attack?
If a phishing attack does make its way into your company, you have a few options. But, it’s important to act as quickly as possible.
The first thing you should do is to make sure all of your important data and files are backed up. This is something you should be doing periodically, anyway. Some phishing hacks can cause businesses to lose all of the information on their systems. Having things backed up into a cloud-based space can give you peace of mind.
Additionally, you should scan your systems for malware, change any sensitive information (passwords, financial information, etc.), and work with a cybersecurity team or specialist to get you back on track and make it more difficult for these scams to occur in the future.
It’s also important to watch for warning signs in the months following an attack. Make sure you keep a close eye on your financial accounts as well as any other important information. Hackers can use information weeks later, or even months after the initial attack. By staying aware and alert, you can take action if you see your information being used or stolen.
Why Are Corporate Emails at Risk for Phishing Attacks?
As of 2018, there were nearly 125 billion business emails sent and received each day. On average, each office employee receives well over 100 emails each day. Hackers know this, and they want to take advantage of it.
So, corporate emails are at risk for phishing attacks for a few reasons. First, ‘phishers’ know that there could be a big payout if even one person falls for their scheme, depending on the corporation they work for. Why do they think someone might fall for it? Because of the number of emails employees receive in a single day.
When employees are so bogged down with hundreds of emails, they might be quick to open certain ones or click on links without even thinking about it. Many hackers today can make their scams look extremely professional and legitimate. That puts all businesses and employees at greater risk and requires extreme diligence from everyone.
What is the Definition of BEC (Business Email Compromise)?
Business Email Compromise is a term coined by the FBI. It is, at its very nature, the definition of a phishing scam. BEC occurs when a hacker sends an email that appears to be from a reputable or known source. The email will usually ask the recipient some sort of request, like clicking on a link.
Unfortunately, that’s all it takes for your company data to be compromised. That’s why it takes such a trained eye to determine which emails are actually legitimate and which ones are scams. Education is the key. Phishers are counting on your employees to be so overloaded that they ignore the details, and you can’t afford for that to happen.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to protect your business from phishing attacks. Putting precautionary measures in place and educating everyone you work with is your best chance to avoid these attacks and keep your data safe. But, if a hacker slips through the cracks and you do experience a phishing attack, don’t hesitate to call a professional as soon as possible, and remain aware of your data and important information for months following the attack.