According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), phishing was the most common type of cybercrime in 2020. In fact, the frequency of phishing attacks doubled from 114,702 incidents in 2019 to 241,324 incidents in 2020. According to another report, 75% of businesses were targeted by different types of phishing attacks.
These are alarming numbers but what’s even more alarming is that 96% of phishing attacks are coordinated through emails. With businesses being the prime target of phishing attacks, they need to be extra cautious. What makes businesses more vulnerable to phishing attacks is that they still use email as a primary method of communication.
How can you protect your employees from phishing attacks in such a situation? If you are looking for the answer to this question then you are at the right place. In this article, you will learn about seven important steps you can take to minimize the impact of phishing attacks.
7 Steps to Minimize the Risk of Phishing Attacks
Are you worried about attackers tricking your employees into a phishing attack? Here are seven steps you can take to neutralize phishing emails.
1. Employee Awareness Is Key To Success
Employees are the weakest link in your cybersecurity chain and cybercriminals know this very well. This is why they target them with different types of social engineering attacks such as phishing and spear phishing. The best form of defense you can build against such threats is to empower your employees with cybersecurity awareness and training. The more cyber aware your employees are, the less likely they are to fall victim to these phishing attacks.
Simply conducting cybersecurity training and launching a cybersecurity awareness program won’t suffice. You need to constantly update it with fresh content. Evaluate how much your employees have learned from the training program by launching mock phishing attacks. This will give you a better idea of how your employees can respond to phishing emails. Will they click on a malicious link and give out their sensitive details or identify and report phishing emails to the concerned authorities.
2. Time Is Crucial
Time plays an important role in determining the effectiveness of your response to a phishing attack. The longer your employees take to report a phishing attack, the more damage it will do. On the contrary, if your employees report phishing emails as soon as they receive them, it will assist your cybersecurity team in mitigating the damage. The more time your cybersecurity team takes to identify the root cause of a phishing attack and fix the vulnerabilities, the greater the damage to your critical business infrastructure.
3. Boost Perimeter Defenses
You might have heard people telling you that technology can not protect you from cybersecurity threats on its own; you need humans backing it up. This is true to some extent, but it in no way means that you should completely ignore it. Invest in DDoS protection, firewall, intrusion detection and prevention systems and use encryption wherever possible. This will help you to minimize the risk of phishing attacks. Keep an eye out for indicators of compromise and feed that data into your cybersecurity tools. This will enhance their effectiveness at detecting and preventing cybersecurity attacks, such as phishing attacks, and also give you more control and visibility over your critical business infrastructure.
4. Create a Blacklist
One common trick that cybercriminals have up their sleeve is that they send you a malicious link via email and lure you into clicking it. As soon as you click on the link, you will be directed to a malicious domain where you will be asked to enter your credentials, which would then be spoofed and stolen. If there is malware involved, they would target your command and control centre to target communications before doing any damage. Once you understand this, it would be much easier for you to protect your employees from phishing attacks. Create a backlist of malicious domains to prevent employees from falling victim to phishing attacks.
5. Ensure Secure Browsing
Due to an increase in phishing threats, search engines like Google have started warning users when they are about to visit a malicious link. It will alert you with a warning when you click on a link that leads you to a malicious page or you are about to download a file with malicious code. You can take advantage of the Google Safe Browsing service to check every link before clicking on it and it will tell you whether it is safe to visit or not. Avoid clicking on links that point to a suspicious source. This will help you keep your web browsing sessions secure and stay away from such websites.
6. Keep Everything Up to Date
Hackers usually exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software or old hardware to fulfil their malicious designs. If you are still using legacy systems, it is time to upgrade to newer or more secure systems. Similarly, if you are still stuck on the older version of operating systems or software, you need to update them as soon as possible. Newer versions of software come with bug fixes and eliminate security vulnerabilities and loopholes to offer a smooth and secure user experience.
7. Email Security and Content Filtering Tools
Since most phishing attacks use email, you need to invest in email security solutions if you want to protect your business from phishing attacks. Secondly, adopt content filtering tools that can chafe out malicious emails from legitimate ones. While you cannot completely get rid of malicious emails, it would certainly reduce the number of spam emails. Make your email security systems more efficient by feeding indicators of compromise data. You will end up with fewer spammy or malicious emails.
How do you protect your employees from falling victim to phishing attacks? Share it with us in the comments section below.