Rising Danger of Phishing Attacks
- The number of phishing attacks is increasing exponentially
- Employee training is key to phishing attack prevention
- Phishing attack simulations can help educate employees and strengthen cybersecurity
- Monitoring the latest phishing trends can help streamline your cybersecurity measures
Phishing is the most common type of cyberattack with the highest success rate. Today, more than 90% of security breaches begin with phishing emails. However, only a small percentage of businesses implement strong security measures to prevent them.
Meanwhile, hackers are developing sophisticated phishing campaigns targeting the company’s weakest link – an employee. As time goes by, phishing strategies become more and more complex, costing affected companies millions of dollars annually.
To prevent a phishing attack, you need training and anti-phishing software. Let’s take a closer look at the way this works.
What Is a Phishing Attack?
A phishing attack is a cyber attack during which cybercriminals pose as trusted people or entities to fool a person into sharing sensitive information, downloading malicious files, or installing malware.
The traditional phishing attack comes in the form of an email. The message looks as if it came from a trusted source (bank, CEO, insurance company). It usually asks the recipient to click a link for several reasons (pay an outstanding invoice, change password, correct personal information, and more).
The link takes the user to a fake website that closely resembles the real one. When the person enters sensitive information (password, credit card number), cybercriminals record it. With this data, malicious actors can steal money, demand ransom, ruin the company’s reputation, and much more.
Phishing attacks come in different shapes and sizes. The most successful ones are spear phishing attacks. Hackers send hundreds of general emails during traditional attacks to fool at least a dozen users. Meanwhile, spear phishing involves studying the victim’s pain points and habits to ensure the message looks as legit as possible.
What Is a Phishing Campaign?
A phishing campaign is a set of deceptive techniques malicious actors use to steal business information.
When phishing attacks were born around 20 years ago, they were fairly straightforward. It was easy to tell a fake email from a real one. However, some people still fell for the scam.
Today, hackers have sophisticated phishing software at their disposal. These tools help them:
- Send out thousands of phishing emails simultaneously
- Schedule phishing campaigns so they reach maximum targets
- Set up ongoing phishing campaigns
- Create enticing subject lines
- Write appealing content
- Mimic domain names
Messages and websites look so realistic that the success rate of phishing campaigns is going through the roof. However, it still fully depends on the actions of the potential victim. The attack fails if the person doesn’t click the link or download an attachment.
That’s why it’s essential to set up a robust anti-phishing campaign that involves employee training and implementation of anti-phishing software.
What Is an Anti-Phishing Campaign?
An anti-phishing campaign is a set of tactics to counter a phishing attack. The key to avoiding phishing threats is training your staff. Your IT department or managed security service provider can arrange cybersecurity training courses that help employees identify and report phishing emails.
Employee Awareness Training
While employees are your biggest asset, they are usually the weakest link regarding phishing attacks. Educating them about the dangers of phishing attacks and possible scenarios can minimize or eliminate the threat.
As you run the phishing awareness campaign, you can identify high-risk employees who require additional training.
Phishing Attack Simulation
After you educate your team about the types and appearance of phishing attacks, you can run a phishing attack simulation.
During a simulated attack, your staff receives an email that resembles what they may get during a real attack. The program tracks and records the user’s actions and creates a report for the employer.
A robust phishing attack simulation can:
- Randomize attack scenarios, so employees don’t share them with each other
- Record user data when they press a “malicious” link or try to download an attachment
- Provide single and multiple phishing campaign reports
- Arrange instant guaranteed message delivery to the user’s inbox
Besides reinforcing employee training, a phishing simulation can help you review your cybersecurity integrity. It can also identify loopholes in employee training and provide insight into the need for authorization segmentation.
Since phishing attacks get increasingly sophisticated daily, phishing simulation programs also require timely updates.
While employee training is key to preventing phishing attacks, you can reinforce the protection by implementing anti-phishing software. An anti-phishing program can identify a potential threat and notify the user.
As part of email security, these programs can have a variety of features, including:
- Spam filters
- Malicious link detection
- Malicious file detection
- Customized filtering options
Anti-phishing software can be effective in preventing some phishing attacks. However, phishing methods are becoming more and more sophisticated by the hour. That’s why employee awareness remains the most efficient prevention method.
The Future of Phishing Attacks
Phishing is one of the oldest and highly successful cyberattacks in the world. In 2022, cybercriminals orchestrated 255 million phishing attacks. That’s 61% more than in 2021.
Since the success rate of phishing attacks is high, numbers continue to rise. New technologies allow cybercriminals to maximize the number of malicious messages while making it harder for recipients to tell them from real emails.
Cybercriminals are constantly implementing new forms of phishing. The latest is voice phishing or vishing. It involves a call from a “credible” source with a demand to share sensitive information. While somewhat less successful than digital phishing, vishing is gaining momentum.
Keeping Your Data Safe During a Phishing Attack
It’s only a matter of time before your company faces a phishing threat. Its consequences depend on the integrity of your cybersecurity measures.
Cybersecurity is an ongoing process that changes when new technologies or cyber threats emerge. That’s why staying on top of the latest trends is imperative.