Don't Take the Bait: Shielding Your Business from Phishing Scams
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Whether it's a fake email from an attractive “Nigerian prince” asking for assistance in recouping a large sum of money, or a seemingly legitimate bank notification regarding suspicious activity on your account, phishing and social engineering scams are becoming more sophisticated and harder to spot.
In this blog post, we will explore what phishing and social engineering attacks are, how to recognize them, and best practices to protect yourself from these attacks.
What is a phishing scam?
Phishing scams are fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and social security numbers. These scams often involve sending emails or messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank, social media platform, or e-commerce site.
The emails often contain a call to action, such as clicking on a link, downloading an attachment, or entering login credentials. Once the recipient clicks on the link or enters their information, the attacker can use that information for fraudulent purposes.
Spear-phishing is a more targeted form of phishing. In a spear-phishing attack, the attacker researches their target and tailors the email to appear more personalized and relevant to the recipient. The email may appear to come from a colleague, a friend, or a trusted business partner, and may contain information that is specific to the recipient's job or interests. This makes the email more convincing and increases the likelihood that the recipient will click on the link or provide the requested information.
How social engineering attacks work
Social engineering attacks work by manipulating people to divulge sensitive or confidential information, usually through digital communication, that can be used for fraudulent purposes. In a typical social engineering attack, a cybercriminal will communicate with the intended victim by saying they are from a trusted organization or even impersonating someone the victim knows.
Most social engineering attacks rely on actual communication between attackers and victims, where the attacker tends to motivate the user into compromising themselves, rather than using brute force methods to breach their data.
Social engineering attacks work because humans can be compelled to act by powerful motivations, such as money, love, and fear, and adversaries play on these characteristics by offering false opportunities to fulfill those desires.
How to recognize a phishing email
Phishing emails are designed to look like legitimate emails from trusted sources. However, there are a few telltale signs that can help you recognize a phishing email.
Check the sender's email address. Often, the email address will be different from the legitimate source, even if it appears to be similar. For example, a phishing email from PayPal might use a domain like "paypal.co" instead of "paypal.com."
Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Legitimate companies and organizations typically have a proofreading process in place to catch errors.
Look for urgent or threatening language in the email. Phishing emails often use fear or urgency to compel the recipient to take action quickly. Here are some common scams to be on the lookout for:
Types of Phishing Scams
Vendor payment phishing scam: In this phishing scam, cybercriminals send an email to a small business employee who handles vendor payments, posing as a vendor or supplier. The email may claim that there is an issue with the vendor's payment information or that the vendor needs to be paid immediately. The email often includes a link to a fake payment portal or requests that the employee send the payment information via email. Once the employee enters the payment information or sends it via email, the attackers can steal the payment information or redirect the payment to their own account.
Office 365 phishing scam: Many small businesses use Microsoft Office 365 for their email and productivity needs. In this phishing scam, cybercriminals send an email to a small business employee, posing as Microsoft or the company's IT department. The email may claim that the employee's Office 365 account has been compromised and that they need to reset their password immediately. The email often includes a link to a fake Office 365 login page. Once the employee enters their login credentials, the attackers can use that information to access the company's Office 365 account and steal sensitive information.
CEO fraud phishing scam: In this phishing scam, cybercriminals send an email to a small business employee, posing as the company's CEO or another high-ranking executive. The email may request that the employee transfer money to a vendor, client, or offshore account. The email often includes urgent language and may claim that the transfer is part of a confidential project. Once the employee initiates the transfer, the attackers can redirect the funds to their own account or steal the employee's login credentials. This type of attack is particularly effective against small businesses, as employees may be more likely to comply with requests from their executives.
LinkedIn phishing scam: LinkedIn is a popular social media platform for professionals, and cybercriminals often use it to launch phishing attacks. In this scam, attackers send emails to LinkedIn users, posing as the company and requesting that the user update their profile information. The email often includes a link to a fake LinkedIn login page. Once the user enters their login credentials, the attackers can use that information to access the user's LinkedIn account and steal personal information.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Best practices to protect yourself from phishing and social engineering attacks:
Be cautious of emails or messages from unknown senders, especially if they contain links or attachments.
Verify the identity of the sender before clicking on any links or entering any information.
Use strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Keep your computer and software up to date with the latest security patches and updates.
Educate yourself and your employees about the dangers of phishing and social engineering attacks.
The best way to avoid falling victim to phishing or social engineering attacks is by protecting yourself with comprehensive cybersecurity tools.
How Lockwell Protects You
Account Management: Lockwell's password manager allows employees to securely store and manage their login credentials. This helps prevent them from falling prey to phishing attacks that trick them into revealing their passwords. Additionally, the easy employee onboarding and offboarding process ensures that when an employee leaves the company, their access to company accounts and systems is revoked immediately, reducing the risk of social engineering attacks.
VPN: Lockwell's VPN module protects the small business's network security by providing a dedicated IP address. This helps prevent attackers from impersonating the company's network and using social engineering tactics to trick employees into revealing sensitive information.
Device Security: Lockwell's device security module includes anti-malware protection and real-time threat analysis and remediation. This helps protect against malware and other malicious software that attackers may use to steal sensitive information through phishing attacks.
Dark Web Monitoring: Lockwell's dark web monitoring module constantly scans the dark web for company data, including login credentials and other sensitive information. This helps prevent attackers from using this information to launch phishing or social engineering attacks against your business.
Overall, Lockwell provides a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity that can help small businesses protect themselves against phishing and social engineering attacks. By monitoring all four modules and providing automated alerts and remediation instructions, Lockwell can help small businesses stay ahead of potential threats and reduce the risk of cyber attacks.