Phishing attacks are one of the most common IT threats facing businesses in Canada. Numerous reports show that Canadians are increasingly targeted by phishing scams: according to the RSA Quarterly Fraud Report: Q1 2020, more than 65% of all phishing attacks were aimed at Canadian users.
Perpetrators may launch attacks via text message, phone, or even social media, but email is the medium most commonly associated with this form of threat. But with people spending one-third of their time at work reading and responding to emails, it’s easy to miss warning signs of a suspicious message. And it could cause financial, operational, and reputational problems for your company.
So, what can you do to protect your employees and reduce the risk facing your business? We’ll explore five techniques, and the essentials of phishing attacks, below.
What is an Email Phishing Attack?
Perpetrators send phishing emails to trick targets into believing that a message is from a legitimate organization, institution, or individual, such as a bank or a well-known service provider. Criminals often aim to extract credit card details, passwords, and other information that would allow them to commit fraud or identity theft.
An employee may click on a link in a phishing email or provide sensitive information without realizing that the message isn’t from a genuine source. But the sooner employees recognize a phishing email, the sooner they can take action to prevent it from causing severe problems.
How Can Email Phishing Attacks Harm Your Business?
Phishing attacks can damage companies in a number of ways, including:
A perpetrator may use a phishing email to install malware on a system. For example, an employee could download an attachment, for example, and infect their computer with a program that spreads throughout your network.
In this case, your entire workforce may be unable to work as they usually would — or at all. And the resulting downtime could lead to loss of sales and reduced income. The attacker would also have access to company finances with the right banking information.
If existing or prospective clients discover that your business has been affected by a phishing attack, they may question how serious you are about protecting their data. Even if none of their information is exposed, a client may consider your business unsafe and try a competitor.
How to Protect Your Employees
Now that we’ve clarified what phishing attacks are, here are five ways to keep your employees — and your business — safe.
Educate Staff on Common Signs of Phishing Attacks
Around 40% of Canadian workers say their employers DON’T offer training in cybersecurity. That means close to half of businesses in Canada fail to educate their staff on phishing attacks and other common threats, such as ransomware and DDoS attacks.
Businesses may struggle to find the time or resources to offer training, but it’s vital to reduce the risk of falling victim to an attack. One essential element in an effective training plan is recognizing the warning signs of a phishing email. These include:
- Obvious spelling or grammar mistakes in subject lines and body of email. Many companies employ professional writers to create emails, so while there may be the occasional typo, consistent errors are unlikely.
- The sender’s email address appears illegitimate and unlikely to originate from a major organization or institution.
- Generic greeting and lack of personalization.
- Demanding information with an odd sense of urgency.
- Attachments you haven’t asked for or without explanation.
Ensure that employees understand what to look out for when receiving a suspicious email, and keep them updated on new phishing trends over time.
Update Your Software to Reduce Risks
Outdated or ineffective security software leaves your business vulnerable to various threats, including phishing scams. Installing the latest patches will ensure you have the most up-to-date version of software at all times.
Install the best antivirus and spam-filtering software you can afford for more reliable protection, too. Pushed for time? Cybersecurity specialists can help you choose high-quality security solutions while you focus on running your business.
Review Your Cybersecurity Measures and Fix Flaws
Your current IT infrastructure could have security weaknesses you’re unaware of, potentially giving phishing scammers a way into your network.
Conduct a comprehensive review of your present cybersecurity setup, including your antivirus software, firewalls, password policies, and anything else relevant. Issues should be rectified immediately to help protect your employees and business overall.
Reviewing your own information security, or any other aspect of your infrastructure, can be time-consuming and complicated. A professional team of information security experts will be dedicated to identifying flaws, finding solutions, and implementing fixes to help fight phishing attacks.
Implement a Clear Process for Reporting Suspicious Emails
When an employee receives a suspicious email, there’s a chance that they could forget about it and leave it in their inbox or delete the message without telling anyone.
However, if any employee suspects that they have received a potentially dangerous email, they should forward it on to your in-house IT team or external security specialists. Experts will investigate the email, determine whether it’s a legitimate risk or not, and block the sender. They will also raise the alarm and warn other employees of what to look out for.
Take Care Not to Reveal Information that May Help Scammers
Countless businesses interact with existing or potential customers via social media, marketing emails, and YouTube videos. But sharing information about your business, your staff, and companies you work with could provide scammers with the details they need to create a more convincing email.
Think carefully about what information you’re putting out there. Don’t make a scammer’s work any easier.
Take the First Step to Transform Your Information Security Now
Follow these five tips to protect your employees against phishing attacks. And if you want to refine or overhaul your information security, GenX’s managed security services are ideal.
Our CareForce Managed Security Service includes:
- Email spam blocking.
- Threat detection and response.
- Firewall with customizations.
- And more.