5 Ways to Protect Your Business Against Phishing Threats

As your enterprise’s digital ecosystem continues to evolve with digital transformation efforts, so do the threats to your growing attack surface. One danger that persists is email phishing. In an email phishing attack, cybercriminals impersonate legitimate organizations to trick individuals into revealing sensitive passwords or credit card information. Phishing is a significant business problem that can lead to data breaches, financial loss, and damage to your company's reputation. IT and cybersecurity leaders must remain vigilant to protect their enterprises against phishing attacks. This blog post will provide five practical strategies to protect your business against phishing threats.

  1. Use Security Software
  2. Protect Mobile Devices
  3. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  4. Train Your Staff
  5. Stay Informed

What Is Email Phishing?

Our partner, Palo Alto Networks, defines phishing as a “Form of social engineering where a threat actor sends one or more fraudulent communications to a user in an attempt to trick them into downloading malware onto a device or forfeit sensitive information such as login credentials, personally identifiable information (PII) or financial data.” These harmful communications are sent via email or text, catching users off guard. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, cybercriminals launch thousands of phishing attacks daily. Often, these attacks are successful. Typically, cybercriminals are motivated to steal sensitive financial or personal information for their gain. This data can then be sold to third parties, held for ransom, or destroyed. Enterprise industries, such as financial, banking, healthcare, media and communications, and telecommunications, store sensitive data attractive to cybercriminals. These enterprise industries are the most vulnerable and require stringent phishing security. 

While there are 20 types of phishing attacks, spear phishing attacks are the most common to be aware of.

What Are Spear Phishing Attacks?

Spear phishing attacks are precisely targeted cyber threats caused by criminals who leverage meticulously collected information about specific individuals to craft a personalized email or text content. These messages frequently contain malicious links or attachments. When the recipient clicks the link or interacts with the attachment in a spear phishing attack, it triggers the execution of malicious code on their systems, enabling unauthorized access to sensitive information by threat actors. Given the heightened level of sophistication in spear phishing attacks, this technique poses a significant challenge for cybersecurity professionals tasked with defending well-protected networks and systems.

Now that you know about the most common phishing attack learn five ways to fortify your security posture to protect against all kinds of attacks. 

1. Use Email Phishing Security Software

Many organizations, particularly small-to-medium enterprises, are often ill-prepared to handle phishing threats due to a lack of technical expertise or robust security software. This allows cybercriminals to infiltrate their systems, siphoning off invaluable data. Address this threat head-on with phishing security.

Phishing security software that is browser-based, email-based, network-based, API-based, etc., protects the various endpoints that might be susceptible to phishing attacks. Ensure that all potential attack vectors are secured with best-in-class security software. Implementing robust phishing security software can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks. Security software designed to combat phishing threats can automatically detect and quarantine phishing emails, block malicious websites, and prevent downloading dangerous files. 

Transitioning from the state of vulnerability to the secure state facilitated by phishing security software is achievable with strategic planning and investment. Businesses must conduct thorough research to identify the most suitable phishing security software for their specific needs based on their size, industry, and the sensitivity of the data they handle. For help determining the right anti-phishing software, contact a cybersecurity expert. 

2. Protect Mobile Devices

Mobile devices offer the convenience of accessing work anytime, anywhere, significantly boosting productivity. However, with this increased usage comes increased risk. Mobile phishing is a distinct type of phishing attack where smartphones and tablets have become new targets for phishing attacks. 

The key to mitigating this risk is to protect mobile devices robustly. Implement comprehensive mobile device management (MDM) solutions to ensure secure mobile device usage. These solutions allow companies to control, secure, and enforce policies on smartphones, tablets, and other endpoints, protecting them against phishing attacks. MDM solutions can further implement strong password policies, encrypt data, restrict the download of third-party apps, and even remotely wipe a device if it's lost or stolen. Anti-phishing apps and browsers designed for mobile devices can add protection, filtering phishing attempts and blocking access to malicious websites.

In addition to MDM solutions, implement a mandatory update policy for all mobile devices on your network. Regular updates provide critical protection against newly discovered vulnerabilities. 

Contact a cybersecurity expert to help identify the proper anti-phishing mobile device protection. 

3. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Verizon’s 2022 DBIR Report found that stolen credentials account for 50% of breaches. Stolen credentials are one of the primary ways for cybercriminals to infiltrate your business’ digital infrastructure. Despite expert advice and repeated warnings to create secure, complex passwords, many employees still use weak or repeated passwords across multiple platforms. As credential-based phishing attacks become more advanced, even those with strong passwords are not immune to having their login details stolen. In either case, once cybercriminals obtain login details, they can bypass security systems, access sensitive data, and even lock users out of their accounts. Each of these scenarios has dire consequences for a business.

Protect against credential-based phishing attacks by implementing a multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution across your organization. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to access a resource. With MFA, even if a cybercriminal manages to steal a user's password, they still need to bypass the second verification factor. Ensure the subsequent element (s) validates the user by their identity, something that the user has, i.e., their mobile device or app notification, or something that is only known to the employee.  

Select an MFA solution that suits your needs and scale. For help identifying the right MFA solution, contact a cybersecurity expert. 

4. Train Your Staff

Email phishing protection starts with training your employees to read emails with a critical eye. Your employees serve as your first line of defense against phishing attacks. They need to know how to recognize the signs of email phishing. Our partner Norton shares 18 tips for spotting a scam. These include educating your team to recognize phishing emails by an unfamiliar greeting or tone, grammar and spelling mistakes, suspicious links or attachments, inconsistencies in email addresses, and more.

Training, as a component of email phishing protection, should be mandatory. Consider ways your team learns best to cater email phishing protection training. Interactive training modules, workshops, and simulations can help employees understand what to look out for in the event of a phishing attack. You should also ensure you have an established action plan should your staff recognize a phishing attempt that includes a way to report the email and alert IT. All of these steps contribute to a solid email phishing protection plan. 

5. Increase Email Phishing Awareness

Cybercriminals constantly evolve their phishing strategies. Despite increased security measures and sophisticated technologies, emerging phishing threats pose significant risks. Staying aware of these trends can be difficult, but failure to do so can leave a business exposed to potential attacks. Consider your level of phishing awareness to formulate a plan of action. 

Increase your phishing awareness by staying alert to the latest trends in phishing attacks. Subscribe to cybersecurity news feeds, attend industry conferences, participate in online forums, and engage with other cybersecurity professionals.

Regular intelligence briefings and phishing awareness reports from credible sources can provide insights into the latest phishing techniques and the industries or sectors being targeted. Additionally, using advanced threat intelligence platforms automates phishing awareness, providing real-time updates on emerging threats.

Fortify Email Phishing Security with GenuineXs

In the digital age, cybersecurity is not a luxury but a necessity. By understanding the phishing threat and taking proactive measures, you can protect your sensitive information and maintain your customers' trust. Remember, the key to adequate phishing security is continuous learning and adaptation to the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. Learn more about the cybersecurity solutions modernizing enterprise security—and which work best for your organization. Talk to an expert at GenuineXs.

About GenuineXs

GenuineXs is a minority-woman-owned IT and cyber security firm.  Our security and engineering talent team guides enterprise companies out of cyber vulnerability and into Cyber Transformation.

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