When we think of hacking, we don’t really think of social hacking. This type of hacking based on human weaknesses can be as dangerous as others and affect all businesses since every business has employees or users who can be vulnerable.
The main attack vector of social hacking is phishing. For some people it might be the first time they’ve heard the word “phishing”. For most it is a word that has been circulating within the cyber security industry for quite some time now. The reality of this attack vector is that it works, and it works well.
Indeed, phishing is one of the easiest and most common methods used by hackers to gain access to personal and confidential information. In this article we will explain you what phishing is, what risk it can represent, and how you can protect your business from this type of cyber-attack in future.
The risks of phishing
First, it’s important to understand the consequences of a phishing scam at home or at work. Phishing campaigns often target businesses for greater returns, but many also target individuals all around the world. Individuals are often the target of identity theft, but financial theft is also possible. Businesses are the target of financial theft, data theft, or theft of trade secrets.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common security challenges that individuals and businesses face when protecting their information. Whether obtaining passwords, credit cards, or other sensitive information, hackers use email, social media, phone calls, and any form of communication to steal valuable data.
Of course, business is a particularly valuable target. Indeed, the organizations having suffered from phishing attack lost data, had credentials or accounts compromised, were infected with ransomware/malware and experienced financial losses. In that way, phishing is the most expensive cause of data breaches, according to IBM, phishing breach cost an average of 4,91 million dollars (result of remediation cost, intellectual property loss, damaged reputation and
more). Moreover, according to Verizon, organizations also see a 5% drop in stock price in the 6 months following a breach.
Considering that, everyone should know what “phishing“ really is and how to prevent it.
What is phishing
Phishing is a type of social engineering that uses fraudulent emails to trick people into sharing their login details, passwords, or credit card information. There are many ways hackers will attempt to trick you into clicking a malicious link or sharing your information, but some of the most common methods include:
- Fake Website or App: This usually works by sending messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or website. The message usually contains a link that takes the user to a fake website that looks like the real one. The user is then prompted to enter personal information, such as their credit card number. This information is then used to steal the person’s identity or fraudulently charge their credit card.
- Fake Emails: This is the most common type of phishing attack. The intent of these phishing emails is to get you to click a malicious link or download malicious software. Once the hacker downloads the link or software, they can access your passwords, personal information, and device data.
Phishing emails are designed to look like they come from official companies, banks, or institutions to trick victims into revealing their sensitive information, but they are fraudsters trying to steal your personal data.
Cybercriminals often exploit our human vulnerabilities and psychological factors to steal credentials and gain unauthorized access. Since phishing and social engineering attacks primarily target people, the human factor remains an important factor. CISOs must consider it while protecting their organizations from cyberattacks. Most data breaches occur when humans make errors, act negligently, or lack awareness, such as clicking on the wrong link. As such, it is common for employees to increase their digital footprint without realizing the risks involved.
Thus, phishing mail is highly sophisticated to trick you into clicking on them using human weaknesses. In that way, phishing emails often have a very enticing subject line, with the intention of creating a sense of urgency to rush you into clicking on links before spotting the fraud or tempting you with something you want.
How to protect your business from phishing
Preventing phishing attacks can be easy, but it requires education and planning to protect your business if something goes wrong. First, it is critical to educate all employees about Internet/email best practices. Training your employees allows them to challenge communications that appear to be incorrect. It also allows them to follow best practices for investigating incoming communications.
You must make sure you teach all your employees not to click on links or open emails that contain certain file types, such as exe files. Always open separate web tabs and research incoming emails, senders, or links. In most cases, you’ll get search results that flag information as spam and/or malicious right away.
One training session for employees is not enough, there should be constant reminders and updates. If you spot a phishing attempt, let your employees know so they can familiarize themselves with their look and feel. When you involve your employees you increase your chances of protecting your business overall.
The best way to do this is to schedule regular phishing campaigns against them. Companies like XRATOR offer such phishing simulation services that allow you to create phishing campaigns that tell you how many people clicked on a link so you can provide them with more remediation and training.
Phishing is one of the easiest and most common methods used by hackers to gain access to personal and confidential information. It can involve huge loss to business. The best way to protect yourself from phishing is to remain vigilant and cautious online. The key to prevent phishing is to raise awareness and educate every employee who can be potential victim.