Cyber-attacks come in a variety of formats and with the advancement of technology it continues to improve. Phishing is a common type of cyber-attack used by cyber criminals, and according to Proofpoint’s threat report, 75% of organizations experienced a Phishing attack in 2020 (Proofpoint 2021 state of the Phish report).
Cyber criminals found a higher success rate in achieving their goals thorough email phishing rather than any other approach. This is due to the lack of awareness and knowledge on how to identify legitimate emails from fake ones. There are many ways that could help organizations in decreasing the numbers of successful phishing attacks and educating their employees on this topic is one of them. Being able to spot a phishing email is very helpful to achieve that goal.
So, what are phishing emails and how do you spot them?
What is Phishing?
First, we must define phishing, phishing is a malicious method used by cyber criminals to collect confidential data from users. The attackers pose as a trustworthy individual or organization in order to get the victims to trust them and disclose their personal information. Phishing attacks may be used for financial extortion, identity theft, and gaining unauthorized access to the victim’s account. Email phishing is one form of phishing used by cyber criminals.
Unfortunately, 96% of cyber-attacks are delivered through email (Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations report). One way cyber criminals can attack: A cybercriminal sends a phishing email to a victim, when the unsuspecting individual opens the email and clicks any link or downloads any attachment within the email, malicious malwares or key loggers are downloaded onto the users device and begin stealing the users information and could possibly spread to other users on the network! Cyber criminals use eye catching words such as Urgent! Attention! Important! this way they insure they grasp their victim’s attention and entice them into clicking on malicious links or opening malicious files.
Especially, with the recent global pandemic they know what society is looking out for, which is constant updates.
Therefore, the number of people who got hacked skyrocketed in this period. Many suffered from this and exposed their personal, financial, and medical data, in particular organizations. Last year, the number of business email compromise (BEC) attempts witnessed a significant 15% increase (Abnormal Security 2020 Quarterly Q3 BEC report). This proves the importance of educating your employees on how to be alert and distinguish phishing emails from authentic ones.
But how could you spot a malicious email from the hundreds you receive? Listed below are the top 5 ways to do so and which could help you avert future troubles.
5 Ways to Identify a Phishing Email:
1- ALWAYS check the sender domain before interacting with the email. This is one of the easiest giveaways to the hacker’s scheme. If the email is truly from your bank, then you would receive it from a private domain not a public one such as @gmail.com or @hotmail.com.
2- Spelling mistakes and grammatical error are evident in phishing emails. When an organization sends out an official email to its employees or customers they run it through a spell-checking tool to verify before sending. Which is why, when you see multiple errors in an email do not overlook it as simple mistakes, instead take it as a sign to not interact with it any further.
3- In phishing emails, malicious links and attachments are a staple. This way when you click on them you singlehandedly corrupted your cyber privacy. These attachments download malwares that can hack into your system and steal your personal data. So, do not be hasty on clicking anything until you determine the authenticity of it.
4- When you receive an email stating you won a prize or free subscription to something you never interacted with or visited, that can indicate the legitimacy of the sender. Also, when you start receiving newsletters for something you did not sign up for then it is a high chance of it being a phishing email.
5- Cyber criminals will most likely try to scare the victim into providing them the information they need by sending an important email that required immediate action for example it can be an email disguised as their bank or place of work, they do so by stating “Warning! Account will be closed if not…” and etc. This will urge the recipient in following the warnings afraid of any damage without thoroughly looking through the email checking for potential flaws.
Bonus: You could also implement a phishing simulation solution such as PhishGuard that trains your employees specifically about one of the most fundamental security threats, and to educate users on how to respond to the growing phishing security risks! PhishGuard also enables periodic assessment, measurement, and monitoring of your employees’ readiness to detect phishing scams.
Email phishing is one of the many ways to be taken advantage online, but after educating yourself around this topic, this could help in reducing the chances of being a future victim to this type of attack. Always be cautious when opening and interacting with any email you receive. This could spare you from future inconveniences.
Think, before you click!
Share this article:
Since the beginning of 2020 due to COVID-19 people have been social distancing and staying indoors as much as possible. Due to that the use of the Internet, E-commerce sites, and E-government operations have increased immensely and so have the attempts at phishing attacks. His Excellency Dr. Khaled bin Abdullah Al-Sabti, Governor of the Cybersecurity Authority, spoke during the opening of the Global Cybersecurity Conference on April 7th, 2021, about the high increase in phishing sites by about 300% and the importance of being aware. Below (Figure A-1 & A-2) we can see two different examples of Smishing Attacks during ...31st May 2021
Social engineers have found numerous approaches to exploit victims of their personal information. With the continuous increase of new cyber threats, society should be constantly informed and educated on how to distinguish and prevent them. Due to the direct interaction with the human user, social engineering is one of the most powerful methods of network penetration. Its success rate depends highly on the targeted individual’s knowledge and awareness. If they are oblivious of their tactics, then this makes the attacker’s job easy. Unfortunately, many fall for their schemes. Social engineering depends on human interactions and the flaws of humans. According ...29th Apr 2021
With the hit of the global pandemic and its effect on the world, cyber criminals took this to their advantage and capitalized on it. From the beginning of 2020, people’s lives changed drastically but especially employees and students. Online schooling and working from home are now the new norm and people needed to make this new adjustment while experiencing new threats and tactics from cyber criminals. Before the pandemic, cyber-attacks were a continuous issue for many but with more educational information on how to catch on to their tricks led to lower percentages of successful scams. But now, these criminals ...31st Mar 2021
Phishing attacks are not something that has come up recently. Such attacks have been around since the mid 90s, however, overtime, they have become more sophisticated. To make things worse, did you know that 32% of confirmed data breaches involved phishing? (Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report) And 57% of the organizations report having experienced mobile phishing attacks! (Wandera’s 2020 Mobile Threat Landscape Report). Before moving on to the latest trends in phishing, let us define it. What is Phishing? Phishing is one of the easiest and most common types of cyber attacks used by criminals and among the easiest ...25th Feb 2021
Introduction: In the early days, Cybersecurity (then called IT Security or information security) used to be merely a username and password. If you ask to someone, they would say I have a username and password so I am safe. It wasn’t much of the internet at that time. Eventually, people have learned that password isn’t sufficient to protect their digital assets. So Antivirus (AV) software flourished and we saw a plethora of internet security solutions that revolve around AVs used to catch the known malicious code which was enough of a validation for the vendors. Again, fast forward a couple ...21st Jan 2021