Phishing attacks are real. The most common way to accomplish this practice is by sending an email with a link. Upon clicking on this link, it transports you to a site that looks authentic, but on a closer look, it is a fake web page.
On this fake web page, the recipient is tricked into giving money, personal information and in worse cases, both. Phishers target the recipient’s information to use into their own advantage, usually criminal activities. This is enough reason to apply phishing prevention best practices.
Phishing activities are advancing. They have become more sophisticated, which make it harder to distinguish them from what is real. While the majority of companies have employed mechanisms to tackle phishing activities (spam detection filters, 2 step verification, and malware detection software, etc.), much is still needed to ensure your information stays safe.
Vigilance is the key factor to put in mind. Every consumer must be on guard to ensure that their information stays safe.
Did you know that more than 90% of cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email? Cyber attackers prefer using emails; because they are cheap and require little knowledge. Above all, they are highly effective.
Effects of phishing emails
If a phishing attack is successful, you can find yourself as:
- Victim of identity theft
- Theft of money
- For companies, it exposes the information of clients to unauthorized individuals.
This is certainly devastating. Take an example of data breaches. How do they occur? It is only a single successful phishing attack. Vital data is lost. To companies, it might cost them massive losses. This is very costly.
When dealing with phishing prevention best practices, mitigation and management are best bets rather than solving the actual problems.
Mitigation employs a holistic approach. For example, if you only train your employees about phishing attacks without technology involvement, it works superficially. So for better protection, you need to train employees on awareness as well as technology.
The technology involves issues like a combination of cloud-based solutions and on-premise solutions. This simply implies taking a multilayered approach to email defense. Keep in mind that using each technology separately avails meager results.
Individual and large/small business need to employ effective methods to prevent cyber-attacks through phishers. Each year, about 76 percent of companies’ victims of phishing attacks, according to Wombat. This is a large percentage.
Phishing Prevention Best Practices
It’s logical to apply best practice that can keep you safe. Follow the methods below to stay safe from phishing and spoofing attacks.
Never click on hyperlinks sent through emails
The most successful way that scammers use is sending a link through your email address. Most unsuspecting clients click on these hyperlinks, which takes them to a web page that looks similar to a legitimate page. This is the beginning of scamming.
When you get an email with such link, and you need to visit the website just to confirm, type the URL manually into the web browser, rather than clicking the hyperlink.
Similarly, attachments send through emails are not safe. They come with friendly language to lure you into a trap. Mostly, they contain malware or Ransomware which spies on you.
It is essential to avoid emails from unknown senders.
Be wary of pop windows
Phishers use popup windows to execute their phishing attacks. Whenever you are online, and you see a popup window requesting for specific sensitive details, do not give any. Instead of close the popup window and leave that page.
As one of the phishing prevention best practices, you must restrict the use of pop-up windows unless you are dead sure of the site you are browsing. It is only trustworthy sites that have safe popup windows.
Do not be intimidated
Phishers are very excellent at scaring their targets. Phishers scare you of actions like terminating service or warn you of unspecified consequences if you do not send particular information on short notice.
For sure, this might seem legitimate. However, you need to take your time. No reasonable person will ask you for sensitive information online. To make it worse, on a quick notice.
Read through the message careful to ascertain its authenticity. If you doubt the source and the information of the email, the best thing is to call the sender. Also, contact the legitimate site to authenticate the data.
Another way to confirm is to type the URL manually.
Education and training or employees on phishing attacks
People who engage in phishing are usually ahead of their clients. Even large organizations with multilayered security features fall victim of these heinous actions.
Sensitizing workers on how phishing occurs, and how to prevent it is a very vital step. It makes the team stay abreast with current trends and technologies employed in the prevention of phishing attacks.
The internet is full of information regarding phishing attacks. Still, organizations can employ IT specialist to educate and train on phishing attacks.
Remember, there are training courses online which you can register and train yourself.
Check the HTTPS address
Most internet users are less concerned with the address of the site they visit. That is why scammers take advantage of ignorant victims.
The first place to check should be HTTPS. Scammers use it as HTTP. The latter is a scam. The letter S must be included. It’s a confirmation that data is being sent through a secure channel.
Make use of the anti-spam software
Anti-spam software comes in handy in preventing spam emails from reaching your inbox. Have you ever checked your spam folder? Trust me you’ll be amazed by the number of mails therein.
When you use anti-spam software, it can protect against phishing attacks to some extent. It works by filtering out a large number of suspicious emails. So it is prudent that you install such software as a way of protecting your systems and devices.
Use a reliable firewall
Use of firewalls is one of the phishing prevention best practices to be employed if you want to keep your information safe. All business -small and large needs to install a reliable firewall. In addition, maintaining the firewall in a prime status guarantees you a higher level of security than without.
How does the firewall work? A well-maintained firewall cushions against the introduction of malicious code onto a computer. Such codes are forms of phishing attacks.
Use anti-spy software
Preventing phishing attacks requires a holistic approach. Anti-spy software makes a better part of this comprehensive effort to thwart the attempt of phishing attacks. The software will not wholly eliminate threats, but it will lessen (to a greater extent) any spyware that might have found its way into your computer or network.
If you are able to significantly reduce the amount of spyware that ends up in your devices, you also reduce the number of phishing attacks.
Protect against DNS pharming attack
DNS pharming is the modern way of committing phishing attacks. This method does not involve popup windows or email. Rather, the attackers poison the local DNS of a victim, which interrupts the effort of a victim to land on to a legitimate website.
Essentially, a victim is misrouted to a legitimate-looking website, but in a real sense, it is a fake one. If you are not keen, you’ll not realize that you are on a fake website. The attackers will then ask for sensitive information.
To protect yourself from such kinds of phishing attacks employ security techniques that lock down the DNS server.
Utilize a backup system
A backup system is a must-have for any business or individuals. In case of a phishing attack, having a backup ensures that your information remains uncorrupted.
Cloud-based email protection
The use of cloud-based email system is the best way to protect against threats before they reach your inbox. Phishing prevention best practices rely on the vigilance of business owners. When they apply for cloud-based email protection, they stop threats before they hit their inbox. This protects confidential information.
Phishing attacks are costly and can destroy your reputation. It, therefore, calls for measures that will ensure the utmost protection for your system. What most people do not understand is that phishing threats are two way.
Phishing usually is accompanied by spoofing. While you can manage to stop malicious emails, attackers can use our domain to against you. This is in cases where you are not using authenticated emails – spoofing. Such activity can cost your business its reputation. When you protect your employees and customer, you maintain the integrity of your business.
Phishing prevention best practices are vast. However, sending cryptographically signed mails form an authenticated email server can take you a great length in ensuring the security of your information. An example of authenticating your emails involves use of DomainKeys Identified Mail.