How to Protect Against Phishing


Phishing attacks on the Internet have proliferated to such a degree that statistics related to the topic are pretty sobering. It is now estimated that more than 1% of all emails sent worldwide are phishing attacks, while 4% of branded emails are actually phishing attempts. Between October 2013 and May 2018, over $12 billion in losses were attributed to email phishing scams.


Clearly, this is something that your business wants to avoid. But how should you protect yourself against phishing attacks? There is no one silver bullet that can do this, rather a concerted phishing protection policy should be built around an overall diligent approach to weeding out this dangerous aspect of the modern Internet.


Be Vigilant


The first piece of advice when dealing with phishing attacks is simply to be sensible and vigilant at all times. You cannot afford to let your guard down, regardless of whether you’re surfing the Internet or accessing email. 


You should never click on links, download files, or open any email attachments unless you are absolutely 100% certain of their authenticity. It is also vital to be extremely wary of any communication that requests personal details. Be aware that legitimate organizations have stringent policies in place and will never request sensitive information via email.


Train Employees


Any organization is only as strong as its weakest employee, so it is essential to train staff in how to avoid phishing attacks. This training really needs to be delivered on an ongoing basis as well, as cybercriminals continually update phishing attempts.

Make sure that everyone working for your business is kept up to speed, is absolutely clear on what constitutes a phishing attack and get external trainers to deliver training courses if necessary.


Avoid Shortened Links


Everyone has seen shortened links on social media and these can indeed be useful. However, they should definitely be avoided, unless, again, you are absolutely 100% certain of their authenticity.

Cyber criminals will use shortened links, from the likes of Bitly, to hide their malicious intent. And then once you have clicked on a fake link, disaster can strike in a matter of seconds.


Phishing Techniques


One common technique that is used in phishing emails in particular is blackmailing and moral pressure. Those launching phishing attacks will often express in their emails that something needs to be done with the utmost urgency.

This is intended to capitalize on human psychological weaknesses and it is very rare that a reputable company will take such a tone. As soon as anyone starts threatening, or even intimating, that you need to do something immediately, you should definitely be questioning why.


Use Secure Browsing


By using a secure website, indicated by https:// and a security ‘lock’, you will massively reduce the chances that you can be subjected to phishing attacks. It is also important to understand the vulnerabilities of Wi-Fi and only used secure networks when doing anything remotely sensitive.

Cybercriminals will take advantage of any weakness in your Internet activity in order to launch successful phishing attacks and these can ultimately cost you a huge amount of money.


Verify Site Security


Any time that you are supplying sensitive financial information, or any form of private data, it is essential to verify the security of the site to which you are submitting it.

Checking the security certificate of the site can often be an excellent way of establishing whether a particular website contains malicious files. Never download anything from any website that is ever described as suspicious, in fact, you shouldn’t even really surf on such sites whatsoever.


Update Your Browser


Cybercriminals will always take advantage of exploits in commonly used computing software. Weaknesses in browsers in particular can be a great way for online phishing to gain traction, so it is vital that you update your browser, and all of the latest security data, on a very regular basis.

Do not ignore messages about updating this critical aspect of your Internet experience. Download and install every update that you receive at the first possible opportunity.


Use Firewalls


Although firewalls cannot prevent phishing attacks if you fail to act with sufficient vigilance, they can help filter out some of these nefarious attempts to steal your information. Firewalls act as a barrier between your computer and cybercriminals and everyone surfing on the contemporary Internet should definitely use firewalls at all times.


Be Wary of Pop-Ups


Pop-ups are quite frequently a tell-tale sign of an imminent phishing attack. It is quite common for cybercriminals to use pop-up windows in launching phishing attempts against your system. So it is advisable to avoid these windows completely and ideally block them out via browser options and plug-ins.


Don’t Reveal Sensitive Information


One of the simplest ways that you can protect yourself against phishing attacks is by never giving out personal information in the first place. You really shouldn’t share personal or financially sensitive information over the Internet, unless it is absolutely essential, or you are using a reputable shopping website. 


Stealing through phishing is all about inducing you to give up information that you should never reveal under any circumstances. So if you remain vigilant in this regard, you will make yourself considerably less vulnerable to phishing.


Install Pixm


Finally, it is advisable for all businesses looking to avoid phishing attacks to install Pixm. This software is the world’s first on-device package that provides phishing prevention at the point of click.

It quickly eliminates any and all phishing threats, blocking nefarious attempts to steal your personal data before they do any damage. It is undoubtedly a keystone in any anti-phishing portfolio.


Summary – How To Protect Against Phishing


The prominence and severity of phishing attempts should never be underestimated. Indeed, Trend Micro researchers found that more than 90% of targeted cyber attacks originated from phishing activity. 


Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that the modern Internet is absolutely riddled with phishing attacks. But by following the simple steps outlined in this article, you will avoid this form of cyber attack, secure your company’s data and avoid financial disaster.


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