How to Stop Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are far from new, but they are becoming increasingly prevalent. Yet despite the fact that most people are now familiar with this form of fraud, clearly not enough is being done to address the issue.
Indeed, research indicates that 93% of data breaches are still caused by phishing, with the majority of these coming through email.
Phishing is now costing companies billions of dollars, with businesses of all sizes, in every conceivable industry, potentially affected. However, there are ways that we can fight back against the scourge of phishing emails. In this article, we will be going over some of the most prominent.
Top of the list is Training, for one simple reason…prevention is always better than a cure. Targeting the weaker employees in an organisation, has proved extremely fruitful for those attempting to acquire personal data.
So the best way to address this is simply to ensure that every employee is adequately trained in the dangers of phishing emails.
While external training can certainly be useful in this area, it is also possible to point members of staff in the right direction. Looking out for the following factors is critical in the process of preventing phishing emails doing unwanted damage:
- All unsolicited emails should be viewed with suspicion. Particularly if they are written with poor spelling and grammatical errors.
- Many emails requesting personal information, such as bank details, passwords or basically anything that you would usually wish to keep private. Should definitely be viewed with extreme suspicion.
- Be careful to consider the source of all emails. It is quite often possible to weed out phishing emails by simply establishing that they do not emanate from the source that they are claiming.
- Another useful technique is to hover your mouse above any link in a particular email and checkout the URL or web address that appears in your browser. This can be a major clue as to whether or not a particular email is legitimate.
Another way of preventing phishing emails from hitting their targets is to use employee email authentication, preventing them from appearing in email inboxes in the first place.
One popular form of this is the Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) standard, which is used to protect email users from fraudulent communications. This system is able to validate emails by detecting malicious content.
There are various ways of authenticating email, with many email providers also include spam filters and other techniques intended to eliminate phishing emails and other malicious content.
These are definitely valuable weapons in the fight against phishing, but they also shouldn’t be seen as silver bullets that solve the problem completely.
Hackers attempting to steal passwords love weak password management. Which is why many commercial sites now require users to create stronger login details.
However, there are still plenty of people out there using pathetic passwords, such as “123456” and ‘Password.’ You really need to encourage employees to create strong and legitimate passwords, as this will make it much more difficult for hackers to break into email systems.
Strong Software Suite
It goes without saying that you should be running programs in order to assist with viruses, phishing and other forms of malicious attacks. Ensuring that these are as strong as possible, should be a responsible part of any IT policy.
Furthermore, endpoint protection is particularly important. You should ensure that anti-malware programs are updated regularly and this also applies to other aspects of your IT provision that may be less directly obvious, such as operating systems and everyday applications.
Many attackers take advantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of software. It is critical to catch everything on your system as regularly as possible.
The fight against phishing emails has certainly proven to be a challenging one. So it is excellent news that artificial intelligence can now assist with eliminating these unwanted messages.
It’s still critically important for members of staff to be fully educated on the dangers of phishing emails but machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques are assisting with this process.
AI and machine learning can be deployed in order to observe, record and ultimately learn the attributes and behaviours of malicious emails.
Meaning that anti-phishing attempts have become more sophisticated. Many people believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning are our most valuable defense yet against phishing emails. Owing to the incredible ability of AI to continually refine its approach to any procedure.
Know Your Backups
Another valuable strategy to put in place is a backup system, in the event that the worst-case scenario occurs. If you do fall foul of a phishing email, then you need to know that your backup systems are in place, so that you can react quickly and effectively.
Don’t underestimate the deviousness of phishing emails; a recent Gmail scam even outwitted some IT professionals.
So standard cybersecurity precautions such as multi-factor authentication, password managers, random, unique passwords and the regular backing up of data are all extremely valuable.
If you’re fortunate and well prepared, you may never be caught out by a phishing scam. However, good preparation for such an eventuality is definitely recommended.
Finally, it is worthwhile to consider implementing cryptographic hashing in your IT systems, which make it difficult, if not impossible, to work out input data. This can help protect your systems, even if phishing emails are successful in installing malware.
A more advanced version of hashing is sometimes described as salt and hash and this effectively adds an extra layer of encryption, making it even harder for attackers to gather any valuable data.
In summary, there are a variety of techniques and approaches that you can implement in order to seriously reduce the dangers of phishing emails. But no matter how conscientious you are with regard to this issue, it is important to take nothing for granted and never become complacent.
Staying vigilant in every way possible is essential, if you are to ensure that your business avoids the dangers of phishing emails.