Demystifying Phishing Attacks: How to Protect Yourself in 2024

In the digital era, you’re probably familiar with one of the most prominent email attack types, phishing. Phishing is when a cybercriminal deceives recipients to gain access to their confidential information, and it is a prevalent cybercrime that has claimed millions of victims worldwide.

A phishing attack often results in severe consequences for its victims, including loss of revenue and reputation and even forcing some businesses to close permanently. Heading into 2024, phishing is still a rising crime, putting businesses and their employees at risk. This article will discuss why phishing is a threat and how to protect yourself against it.

How Does Phishing Work?

a fish hook on computer keyboard representing phishing attack on computer systemA phishing attack tricks users into falling for a scam, as it is a type of digital attack that involves threat actors sending malicious emails. The drive for a phishing campaign is typically to get victims to compromise their financial information, credentials, or other sensitive data. Phishers will send out spam emails in bulk, most commonly in generic, large-scale phishing campaigns. However, phishers are now shifting in favor of targeted, well-researched attacks. Modern phishing attack types often employ social engineering or techniques to manipulate a person’s psychology. These deceptive tactics encourage recipients to act rapidly without thinking about the best course of action.

Phishing is a cheap, easy, and effective type of threat, making it popular among cybercriminals. These scams are free for attackers but carry hefty costs for their targets, who open over 70% of phishing emails. Over 90% of email security breaches in companies are due to one of the types of phishing attacks. Victims frequently face data loss, identity theft or malware infections, significant recovery costs, and damaged reputations.

What Is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is a highly targeted type of phishing attack involving sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from a known or trusted sender to obtain sensitive information. Spear phishing emails are becoming increasingly common because they are even more successful than conventional phishing campaigns in deceiving recipients. As opposed to sending hundreds of thousands of relatively generic emails at a time, spear phishing campaigns involve researching victims and using Advanced Intelligence strategies to compose just a thousand convincing spear phishing emails that can be sent at the same time.

Spear phishing can be seen as a double-play cyber crime - threat actors can compromise the identity of one business and then use it to steal sensitive information from another. Over 95% of all attacks on enterprise networks are attributed to spear phishing.

How Can I Recognize A Phishing Email?

Email security awareness, training, and education are critical when it comes to phishing protection. Although phishing messages can be highly deceptive and difficult to detect, there are various best practices for email security that you should implement to avoid biting the hook in a phishing attack, including:

  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors that indicate an email is fraudulent or malicious. Also, keep an eye out for suspicious subject lines and signatures.
  • If an email appears strange in any way, call the sender to confirm the email's legitimacy.
  • If you receive an email from a source you know that seems suspicious, contact that source with a new email rather than just hitting reply.
  • Scan all attachments with a malware URL scanner for viruses or dangerous code.
  • Verify shared links to ensure they do not lead to fraudulent websites or malicious code.
  • Think before you act! Evaluate each email you receive before clicking on links or downloading attachments. For example, ask yourself: Does an order confirmation email you’ve received correspond to a recent purchase you have made? Do the sender and recipient addresses make sense?

Can You Spot the Phish?

The image below is a spear phishing email identified and quarantined by Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security. It mimics a legitimate FedEx shipment confirmation email very closely. Can you spot the phish?

fedex fraud email

Some indications that this is a fraudulent email include the following: 

  1. An invalid “From” email address
  2. Invalid tracking information which differs in the subject and the body of the email
  3. A malicious attachment in the bottom left corner - FedEx does not send tracking information as an attachment.

How Can I Protect Business Email From Phishing Attacks?

Employee training is vital to securing business email accounts against phishing campaigns; however, user behavior is unpredictable. Thus, to effectively ensure phishing protection, a safeguarded environment must be built around the user. This can be achieved by implementing an advanced, comprehensive email security software solution to identify and block the most stealthy spear phishing emails and attempts in real time.

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security: Combat Phishing with Comprehensive, Proactive Business Email Protectionengardeshieldtransparent.png

Guardian Digital Cloud Email Security provides innovative real-time phishing protection against the most targeted and sophisticated phishing campaigns and the expert-managed mail security services required to keep your users and critical assets safe. Key features of EnGarde’s phishing protection include:

  • A scalable and customizable cloud-based system
  • Policy-based encryption throughout
  • A resilient and real-time learning open-source design
  • Innovative zero-day advanced threat protection
  • A fully-managed system which reduces your in-office support
  • Phishing, spambot, and email spoofing attack protection

Keep Learning About Phishing Prevention

Phishing prevention can be difficult, but following the tips and advice outlined in this article can significantly minimize your risk of falling victim to digital scammers.

Want to learn more about phishing and how to protect your users and key assets with intuitive, layered supplementary email protection?

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