Demystifying Phishing Attacks: How to Protect Yourself in 2023

In the digital era, you’re probably familiar with the prominent email attack that deceives recipients to gain access to their confidential information known as phishing. Phishing is an extremely popular form of cybercrime that has already claimed millions of victims worldwide.

The attack often results in serious consequences for its victims, including loss of revenue, reputation, and even forcing some businesses to close permanently. In 2023, phishing is still on the rise, putting businesses and their employees at risk. This article will discuss why phishing is still such a threat, and what you can do to keep yourself safe.

What Is Phishing and How Does It Work?

Phishing is a type of digital attack that involves threat actors sending malicious emails with the intention of tricking users into falling for a scam. The drive for a phishing campaign is typically to get victims to compromise their financial information, credentials or other sensitive data. Sending out spam email in bulk is a tactic that is commonly used by phishers in generic, large-scale campaigns, however, phishers are now shifting in favor of targeted, well-researched attacks. Modern phishing campaigns often employ social engineering, or techniques used to manipulate psychology. These deceptive tactics encourage recipients to act rapidly without taking a moment to think about the best course of action.

Phishing is a cheap, easy and effective method of attack, making it popular among cybercriminals. Phishing scams are virtually free for attackers to carry out, but carry hefty costs for their targets. More than 70% of phishing emails are opened by their targets and over 90% of security breaches in companies are a result of phishing attacks. Victims frequently end up with data loss, identity theft or malware infections - resulting in significant recovery costs and damaged reputations.

What Is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is a highly targeted version of phishing that involves sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from a known or trusted sender in order to obtain sensitive information. Spear phishing is becoming increasingly common because it is generally even more successful than conventional phishing in deceiving recipients. As opposed to sending hundreds of thousands of relatively generic emails out at a time, spear phishing campaigns involve researching victims and using advanced intelligence strategies to compose just a thousand or so convincing messages.

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

Recognizing A Phishing Email

Education and awareness are critical when it comes to phishing protection. Although phishing messages can be highly deceptive and difficult to detect, there are various best practices that you should implement to avoid biting thehook in a phishing attack. They include:

  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors which can indicate that 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, make a phone call to the sender to confirm the legitimacy of the email.
  • If you receive an email from a source you know but it seems suspicious, contact that source with a new email, rather than just hitting reply.
  • Scan all attachments for viruses or dangerous code.
  • Verify shared links to ensure that they do not lead to fraudulent websites or malicious code.
  • Think before you act! Take time to 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?

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

Some indications that this is a fraudulent email include: 

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

How To Protect Business Email From Phishing Attacks

Employee training is an important aspect of securing business email accounts against phishing scams; however, user behavior is ultimately unpredictable. Thus, to effectively protect against phishing, a safeguarded environment must be built around the user. This can be achieved through implementing an advanced, comprehensive email security solution that is capable of identifying and blocking the most stealthy spear phishing attempts in real-time.

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security: Combat Phishing with Proactive, Multi-Layered Business Email Protection

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

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

Keep Learning About Phishing Prevention

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

  • Learn more about an effective email security solution that understands the relationships you have with other people while gaining a deeper knowledge of the types of conversations you have with them.
  • Prepare your business for cyberattacks to make sure employees stay safe online.
  • Improve your email security posture to protect against attacks and breaches by following best practices.
  • Keeping the integrity of your email safe requires securing the cloud with spam filtering and enterprise-grade anti-spam services.
  • Get the latest updates on how to stay safe online.

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

Download Our Phishing eBook >

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