If you are a Southern Colorado business owner who relies on digital communications such as email for customers, vendors, and internal company contacts, you likely already know that understanding how to avoid phishing scams is crucial to the success and reputation of your business.
But in case there are any among us who doubt the serious consequences of falling for phishing scams, we are here to educate and provide solutions.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a cyber attack where hackers use fraudulent emails, websites, and other digital communication to steal personal information (like social security numbers, account information and passwords, and credit card numbers) from individuals and organizations.
The criminal uses complex computer programming and social engineering strategies to lure email recipients and Web visitors into believing that a spoofed website or email is legitimate. After the victim clicks on the link or downloads the attachment, malware is installed on their device, allowing the attacker to steal sensitive information – before the victim even knows it is happening.
Why Are Phishing Scams Still So Effective?
One of the main reasons why phishing scams are still as effective as ever is because scammers know how to bait their hook – they often present themselves as an authority figure from U.S. or Colorado state government, the IRS, your financial institution, and perhaps even friends or family members.
By creating a sense of urgency, phishing emails catch their prey by insisting that the recipient must act quickly to avoid catastrophe by clicking on a link or replying with confidential information to verify an account. These thieves count on their victims not risking financial stability by acting prudently. However, by following the link or opening the attachment, the victim takes the bait and falls for the scam.
The number of individuals and organizations affected by phishing scams continues to rise. Those of us who think we would never fall for these scams may have a hard lesson to learn.
How Can Your Business Avoid Phishing Scams?
To avoid phishing scams and keep your data secure, remember that knowledge is power. You, your employees, contractors, and anyone who accesses your business network need to know not just the dangers of phishing emails but how to recognize and deal with them. Here are several ways to educate your employees:
Establish a Strong Cybersecurity Policy
Every company, regardless of size (yes, even small mom-and-pop businesses), needs to formulate a cybersecurity guide that addresses what NOT to do, as well as what TO DO if a cyber threat occurs. Provide this guide to employees before they log into your network for the first time. And because cyber threats are ever-evolving, this should be a dynamic document that updates regularly.
Schedule a Security Awareness Training Session with a Managed IT Services Provider
In addition to providing a solid Cybersecurity policy to all employees and contractors, ensure that all new employees receive Cybersecurity Awareness Training in their orientation and that all employees receives supplemental training twice a year to help them avoid phishing scams.
Many Southern Colorado small business owners may find that scheduling this training and preparing the training materials and data is another item on their already over-packed to-do list. This is where a managed IT services partner like Amnet comes in. Our experts live and breathe the world of cybersecurity and can facilitate regular training sessions for your employees without the geek-speak.
These training sessions, conducted by professionals in the field, will empower your employees with information such as:
- Recognizing who the actual sender of a message is.
- Examining the salutation in the message – misspelling their name or using an impersonal greeting like “dear ma’am.”
- Being wary of malicious attachments, links, or phone numbers in email messages.
- Learning best practices for returning phone calls and emails and logging into websites from email links.
- Identifying fake URLs before clicking on them.
- When in doubt, DELETE.
What Other Actions Will Help Your Business Avoid Phishing Scams?
Education is the first step to take to avoid phishing scams, but there are other steps that will reduce the risk of phishing attempts making their way into your inbox. At Amnet, we recommend the following minimum steps to secure your data:
Install Anti-Phishing Software
Anti-phishing software can help protect your business from phishing scams by detecting and blocking suspicious emails and websites.
Keep Your Software Up-to-Date
Ensure your business’s software is always up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. This can help prevent vulnerabilities attackers can exploit to gain access to your network.
Require Strong Passwords
Require your employees to create strong passwords and to change them regularly. Weak passwords are a scammers dream, leaving your business vulnerable to phishing scams.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds yet another layer of protection to your business’s login process, so gaining access to sensitive data is much more difficult.
Monitor Your Network
Regularly monitor your network for suspicious activity. This can help you avoid phishing scams before they cause serious damage.
Regular firewall management will ensure that any IP address attempting trying to connect to your network is one you can trust.
Outbound Email Scanning
Outbound email scanning ensures that just because one of your users has fallen victim to a phishing scam, your outgoing mail services aren’t compromised. This will keep your company off spam lists and blacklists.
Did you notice how often the word “regular” appears in the above list? There is a good reason why your small business can’t affoavoid phrd to adopt a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ mentality for cybersecurity. Scammers are constantly developing new ways to lure you and your employees in, and your business must constantly develop new ways to avoid phishing scams.
Let Amnet Help Your Business Avoid Phishing Scams
Sadly, even savvy, intelligent individuals fall victim to phishing scams every day. Are you willing to risk your company’s success, profit margins, and reputation on the belief that it will never happen to you?