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22 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Phishing Attacks
New research shows phishing scams remain a significant cybersecurity issue. Here are some ways to avoid being the next victim.
Phishing continues to be the weapon of choice for cyber attackers. Proofpoint’s 2021 State of the Phish Report identified phishing attacks as one of the top data security problems facing businesses, with 3 out of 4 organizations worldwide reporting attacks in 2020. When attacks were successful, 60% of organizations lost data and 47% were infected with ransomware.
These numbers alone shed light on why phishing remains a perennial favorite tactic in the cybercriminal toolbelt. And with 96% of phishing attacks delivered via email, it’s more critical than ever for workers to stay vigilant and think before they click.
Fortunately, there are some fairly simple ways to train yourself not to take the bait, no matter how sneakily it’s presented. Let’s begin by understanding our enemy.
What is phishing and how does it work?
Phishing definition: a fraudulent attempt to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information (usernames, passwords and banking details) by pretending to be a trusted source, often through an email communication.
Spear phishing – a more personalized way of targeting a victim – leverages three potential weaknesses in a recipient:
Phishing emails typically try to lure the recipient into doing one of two things: a) handing over sensitive or valuable information; or b) downloading malware. There are several types of phishing, and each has the potential to wreak havoc in an organization.
How to avoid phishing scams
From an organizational perspective, the FTC provides a helpful overview and good advice for recognizing and avoiding phishing.
Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to accounts if they do get a username and password.
These are critically important and useful steps toward safeguarding yourself and your organization against cybercriminals.
After employing the above, train staff to read all emails with a critical eye:
Hackers are clever and are always innovating new ways to breach cybersecurity defenses, so no single tactic is likely to afford 100% protection. But organizations can do a lot from a policy, procedures and training perspective to be more aware of phishing and how it works.
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