What Is Phishing & How Can You Prevent It?

in Software

Phishing is a tactic that cybercriminals can use in order to gain access to networks so that they can infect them with ransomware and steal patient data. It is a form of cybercrime that involves targeting people by sending them emails, text messages, or telephone calls. This is used to try and lure individuals into providing sensitive data. The cybercriminal was pose as a legitimate institution in order to try and extract personally identifiable information, for example, passwords, credit card details, and banking information.

There are a number of different features that the vast majority of phishing emails tend to have in common. This includes the following:

  • An unusual sender. If the email looks like something unknown, employees need to be cautious. Also, they should always check the email address carefully. A lot of the time, phishing emails are sent from addresses that look very similar to recognisable organisations, yet if you look closer, they are spelt differently.
  • People should never open attachments that they were not expecting; they will often contain viruses.
  • Whenever a hyperlink is incorporated into an email, employees should hover their mouse over it, as this will show where the hyperlink is going to take them too. Again, look out for spelling mishaps with this one to be sure you don’t end up clicking on something you should not.
  • Sense of urgency. A lot of the phishing emails used will have a real sense of urgency. This is because cybercriminals want you to act fast so you don’t have time to think about your actions.
  • Too good to be true. The vast majority of phishing emails seem too good to be true, and that is because they are.

Of course, this just relates to phishing emails. As mentioned, phishing can also occur via telephone and via text message. You have probably heard about the common scenario over telephone whereby the person on the other line tries to convince you to allow them to have remote access to your computer or they state you are eligible for some form of compensation. Employees need to be savvy and they should never give out personal details. Even banks will not ask for your full password.

How can you minimize the risk of phishing?

There are a number of different steps that you can take to minimize the risk of phishing. One of the most important things you need to do is make sure your employees are educated about the risk, which is where IT consulting for SMEs comes in. An employee training program administered through an IT service company can help minimize risk. This is an essential part of HIPAA Compliance. If your business becomes a victim of a phishing attack and it is shown that you did not take the steps to educate your employees and prevent this from happening, you could find yourself at a huge risk of fines and your reputation could be in tatters.

Aside from employee training, there are a number of other things that can be done to ensure that your business is protected from the risk of phishing. This includes using spam filters. Spam filters can be very helpful in terms of preventing spam emails from getting into your inbox. However, they don’t offer the same luxury when it comes to phone calls. It is also advisable to assess your browser settings. You need to make sure that your features are customized so that fraudulent websites are prevented from being opened. Fake websites are kept on file by browsers so that when you try to access such a site, an alert message is shown or the website is automatically blocked.


Image Credits: Chris J. Davis

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