Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to trick you into stealing you and your company’s sensitive information. They often offer “too good to be true” schemes that need immediate attention. Other times, they imitate a respected company to try to get you to click their link, which then installs viruses and ransomware on your network. Luckily, there are several phishing tips you can use to protect yourself from phishing scams.

Simple tips like double-checking email addresses, hyperlinks, and spelling in an email can go a long way in protecting your company and its assets. Investing in employee education is also a great way to help employees learn how to recognize and prevent phishing attacks, and is one of the best ways to protect you from phishing scams. Keep reading to learn some more of our favorite preventative phishing tips!

What is Phishing?

To understand how to prevent phishing attacks on you and your company, you first need to understand what phishing is. Phishing is a cybercrime where individuals or companies are contacted via email, text, or phone call. The criminal tries to trick you into releasing sensitive information—like social security numbers, financial information, and passwords—to steal your identity and create a financial loss.

Types of Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are getting more sophisticated every day. Cybercriminals are finding ways to imitate companies and people you trust to try to gain access to your information. Some of the common types of phishing schemes are:

  • Too Good to be True – These types of phishing scams will claim you won a prize like a new iPhone because you are a website’s millionth visitor.
  • Limited Time Opportunity – Cybercriminals want you to believe that you have to act fast to get their deals so that you’ll click on an infected link quickly without thinking.
  • Unusual Account Activity – This phishing email alerts you that there has been unusual activity, multiple login attempts, or a declined payment on your account, and they prompt you to click a link to review the activity.

Phishing Tips

With cybercriminals using more sophisticated tactics like these phishing schemes (and others), it’s more vital than ever that you learn how to recognize phishing emails and malicious websites. Use these nine phishing tips below to learn how to protect yourself and your company from phishing attacks.

1.      Network Security

You are going to want to use network security software to scan your emails and attachments for potential threats. Make sure this software is updated regularly to ensure the latest prevention techniques are being used on your network. Also, make sure that you update mobile devices on a regular basis for the same reasons. Having reliable network security and updated software ensures most phishing schemes go right to your spam mail, and not to your inbox where it looks like a legitimate email. Check out this post for more tips on getting rid of spam email.

2.      Multi-Factor Identification

When possible, use multi-factor identification. This type of security requires two or more credentials to access an account. For example, you enter your password and then have a passcode sent via text message, phone, or email to access your account. Other examples use biometric markers, like a fingerprint or retina scan. Using multi-factor identification protects you against identity theft because if a cybercriminal obtained your password, they wouldn’t be able to access your account without your second credential.

3.      Back Up Data

The third phishing tip is to back up your data on something off-network. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to back up your data off-site, but one of them is so if a phishing attack is successful against you or your company, you have a back-up of your information that you can use to restore your systems. It’s like an insurance policy. You’ll want to back-up your data just in case something like a phishing attack happens. You might never use it, but you’ll rest easier knowing it’s there if you do need it.

4.      Spelling Mistakes

One common way to spot a phishing attack is to look for spelling mistakes in the email body text, the sender’s email address, the subject line, and when you hover over hyperlinks (but don’t click them!). For example, a company trying to imitate Amazon might spell it Amazn. A legitimate email is going to be spell-checked before sending out to recipients. If you notice spelling mistakes, think twice before believing the content of the message or clicking any links or attachments.

5.      Salutation

The fifth phishing tip to protect you and your company is to look at how the message is addressed to you. Did they use your name or a generic greeting? Most companies are going to use your name in the opening line. They won’t write, “Hey Dear,” when trying to communicate with you about your account. Also, if you’re ever unsure about whether it’s a phishing attack or not, call the company that supposedly sent the email and find out from them if it’s legitimate. It’s better to take a few minutes of your time to confirm whether it’s real or not than to have to clean up the mess that results from a phishing attack.

6.      Don’t Click

One of the biggest tips to learn to prevent phishing scams is to never click a hyperlink or attachment in an email that you aren’t expecting. If your mouse hovers over a hyperlink, you can see the destination address. If the address looks like it might be a malicious website, don’t click on it. Also, don’t click on any unsolicited attachments. Cybercriminals can hide viruses and ransomware that will install on your computer the moment you open the attachment. Don’t click on any of these links or attachments because they could steal sensitive information from you.

7.      Personal Details

Never give out your details in an email. Email is not a secure platform to share personal information like social security numbers or bank account information. Always provide that information over the phone to a trusted source. If someone calls you and claims to be from a company with whom you do business, and they want you to confirm your credit card number or other financial information, don’t give it to them. Instead, hang up with that caller and call the company directly to find out if they need that information. Since you never truly know who is on the other end of the line when they call you or email you, it’s always best to verify that the information is needed and provide it to the correct people.

8.      Different Passwords

Use different passwords. On the off chance that you or your company falls victim to a phishing scam, if you have mixed, complicated passwords for each account or website, the scammer will have a harder time accessing your accounts. Identity theft is a typical result of phishing attacks, but by having different passwords, you may be able to stop the criminal before they get too far into your accounts.

9.      Mock Drills

Finally, your last phishing tip is to do mock drills within your company. Send out a fake phishing email with convincing links to see which of your employees click the link and fall for it. This will ensure that you and your team are educated enough to spot phishing emails.

Invest in Employee Education

When it comes down to it, educating your employees is the best investment you can make to avoid phishing scams that steal your private and financial information. There are so many ways cybercriminals try to convincingly trick you into click on a link that leads to a malicious website. From there, they can access your network, files, and information. If you spot a phishing email, it’s essential to report it to the FTC. Your cybersecurity is important to ACTS360, and we are here to help you securely use the internet to grow your business.

Cybercriminals are trying harder to get access to your personal information, but by educating your staff on what phishing is and how to prevent it, you can help keep phishing attacks at bay. ACTS360 is your trusted provider to help manage your IT needs in the Tampa, Plant City, and Brandon, FL areas. Contact us today to get started and see how we can help you prevent phishing attacks on you and your company.