“A single spear-phishing email carrying a slightly altered malware can bypass multi-million dollar enterprise security solutions if an adversary deceives a cyber-hygienically apathetic employee into opening the attachment or clicking a malicious link and thereby compromising the entire network.”
― James Scott, Senior Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology
Phishing is one of the most effective types of cyber threats. With the frequency at which it continues to trap people, it seems likely that more people need awareness about it to save themselves and their organizations.
According to a study in 2020, 58% of businesses oversaw the rise of phishing attacks in a period spanning 12 months. Meanwhile, Verizon’s report disclosed that social engineering attacks like phishing make up more than two thirds of data breaches.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a form of cyber threat where cybercriminals masquerade as someone else to deceive their target, tempting them into taking a certain action. For instance, a hacker can send a phishing email by pretending to be a bank and ask for personal information. In response, the user might trust them without reviewing the email contents properly and sends their information. The hacker can then use those details to commit identity theft, sell it on the dark web, or indulge in any other crime.
Email phishing is akin to a game of numbers. The cybercriminal group sends out thousands of fake messages to gather valuable information. Even if only a few recipients are tricked, it still nets plenty of money.
How to Spot a Phishing Email?
Cybercriminals often undo their own plans by making certain mistakes, especially when they are new to the hacking landscape. Here is how to spot a phishing email.
1. It Is Poorly Written
It is quite surprising to realize how you can recognize a phishing email by reading the poor language used in the email body. Go through the entire email and look for grammatical and spelling errors, especially the strange uses of phrases. When legitimate organizations send emails, those are written and edited by a professional team of copywriters and editors. Therefore, if you get an email from an organization that is filled with several errors, it can be a phishing attempt. Some experts believe that the poor use of language is often a deliberate tactic: to deceive the most gullible targets.
2. It Is Sent from a Public Email Domain
No legitimate business will send emails from “@gmail.com”. Most have their own email domain and company accounts.
If the domain name (the text after the @ symbol) matches the apparent email’s sender, the message is likely to be legitimate. The best strategy to identify an organization’s domain name is to enter the company name into a search engine and compare the results.
3. It Contains An Odd or Unfamiliar Attachment
Often, hackers incorporate malware into phishing emails, so it can take control of the victim’s PC. That is why you should always take a look at email attachments.
There is no cause for concern if the sender’s email address is genuine or if you were expected to receive the email. However, if the email is unsolicited, then something can be amiss.
4. It Creates a Sense of Urgency
One of the primary elements of any scam is that the victim is directed to act before it gets too late. Fraudsters always rely on this shady technique to manipulate their victims and force them into taking action. This prevents them from thinking through the process and they overlook the red flags.
For example, a phishing email can scare you by notifying that someone used your account and ask you to reset the password.
Similarly, criminals also attempt to arouse the curiosity of their victims by claiming that an offer is available for a limited period. Again, the idea is to ensure that the victims cannot think rationally.
Hence, you should bear in mind that regardless of how urgent an email appears to be, make it a habit to take your time and read it fully. Then, think about whether the request is a genuine one.
5. It Comes with the Wrong Logo
To improve the authenticity of their emails, hackers steal the logos of prominent websites or corporations. Mostly, they don’t steal corporate logos properly. This stolen logo has a low resolution or the wrong aspect ratio. Therefore, if you have to squint to make sense of a logo, perhaps it is a phishing email.
6. It Has a Misleading Domain Name
A typical user does not know how the DNS naming structure works. This makes them vulnerable. These non-tech-savvy users are tricked when a cybercriminal masquerades as a legitimate company through their URL. Standard DNS naming convention is ChildDomain.FullDomain.com. For instance, info.GenuineCompany.com. This link will take the users to the information page of the Genuine Company’s website.
A phisher would structure this URL differently, i.e. they change the order of the genuine business name. For example, GenuineCompany.com.MaliciousDomain.com. When an average user sees this, they will trust the legitimate business name in the URL and click the link.
It does not matter whether you have installed the most powerful security solution. It takes only one untrained employee to get tricked by a phishing email and put your organization in jeopardy. You must ensure that your employees know how phishing works and can spot the telltale signs of phishing.
To address the phishing threat, businesses must offer regular awareness training for their staff.
If you are looking for this form of training, reach out to us for IT consulting in Dallas. We will make sure to teach good habits to your employees so that they can identify malicious threats. In addition, we will also ramp up your cybersecurity infrastructure to ensure it can withstand contemporary and sophisticated cyber threats.
Talk to Vitreous about ways we can help safe guard your company against Phishing Emails. Contact Us today.