Phishing is a form of cyber attack that has been around for some time. Generally, appearing in email format, hackers can use phishing to disguise themselves as a trusted source to acquire sensitive information from users. These users may click on what appears to be an authentic link or file and infect their computer with malware, spyware, ransomware, bots, viruses, and more. In the past, phishing was widespread, with hackers aiming for quantity instead of quality with their attacks. Over time, these attacks became more sophisticated, appearing more legitimate and disguised as commonly trusted sources such as banks and companies, rather than from strangers seeking to distribute their family fortune. Spear phishing is a step up from this – with hackers utilising a sophisticated, trusted disguise but operating in a significantly more targeted manner. These messages usually contain personal information and are difficult to identify as malicious. They are also more sinister in nature, with hackers using spear phishing to obtain specific sets of information – such as access to corporate files.
What businesses need to know
The threat of spear phishing can be monumental for a company, with data breaches costing millions in costs and fines, not to mention the potential damage to a business’s reputation. One single attack could put an entire company at risk, and successful attacks often go unnoticed – increasing the potential for continued losses. Any personal information that exists online can be used as bait for spear phishing attacks. The more authentic the threat appears the more likely a user is to enter their information, click on a link, or open a file. Attackers will research their targets, utilising social media to create a trustworthy profile. This may take the form of a bank the user frequents, or the name of a colleague, or even an address from a former place of employment. Spear phishing attacks rely on the appearance of validity and will build their messages around this. Instead of targeting multiple sources, they will hone in on one or two – usually people with high levels of company access.
Protecting against Phishing
It is difficult for companies to avoid phishing attacks entirely, but some steps can be taken to reduce their risk. These include:
- Utilising web filtering to obtain visibility and control of content on and off corporate networks
- Ensure that users only have access to the files they need. Understand who has access to what, whether that access is relevant, and authenticate appropriate administrative controls.
- Apply email security solutions and threat protection that can detect potentially fraudulent emails and links, and block them before they impact the company
- Educate employees on how to identify phishing attacks, as well as what to do if they discover a breach within the system. A robust security strategy will help companies reduce their risk – and reduce the impact of a threat once it occurs.
If you want to learn more about the types of threats that might affect your company in a modern market, contact MOQdigital today. We can help you understand your risk – and do something about it. Our experienced team utilises Cisco products to deliver exceptional security, ensuring that our customers have tailored risk reduction solutions that meet their needs both now and in the future. Secure your digital investments.
Not quite sure where to start on your security journey?
MOQdigital can help with our Umbrella Proof of Value.