What is Phishing and How to Keep a Network Safe

What is Phishing and How to Keep a Network Safe

The history of hacking goes back much further than most people suspect. In 1878 , Bell Telephone fired two teenage operators for disconnecting and redirecting calls to see how the technology worked. Some 103 years later, Ian Murphy – better known as Captain Zap – became the first convicted hacker. By the 2000s, hacking had gained a much more negative connotation as tactics methods of social engineering, such as phishing, allowed hackers to enter systems without the use of brute force.

Phishing is a hacker’s tactic which has gained notoriety since its creation in 1995. Today, it’s one of the biggest threats to corporate offices and small businesses alike. Cybercriminals are developing ever cleverer ways to trick employees into handing over credentials to access sensitive data, making it a difficult threat to counter.

Understanding phishing is the first step to devising a strategy to thwart its attempt. Read on to discover what phishing is and how to keep a network safe against it.

Phishing Explained

Phishing is a type of cyberattack which attempts to trick a person into handing over their login credentials to a company, service, or network. Typically, these attacks come in the form of a carefully disguised email. A cybercriminal crafts this email then sends it to a target who is known to use the service or network he or she is attempting to access.

What makes phishing so pernicious is that hackers typically have a strong familiarity with the service (and often the target) they’re attempting to trick. Rarely random, phishing relies on a level of social engineering not seen in other types of hacking attempts. Cybercriminals rely on this to slip past a user’s guard. Then, phishing emails often use the same design, format, and language as legitimate communications from a service. As a result, phishing emails can be incredibly difficult to spot.

Phishing is also particularly dangerous because of the popularity of mobile devices. In 2019, marketers estimate that 46 percent of all emails are opened on a mobile device like a smartphone. On such small screens, it’s more difficult to spot the telltale signs of a phishing attack. Together, these features combine to create a dangerous tactic which proves effective against inattentive employees.

Safety Tips to Avoid Getting Phished

Attentiveness when dealing with emails comprises the first line of defense against phishing attacks. To avoid getting phished, learn how to spot phishing emails, and make sure that employees are trained on these skills as well. These skills include:

1. Identifying URLs

Phishing attempts often rely on cloaked or very similar URLs which trick users into thinking that they’re going to the legitimate site. Train employees to pay attention to things like clever misspellings, or URL redirects which are masked by buttons or other links.

2. Understanding Communication Procedures

Make sure that the company has clearly defined communication procedures which include how, when, and why the company may send an email. Likewise, provide a list of login URLs for critical business processes and establish a policy of never asking employees to login to a service via an email.

Companies which rely heavily on cloud-based services like Salesforce or Amazon Web Services should consider establishing procedures for employees to confirm if an email they’ve received is legitimate. Encourage employees to contact IT if they suspect that an email is a phishing attempt – it not only helps employees avoid a cyber-attack but allows the IT department to create a catalog of attempts for deeper analysis.

3. Maintaining Security of Contact Info

Establish a policy which helps employees protect their private information. Encourage them not to list their work email, phone number, or other confidential information publicly on social media. This makes it harder for a cybercriminal to conduct a phishing attempt against them.

Prevent a Breach with Managed Network Services

Even when practicing the utmost diligence, it’s still possible for cybercriminals to sneak past security. That’s why many businesses today leverage managed IT and managed network services. These are third-party professionals who specialize in keeping networks secure and operational at all times. Managed network services can help prevent a breach due to phishing through:

  • 24/7 monitoring for unusual network activity.
  • Optimized security measures for email and host exchange servers.
  • Mobile security for company-issued devices.
  • Improved user authentication and access policies.
  • IT architecture solutions to protect data even if the network is compromised.

A managed network service provider is a smart choice when it comes to combatting phishing threats. With improved security, a business can stop a threat before it ever reaches a user’s inbox.

Smile Improves Business Security

Phishing remains a severe and damaging threat in the realm of cybersecurity. By tricking employees into handing over login credential, it’s harder to spot when an account has been compromised, or data has been stolen. That’s why every business should strongly consider deploying the expertise of a managed service provider. Data is valuable, and it deserves to remain safe.

Improve data security today and protect against phishing threats with a managed network service provider. Smile is thrilled to provide your company with the next generation of cybersecurity. Contact us today to get started.

 

 

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