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Phishing Attacks & How To Get Ahead Of Them

Updated: Jan 15

Table of Contents -

  • What Is Phishing?

  • State Of Phishing Attacks Today

  • How To Spot A Probable Phishing Attack

  • Protecting Against Phishing Attacks

  • A Multi-Layered Defense Approach

  • Bottom Line

  • FAQs

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is one of the simplest cyberattack methods for criminals to use, as well as one of the easiest to be duped by. It also has everything necessary for hackers to break into the personal and professional accounts of their targets.

A basic phishing attack seeks to persuade the target into doing what the scammer wants. It is typically conducted over email, though the scam has expanded beyond emails to phone calls (called "vishing"), social media, messaging services (also known as "smishing"), and apps.

Nobody wants to become a victim of phishing fraud. But there's a reason why these scams will keep happening: they're profitable enough for cybercriminals to keep doing them. Phishing attacks have existed almost since the beginning of the Internet and are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Phishing is another common technique used by online criminals to spread malware. By persuading victims to open a file or click on a link, the attackers sneakily install the malicious payload, which could be trojan malware, ransomware, or any number of disruptive and destructive attacks.

A hacker hacking the personal and professional account of targets.
With phishing attacks, hackers can break into the personal and professional accounts of their targets.

State Of Phishing Attacks Today

Phishing is still the second most expensive attack, costing victims' organizations an average of $4.65 million, according to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021. Researchers also discovered that it took an average of 213 days to identify and an additional 80 days to contain any phishing-related breaches. As a result, it takes an average of over 290 days to contain phishing attacks.

The use of office-based devices for personal use and other knowledge gaps are some of the factors contributing to the rise in phishing attacks. These gaps can only be filled by a thorough application of behavioral cybersecurity.

When it comes to guarding against phishing attacks within an organization, employees are the weakest link. They frequently miss dangerous messages that give attackers easy access and jeopardize the integrity of their operations.

According to Proofpoint's State of the Phish report for 2022, 92% of Australian organizations were the target of successful phishing attacks in 2017. Comparing these figures to the prior year, there has been a 53% increase.

Every day, thousands of new phishing websites are launched, and compromised domains host the majority of them. These websites can easily pass a test of the domain reputation while still hosting malicious pages that compromise users' online privacy.

How To Spot A Probable Phishing Attack

Scammers will send you emails or texts to coerce you into divulging your personal information. They might attempt to steal your Social Security number, account information, or passwords. They might be able to access your bank, email, and other accounts if they manage to get that information. Every day, scammers carry out tens of thousands of similar phishing attacks, many of which are successful.

Phishing emails and texts frequently use a narrative to persuade you to click a link or open an attachment. They might -

  • Claim there is a problem with your account or your payment information that requires you to confirm some personal information.

  • Include a fake invoice.

  • Say they have noticed some suspicious activity or login attempts.

  • Tell you that you are eligible to register for a refund.

  • Present a coupon for a free item

Even though scammers frequently change their strategies, there are some telltale signs that can help you spot a phishing email or text message.

Phishing emails and texts can appear to be from businesses you know or trust. They might appear to be from a bank, a credit card provider, a social media platform, a website or app for making online payments, or an online retailer.

Protecting Against Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are clearly here to stay. However, there are some steps that businesses can take to lessen their exposure to phishing attacks:

  • As soon as possible, change your passwords, and turn on multi-factor authentication for all of your email accounts.

  • Don't answer every email you get. Limit who has access to your data, and only let a select group of people you trust use it for work.

  • Your staff should receive training on phishing and how to spot malicious messages.

  • If you are unsure whether an email is spam or requests your login information, check it again.

  • Don't overlook the email's minor details, like the email logo. To confirm the validity of an email.

  • If you get an email with urgent requests, be aware that it's probably a phishing scam. Don't take the email's urgency at face value; instead, analyze it.

  • Before you click on any link for downloading, take your time and consider your options.

  • Pop-up windows are now being used by phishers to conduct online phishing scams. Make sure not to disclose your information on pop-up screens.

A Multi-Layered Defense Approach

Users' ability to recognize phishing emails is frequently the only factor in typical defenses against phishing. This strategy will only be partially successful. You should instead broaden your defenses to include more technical safeguards. This will increase your resistance to phishing attacks without interfering with your users' ability to work effectively.

There will be numerous opportunities for you to recognize a phishing attack and put a stop to it before it causes damage. In order to prepare for incidents and lessen the harm done, you also accept that some attacks will succeed.

If your organization needs a multi-layered defense approach against phishing attacks, you can get it implemented through a cybersecurity specialist such as iBovi Cybersecurity and -

  • Ensure it's challenging for attackers to access your users.

  • Assist your users in recognizing and reporting phishing emails.

  • Defend your business against the effects of phishing emails that go undetected.

  • Immediately address incidents.

  • In the context of your organization, some of the suggested mitigations might not be practical. Try to address at least some of the mitigations from within each of the layers if you can't implement them all.

Bottom Line

One of the biggest online threats to businesses is phishing. A phishing attack affected more than 80% of organizations last year, according to Proofpoint's 2021 State of the Phish Report. One of the most frustrating aspects of this is that even though most people are aware of what phishing is and how it operates, many people still fall victim to it.

That has been made possible by how clever phishing scams are getting. Although they may still be trying to steal our personal information or infect our devices, there is now a tonne of ways to do so. Online phishing attacks are unquestionably on the rise and costing people and companies a lot of money. All we can do in light of the shifting security environment is develop and adhere to a solid strategy to combat online phishing scams. The methods listed above are some of the most effective ways to prevent phishing attacks. Follow them and keep yourself safe.


What do phishing attacks cost?

The total cost of the fraud caused by phishing attacks is difficult to estimate, but the FBI estimates that the impact of these scams may cost US businesses $5 billion annually, with thousands of businesses falling victim to them.

What variations of phishing attacks exist?

Even though phishing attacks still primarily target email, the world has changed significantly since phishing first appeared. Because of mobile devices, social media, and other platforms, attackers now have access to a wider range of attacks than just email.

How to respond to a phishing attack

In the event that you receive an email or text asking you to open an attachment or click on a link, ask yourself - Do I know the sender or have an account with the business? If not, it might be a phishing scam. Report the message and then delete it if you see them. If yes, get in touch with the business at a number or website you are confident is legitimate. not the details contained in the email. Links and attachments may download malicious software.

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