If you’ve followed high-profile cases of cybercrime over the past few years, you’ve likely heard of email phishing and its potentially devastating effects. Today, nearly 1 percent of all emails are part of various phishing scams. Here’s what you need to know about this common type of cybercrime and how you can protect your business from the newest phishing tactics.

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack in which the attacker uses email to encourage targets to click through a link or download an attachment. These emails are made to look as if they are sent by legitimate institutions, such as a target’s bank or a legitimate business. The goal of phishing is to get the target to provide sensitive information or download a piece of malware.

Newest Phishing Tactics to Remain Alert For

Fooling Email Filters With Legitimate Links

Due to how common phishing attacks have become, most email providers have put filters in place to weed out malicious emails before they reach users. One of the newest phishing tactics designed to circumvent these filters is the use of legitimate links or contact information to make the email appear less suspicious. Emails that contain legitimate information are less likely to be caught by spam filters and could be harder for workers to identify as fraudulent.

Targeting Executives

Another emerging trend in phishing is the so-called “whaling” approach, in which attackers target senior management and executives. Often, attackers will design emails that appear to be from a trusted business entity, such as a supplier or vendor the executive does legitimate business with.

Highly Targeted Campaigns Against Small Businesses

Over the last few years, hackers have placed much more focus on targeting small businesses with phishing campaigns. Smaller businesses often have fewer safeguards in place against data breaches than large, enterprise-scale corporations. This makes it relatively simple for a malicious actor to research individual employees as targets, create emails explicitly designed for those targets, and conduct a successful phishing attack. These efforts are often paired with ransomware attacks, forcing the targeted companies to pay attackers large sums of money or risk going out of business altogether.

Phishing Attacks Related to Current Events

One of the most concerning trends in the cybersecurity world is the rise of event-driven phishing emails. Emails that seem to be related to the COVID-19 pandemic or other current events are ideal tools for cybercriminals. The high emotion that surrounds these topics can cause recipients to open the emails and click through malicious links, even if they would otherwise be much more cautious. Curious readers naturally follow links contained in the emails, potentially exposing themselves and their organizations in the process.

How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks 

Even when faced with these newest phishing tactics, your best defense is basic awareness and education among your workers. If your employees know how to identify phishing emails, they’ll be much less likely to fall for them. Training employees to carefully examine attachments and search for telltale signs of phishing in their emails is a good way to screen out the majority of potential attacks.

You can also use technological tools to keep your organization safe. Email filters, antivirus software, and virtual private networks (VPNs) can protect your organization from potential threats. With that said, don’t become too complacent or reliant on these tools. As mentioned above, malicious actors have already changed their tactics to fool basic email filters. Using protective technologies while remaining vigilant and keeping your workers alert to possible threats will give you the best possible protection.

If your business doesn’t already have robust cybersecurity practices in place, a trusted managed services provider (MSP) can help you protect yourself from phishing and other forms of cybercrime. MSPs can set up email filters and threat monitoring systems designed to prevent successful phishing. They can also manage data backups to prevent losses in the event of a successful attack.

Contact us today to learn more about keeping your business safe.