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3 Fundamentals for Shoring Up Phishing Defenses

Oct 27, 2021
Posted by: Stearns Bank

The cybersecurity space is as turbulent and unpredictable as ever. However, for all the emerging threats and news that appear, phishing -- one of the oldest pain points in cybersecurity -- is continuing to quietly wreak havoc and is as big of a threat as ever.

Despite often being overlooked, phishing has been a mainstay in the cybersecurity threat landscape for decades. In fact, 43 percent of cyberattacks in 2020 featured phishing or pre-texting, while 74 percent of US organizations experienced a successful phishing attack last year alone. That means that phishing is one of the most dangerous “action varieties” to an organization’s cybersecurity health. As a result, the need for proper anti-phishing hygiene and best practices is an absolute must.

With that in mind, here are a few quick best practices and tips for dealing with phishing threats.

Know the Red Flags

Phishes are masters of making their content and interactions appealing. From content design to language, it can be difficult to discern whether content is genuine or a potential threat, which is why it is so important to know the red flags.

Awkward and unusual formatting, overly-explicit call outs to click a hyperlink or open an attachment and subject lines that create a sense of urgency are all hallmarks that the content you received potentially could be from phish and should be handled with caution.

Verify the Source

Phishing content comes in a variety of ways. However, many phishes will try to impersonate someone you already know -- such as a colleague, service provider or friend -- to trick you into believing their malicious content is trustworthy. Don’t fall for it.

If you sense any red flags that something may be out of place or unusual, reach out directly to the individual to confirm whether the content is authentic and safe. If not, break off communication immediately and flag the incident through the proper channels.

Be Aware of Vishing & Other Phishing Offshoots

As more digital natives have come online, and greater awareness has been spread about phishing, bad actors have begun to diversify their phishing efforts beyond traditional email.

For example, voice phishing - or vishing - has become a primary alternative for bad actors looking to gain sensitive information from unsuspecting individuals. Like conventional phishing, vishing is typically executed by individuals posing as a legitimate organization -- such as a healthcare provider or insurer -- and asking for sensitive information.

Individuals should be wary of any communication that asks for personal information whether it be via email, phone or chat -- especially if the communication is unexpected. If anything seems suspicious, break-off the interaction immediately and contact the company directly to confirm the veracity of the communications.

Phishing may be “one of the oldest tricks in the book,” but it is still effective. And although it may be hard to spot, by exercising caution and deploying these few fundamentals, individuals and organizations can drastically mitigate the chances of falling victim to a phishing attack.

Week 2_ Fight the Phish3