Phishing is a way for hackers to gain protected information, tricking people into giving away bank credentials, social security numbers, passwords, and more. That’s why phishing emails are considered a main vehicle for identity theft. They look legitimate, and most people don’t realize it’s a scam until it’s too late. Phishing can be categorized in two different ways:

When it comes to phishing, the user is both the strongest defense and the weakest link. Hardware and software can only go so far to protect your systems, but if the user is knowledgeable, phishing can be more preventable.

Best Practices

Everyone receives phishing emails, so protecting yourself from an attack is important. Follow these best practices to reduce your chances of falling for a phishing scam.

•   Keep phishing training up to date. Take phishing training to familiarize yourself with threats. Educated users are harder to trick.

•   Don’t click on any suspicious emails. If you’re not expecting an email—don’t click! Instead check with the individual it came from (e.g. contact them on the phone or send them an instant message) and confirm the request before sending personal information. If the email is from a bank or another organization, navigate to their website in a separate browser to make sure you are going to the correct domain.

•   Take the time to look at the details. Phishing scams are so detrimental because if you miss one simple spelling error or don’t check a link, you could be in trouble. Most scams come from places you would normally trust, causing you to fill in the information without thinking about it. This is how cyber criminals prey on your trust.

•   Keep your information compartmentalized within your organization. If your employees don’t need information to complete their job, don’t give them access to it. Running your business on a less privileged basis will help minimize the chances of leaking confidential information.

Avoiding phishing scams from happening is no easy task. The best thing you can do for your staff is to educate them. If you educate them, they will be more likely to take the necessary precautions when they receive a suspicious email, and that will save you time and money in the end.

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