3 Essentials to Preventing Phishing Attacks

3 Ways to Prevent Phishing Attempts

Concerned about your employees and organization falling victim to a phishing attack? Learn how to ward them off with our list of solutions and prevention tips.  

Phishing attacks can wreak havoc when sensitive data get into the wrong hands. Scammers use phishing techniques primarily through email messages, text messages and phone calls. Most, if not all, employees within your organization will receive a phishing email, text message or phone call. If employees are not aware of the tactics scammers use, they could easily allow unauthorized access to your company’s sensitive data. This could include financial records, names and social security numbers of employees, client’s personal data, intellectual property, and confidential passwords or other information stored on the company’s servers.

Signs of Phishing Attempts

The first essential step in preventing phishing attacks is to educate employees on what to look for in emails and text messages. Many scammers use official logos and email formatting programs to make their emails appear legitimate. However, the FTC lists some common details that phishing emails include or ask about. These details include:

  • A notice about suspicious account activities or attempts to log-in to an account, especially when the email includes a link to update or type in the account’s credentials.
  • A claim that there is a problem with a payment on the account or with the account itself.
  • A request to confirm sensitive account information.
  • An illegitimate invoice, especially for an account the employee does not maintain or has responsibility for.
  • A request to click on a link to submit payment.
  • An offer for free money or other products and services.
  • Notice of eligibility for a government refund.

Prevention Tips

Besides educating employees on what to look for, there are additional steps IT security managers and IT departments can take to protect their organizations. Some of the more common steps IT security managers and systems administrators can take are:

  • Blocking Zip files from being sent and received through email.
  • Automatically deploying security software, along with deploying automatic security software updates.
  • Actively monitoring problems with the security software and immediately deploying technicians to correct problems when they occur.
  • Requiring multi-factor authentication for systems access.
  • Requiring frequent password changes and educating employees on sound password management.
  • Routinely backing up data to an offline location.

Questions to Ask

Employees need to know more than just what a phishing attempt looks like. Educating them on what questions they should ask will help prevent the exchange of sensitive data. Employees should ask whether the message sounds too good to be true. If the request states that they’ve won money or someone needs them to wire money, it is probably illegitimate. Employees should also ask whether they have a legitimate account or are responsible for a legitimate account with the company. If not, it is most likely a scam. If they do, they should verify the message with the company.