Cybersecurity 101: Be Alert to Phishing Scams

It’s important for any business to be alert to the biggest cybersecurity threats they face—but something that might surprise you is just how many of these threats stem from simple user error. Research shows that more than 90 percent of all cyberattacks happen because team members do something they shouldn’t—like opening an attachment from an unknown sender, or clicking on a suspicious link.

What this means is that, by informing your employees about the major cybersecurity issues they face, you can effectively protect your company from most online threats. A good place to begin is with educating your staff about the looming threat of phishing scams.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is by far the most common form of online scam. While phishing can manifest in different ways, it always boils down to this: An unknown email sender tries to trick you into revealing valuable, personal information—such as your Social Security number, your online banking information, or sensitive data related to an online account.

What makes these attacks so persuasive is that they are often disguised to look like they come from trusted senders—like PayPal, Microsoft, Apple, or Dropbox. Sometimes, phishing emails may even be set up to look like they are coming from your bank!

If any member of your team falls prey to a phishing scam, it imperils your entire network. The good news is, phishing scams are usually easy to spot and to avoid—assuming you know what you’re looking for. That’s what makes it so urgent to train your team members on how to recognize phishing attempts.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam

First, fill in your staff on some of the red flags that tend to identify phishing scams. Five of the most common red flags are:

  • The email comes with an attachment that you were not expecting.
  • The email includes links that lead you to unfamiliar sites (by hovering the cursor over the link, you can tell where it leads without having to open it).
  • The sender doesn’t address you by your name.
  • The sender asks for personal information, like your banking password or Social Security number. Remember that reputable companies like Microsoft or PayPal tend not to ask for such things over email!
  • The email comes with a lot of obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. Again, big companies like Apple tend not to make errors like that.

How to Stay Safe Against Phishing Scams

In addition to showing your employees how they can identify phishing scams, also provide them some tips on protecting themselves against these cyberattacks. A few tips include:

  • Never click on links or attachments that you can’t verify or that seem sketchy in any way.
  • Call to confirm the email; for example, if the message says it’s from your bank, call the bank and ask them.
  • If you ever have any doubts about whether or not the email is an attempt at phishing, call your IT team and ask them to check it out!

Again, phishing scams are incredibly common, and they can be pretty sneaky—but if you know what you’re looking for, they are usually pretty easy to avoid.

That’s why it’s well worthwhile to provide some basic cyber awareness training to your team—and there is no better place to start than with some basic points about phishing. If you have any additional questions or want to ask us about training resources, reach out to us today. Salient Networks is here to help you with any of your business technology needs.