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Protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks remain a major concern for businesses worldwide, they are the main delivery method for all types of cyberattacks. In 2020, 75% of companies experienced at least one phishing attack. 

These attacks can have devastating consequences for a business, ranging from data breaches to ransomware attacks. Businesses must remain vigilant in their efforts to protect themselves from any kind of Cyber Attack. 

Phishing is an attack that uses fraudulent emails and usually websites to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or infecting their devices with malware.

Mobile threats have increased dramatically in recent years, with a 161% increase in 2021 alone.

Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from this type of attack:

  • Use email filtering to screen out suspicious messages.
  • Use DNS filtering to block malicious websites.
  • Use next-generation antivirus and anti-malware software.
  • Stay up to date on cybersecurity trends and educate yourself on how to spot phishing attempts.

PHISHING VIA TEXT MESSAGE

A greater number of people are less suspicious of text messages than emails.

Although smishing attacks are increasing, cybercrime entities are still taking advantage of the easy availability of phone numbers. By using text messages to deploy phishing attacks, they are able to target a larger audience.

A popular phishing campaign in 2022 is via text messages. More people are now used to receiving text messages than in the past, especially from retailers and service businesses. They push text updates for sales and delivery notices, which has enabled people’s guard to be lowered. 

The goal of the attack is to capture personal data, when a user clicks on a link included within a text message.  The link within the message will redirect the user to a genuine looking website.

The website you’re redirected to will look official and contain a contact form. Once you submit your personal details to the contact form. The hackers have your credentials. 

EMAIL COMPROMISE IS ON THE RISE

Ransomware has become a bigger threat in recent years because it’s a lucrative source of income for criminal groups that launch cyberattacks. A new, up-and-coming form of attack is also becoming quite profitable, and so is growing in popularity.

(Business email compromise – BEC) scams are also on the rise and costing businesses millions each year. These scams typically involve attackers posing as staff members in an attempt to trick employees into making Bank Transfer requests or gift card purchases.

The danger of BEC is when criminals gain access to email accounts, they have the ability to send phishing messages that appear very convincing to employees, customers, and vendors. 

Potential victims in most cases will automatically trust the known email address, making these emails highly effective tools for cybercriminals.

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BECOMING MORE FREQUENT TARGETS OF SPEAR PHISHING

No business is too small to be targeted by hackers. Many small businesses are targeted because they often have less sophisticated IT security systems than larger companies.

Spear phishing is a more dangerous form of attack because it’s targeted. A spear phishing attack using BEC is tailored to the specific individual or organization being targeted.

Spear-phishing used to be more commonly used against larger companies, as it takes considerably longer to set up a targeted and tailored attack. However, large criminal groups and government-assisted hackers have made their attacks more efficient, they are now able to target most businesses with ease. 

Small businesses are becoming targeted more frequently by these types of attacks that are more difficult for their users to identify as scams.

MORE BUSINESSES ARE BEING IMPERSONATED RECENTLY

Attackers have become increasingly skilful at impersonating businesses in order to dupe users into clicking on malicious links or attachments. The most popular method is, sending emails that appear to come from legitimate companies that the user may be familiar with.

Amazon is a common target for business spoofing, but it also happens to smaller companies. There have been examples of website hosting companies having client lists breached, and the cybercriminals have then sent emails impersonating the hosting company. 

The emails asked users to log in to an account to fix an urgent problem.

IS YOUR COMPANY’S DATA PROTECTED FROM THIS STYLE OF ATTACK?

When it comes to protecting your business, it’s important to use a multi-layered approach. Start with a cybersecurity audit to review your current security measures and identify ways to improve.

We’ve done this for numerous companies within Staffordshire, please get in touch with us today to find out how we can help. 

Call us today on 01543 889 444 to see how we can protect your business.


Has Your Email Been Hijacked?

A common complaint by many users in recent months has been spam emails appearing to come from their own accounts. Despite not knowing why, reports of friends, family, and contacts receiving spam email that appears to come from them has worried many people.

Some have had their accounts suspended or shut down by their service providers as a result. For many, this experience can be highly disruptive. It’s a problem that can cause many issues in both your professional and personal life.

The key to defense is learning how these attacks happen, and figuring out what you can do to protect yourself and your contacts against them.

 

Email security Staffordshire

Hackers Using Your Email Against You

Scammers that send out spam messages are continually looking for ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and more efficient. It’s the best way in which they can make more money every day by scamming unsuspecting victims for even more cash.

One of the most efficient ways they do this is by hijacking ready-made, trusted email accounts like your own. Hackers have several tools at their disposal to attempt to hijack your accounts.

Some of the principles which make email fast and easy to use means that details, such as those in the ‘from’ field, are easy to fake. A hacker might change the information supplied to make it appear as if the email comes from anyone.

There’s not much you can do to defend your email against such an attack. However, you can work to verify that an email, even one you expect to receive, does come from the person you believe it to. If your email provider flags up an incoming email as ‘suspicious’, or ‘untrustworthy’, it may well be.

Stolen Credentials

Hackers often buy large bundles of email addresses and passwords from the dark web. Leaked emails are often put up for sale following hacks of major companies and service providers.

The value of these details comes from passwords being unlikely to have been changed, the details attached to them are trusted, and often get hackers access to additional services too.

How To Detect an Email Intrusion

It can take a long time before you’re aware that malicious hackers are using your details. You might even be the last person in your contacts to know.

The first sign to look out for is a large number of unexpected emails in your inbox. These are likely to be replies to emails you never sent in the first place. Out of office, automatic responses, people complaining about spam, and people responding to the email as if it were genuine may all come to you first.

Keep a close eye on unexpected emails appearing suddenly in either your inbox or outbox. A hacker may be spear-phishing someone that you do business with or trust. By acting as you, using your address and details, they may be able to divert payments or confidential information to their accounts instead.

Protecting Yourself Against Hackers, Attackers, And Hijackers

Sometimes your computer might have been compromised to give hackers access to your services. Malicious software may have infected your machine to steal data and infect your contacts.

Take extra care to change your passwords if you believe your email has been accessed by hacker. Use a different, more secure password for your email than you do for every other service. Your email account is often the key to accessing many of the services you use most.

Run a virus scan and maintain security updates if you think your computer could have been infected. Have your machine and services looked at by a professional if you believe there is a risk your data is being used.

If you think your email could have been hijacked, or your details used elsewhere, give us a call at 01543 889 444 to clean up today.


Don’t Get Hooked by Spear Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks have been around for a long time in IT. Designed to steal your credentials or trick you into installing malicious software, they have persisted in the IT world precisely because they have been so devastatingly simple and effective. Today, a more modern and more effective version of the same attack is commonly used.

 

Email Phishing Attacks

A typical phishing attack involves an attacker sending out a malicious email to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users. The attacker’s email is designed to look like it comes from a bank, financial service, or even the tax office. Often aiming to trick you into logging in to a fake online service, a phishing attack captures the login details you enter so an attacker may use them to enter the genuine service later.

By sending out tens of thousands of emails at a time, attackers can guarantee that even if only one half of one percent of people fall for it, there is a lot of profit to be made by draining accounts. Spear phishing is a more modern, more sophisticated, and far more dangerous form of the attack. It’s typically targeted at businesses and their staff.

A Convincing, Dangerous Attack

While a traditional phishing attack throws out a broad net in the hope of capturing as many credentials as possible, spear phishing is targeted and precise. The attack is aimed towards convincing a single business, department, or individual that a fraudulent email or website is genuine.

The attacker focuses on building a relationship and establishing trust with the target. By building trust and convincing the target that they are who they are pretending to be, the user is more likely to open attachments, follow links, or provide sensitive details.

Consider how many times you have followed a link or opened an attachment just because it has come from a contact you have trusted before.

A Trusted E-mail

The malicious email can appear to come from a vendor you deal with regularly. It may even look like an invoice you are expecting to receive. Often attackers can simply substitute the vendors’ banking details for their own, hoping the target will not notice the difference.

Such an attack is very difficult to detect. It takes a keen eye, strong working knowledge, and constant awareness to keep your company protected. Even a single small mistake by an unaware member of staff can compromise your business accounts.

Defending Your Business

The key to stopping a spear phishing attack is education. Learning attack techniques, and how to protect against them is the single biggest thing you can do to enhance business security.

Whenever you deal with a vendor in a business transaction, you should always consider important questions before proceeding. Are you expecting this email? Is the vendor attempting to rush you into a quick decision or transaction? Have you checked all the details are correct and as you expected? Sometimes a simple query to the vendor can protect you against worst-case scenarios.

In many cases, a phishing attack can be halted in its tracks with a strong IT security package. Web filtering prevents malicious emails and links from entering the network, shutting attacks down before any damage can be done.

Good Security Practice

As with many types of IT threat, good security practices help mitigate damage. Locking down security to ensure employees only access the systems they need helps to prevent damage spreading across the network.

Enforcing unique and strong passwords prevents leaked credentials from affecting systems related to the one that has been compromised. Getting employees set up with a password manager and good security policies can do the world of good to boost your security to the level it needs to be.

Give us a call at 01543 889 444 to audit your security practices. It could be the difference that secures your business against sophisticated spear phishing attacks.


Why You Should Use a Professional Email Address for Your Business

Many people, customers and suppliers, use email to communicate with you and your business. But what does your email address say about your company?

 

Professional Email Services

Imagine if banks used a free email address provider, such as Hotmail, Gmail, Sky or BT. Would you feel comfortable about giving them your personal details let alone any money? That’s how your customers see you and your business, it’ll put your credibility in question and could affect whether they do business with you.

A Free Email Address is Forgettable

What rolls off the tongue better, johnsplumbing_1985@hotmail.co.uk or info@johnsplumbing.co.uk? Not only does the info@johnsplumbing.co.uk email address roll off the tongue a lot better than the Hotmail.co.uk address, but it looks more professional.

Now imagine you see the Hotmail.co.uk email on the side of a van, you are more likely to forget it by the time you get back in front of your computer. Whereas the johnsplumbing.co.uk is easy to remember.

A Free Email Address is not Safe

When you use a free email address provider, you are literally at the mercy of them. If they decide to stop providing an email service or close down your account, you cannot communicate via email to your customers or suppliers. You also have to inform people of your new email address, reprint company literature and update your website. How much time and money would this cost you?

Also, free email accounts are often hacked and leaked on a daily basis. You literally have no control over the security on your account. If you are hacked, you are at the mercy of the provider to resolve it quickly.

By using a professional email address, you have complete control over it. You can reset passwords, create new addresses at will and define the security policies.

A Professional Email Address isn’t as Expensive as you Think

A professional email address is relatively cheap. In fact, towards the end of last year, we quoted a customer for a new email address using their own domain and Office 365 email. They come back to us asking if the price was correct as it was a lot cheaper than they thought.

If you are using a free email address in your business, give us a call on 01543 889 444 and we’ll set you up a professional looking email address and also manage it for you.


5 Red Flags of Phishing Emails: Think Before You Click

A single click can be the difference between maintaining data security and suffering massive financial losses. From the moment just one employee takes the bait in a phishing email, your business is vulnerable to data breaches and extensive downtime.

Quickly spot the red flags and put phishing emails where they belong:

1. Poor spelling and grammar While occasional typos happen to even the best of us, an email filled with errors is a clear warning sign. Most companies push their campaigns through multiple review stages where errors are blitzed and language is refined. Unlikely errors throughout the entire message indicate that the same level of care was not taken, and therefore the message is likely fraudulent.

2. An offer too good to be true Free items or a lottery win sure sound great, but when the offer comes out of nowhere and with no catch? There’s definitely cause for concern. Take care not to get carried away and click without investigating deeper.

3. Random sender who knows too much Phishing has advanced in recent years to include ‘spear phishing’, which is an email or offer designed especially for your business. Culprits take details from your public channels, such as a recent function or award, and then use it against you. The only clues? The sender is unknown – they weren’t at the event or involved in any way. Take a moment to see if their story checks out.

4. The URL or email address is not quite right One of the most effective techniques used in phishing emails is to use domains which sound almost right. For example, [microsoft.info.com] or [pay-pal.com] Hover over the link with your mouse and review where it will take you. If it doesn’t look right, or is completely different from the link text, send that email to the bin.

5. It asks for personal, financial or business details Alarm bells should ring when a message contains a request for personal, business or financial information. If you believe there may be a genuine issue, you can initiate a check using established, trusted channels.

While education is the best way to ensure phishing emails are unsuccessful, a robust spam filter and solid anti-virus system provide peace of mind that your business has the best protection available.

Give us a call to discuss how we can secure your system against costly phishing attacks 01543 899 444 or fill in the form below

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