In recent years, there’s been a huge explosion in sophisticated social engineering cyberattacks like phishing. One of the main reasons phishing has become such a prevalent and favored form of attack by hackers is its inherent human instinct to trust.
What Is A Phishing Attack?
In a phishing attack, the hacker masquerades as a trusted business or service, normally sending a branded email intended to mimic the design and style of an official business communication. Sometimes, the attacker will go straight for the jugular and request money transfers or username/password credentials; however, a more common tactic is redirecting the user to an infected website, or a spoof site (again with official branding) encourage them to enter their sensitive user data.
Spear phishing takes this process to another level, with the hacker doing extensive research on their victim to find in-depth personal details. For example, with a little research, the hacker could find the email address of a known colleague or similar trusted source and make contact under this guise. This is yet another reason why phishing is so hard to guard against.
The Role Played By Software Developers
When developers build software, they take extensive measures to protect their users by employing source code security, vulnerability testing, and other protective processes. These preventative measures are used to produce both online and offline software to ensure apps will be as safe as possible. However, once an application is released to the outside world, the responsibility of security passes largely to the user to keep themselves safe.
Because phishing is so hard to identify, even if your firm runs the most up-to-date software and virus protection systems, you could still run the risk of falling victim to an attack.
Tips To Help Prevent Phishing Attacks Harming Your Firm
By far, the most important step you can take to protect your company is to ensure your employees are fully educated on the dangers of operating online and the typical signs of a bogus phishing email. These include (but aren’t limited to):
Discrepancies between email display names and addresses: A phishing email normally purports to be coming from a trusted, known source. However, it’s quite easy to check the actual issuing address by simply hovering over the display name and looking for inconsistencies. Very often, simple irregularities are easy to pick up – for example, email@example.com appearing something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fake URLs: In a phishing email, the hacker often attempts to redirect the target to a bogus website to encourage them to part with their user data – or, equally as common, a site infected with malware. Before clicking on any URL links in emails, you should hover over the link to check where it’s actually going to send you and avoid clicking any suspicious links.
Bold requests for sensitive information: Reputable companies will never normally make requests for your username or password by email, so you should avoid it if you receive an email asking for this information.
Other warnings: Avoid clicking suspicious our unexpected attachments and also look for other tell-tale signs like an impersonal greeting (rather than using your name), bad spelling, typos, and the like. You should also be wary of negative consequence statements intended to scare users into handing over sensitive data (e.g., “failure to act will mean a suspension of account”, etc.).