Phishing is a form of cyber attack in which attackers masquerade as trustworthy entities to steal sensitive data such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers. Due to its effectiveness and low cost, phishing remains a popular attack vector. Many times the phishing attempt will include the scammer(s) constructing a website and emails that look identical to another to gain your trust (often used with banks). Here, we’ll dive deep into understanding the measures to defend against phishing attacks.
Defend against Phishing Attacks
- Educate and Train Your Team - Regular Training Sessions: Hold periodic training sessions to teach staff how to recognize phishing emails. - Simulated Phishing Campaigns: Employ services or tools that simulate phishing attacks to test your employees’ awareness.
- Keep Software Updated - Patch Regularly: Ensure all systems, particularly email clients and web browsers, are regularly updated. - Use Modern Browsers: Modern browsers have improved phishing and malware protection mechanisms.
- Deploy Advanced Email Filtering - SPF, DKIM, and DMARC: Use these technologies to validate the authenticity of received emails. They can help detect email spoofing. - Filter Malicious Attachments: Block emails containing file types that are commonly used for malware (e.g., .exe, .scr).
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Even if attackers get user credentials, MFA can prevent unauthorized access. Implement MFA wherever possible, especially for critical systems.
- Regular Backups Make regular backups of essential data. If a malicious link results in ransomware, having an up-to-date backup can save the day.
- Install Anti-Phishing Toolbars Several browsers offer anti-phishing toolbars. These scan the sites you visit and compare them to lists of known phishing sites.
- Protect Against Malicious Websites - Blacklists: Use services that maintain blacklists of known malicious sites. - Use HTTPS: Train staff to ensure websites, especially ones asking for sensitive information, use HTTPS.
- Use Firewalls Deploying a desktop firewall and a network firewall can add layers of defense against phishing attacks.
- Regularly Monitor Systems Continuous monitoring can detect suspicious activities early. Employ intrusion detection and prevention systems.
- Cultivate a Skeptical Mindset Encourage a culture of skepticism. If an email or message seems suspicious, it’s probably for a good reason.
Tips for Individuals:
- Check URLs: Before clicking, hover over the link to view the actual URL. Be cautious of misspelled domains.
- Don’t Give Out Personal Information: Legitimate companies will never request sensitive information through email.
- Verify Requests: If an email asks for sensitive information, call the company directly using a known phone number (not one provided in the suspicious email).
- Use Different Passwords: Don’t use the same password across multiple services.
- Check Bank Statements: Regularly review bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.
Phishing attacks can be damaging, but with the right measures, their risk can be minimized. By cultivating awareness, employing technical safeguards, and fostering a culture of skepticism, businesses and individuals can protect themselves against the majority of phishing attempts. Always remember, when in doubt, verify!