The prevalence of phishing via malicious emails makes phishing a major threat to email security. Among the most common methods used by malicious actors to trick unsuspecting users is the use of phishing emails that contain malicious URLs, i.e., hyperlinks masquerading as genuine ones that ask them to download a file that installs malware and ransomware on the user’s system.
Here’s everything you need to know about phishing, how phishing protection solutions can help, and crucial email security tips for sales and marketing teams to protect the organization against ever-increasing phishing attacks.
What is phishing?
Phishing is a cybercrime where threat actors send fraudulent emails or messages posing as legitimate domains or sources. Phishing is designed to steal confidential information, login credentials, debit/credit card information, email passwords, and other critical information pertaining to the entity the threat actor is targeting.
Similarly, threat actors use various tactics to get their hands on the PII (Personally Identifiable Information) about individuals and information assets of organizations, as given below.
Email phishing involves spoofing domain names to disguise the email’s sender as a legitimate source and includes links to fraudulent websites with login or payment portals designed to steal information. Phishing emails include but are not limited to fake bill invoices, romance scams, tax scams, investment opportunities, etc.
While most phishing targets are random, spear phishing involves the malicious actors selecting a particular victim for phishing attacks by monitoring a target. Spear phishing emails can be recognized by their personalized email address, concerning the victim’s name, designation, past browsing habits, or website visits.
Whaling is a phishing attack that imitates “whales,” i.e., the C-Suite employees, providing instructions to the workforce or junior staff. Whaling does not include links in emails but manipulates employees by providing transaction details for wire transfers or requesting important files, tricking information out of them as they follow their “superiors.”
Smishing and Vishing
Smishing and Vishing are phishing mechanisms that do not employ email communication. Smishing involves sending phishing text messages, and vishing involves phishing voice calls to scam victims out of finances and personal information.
What is phishing protection?
The past couple of years has transformed the world with the COVID-19 pandemic acting as a catalyst for enabling remote or hybrid work environments. Since most businesses have some part of their operations online and communicate via emails, there is an ongoing and immediate need for protection against phishing attacks.
Phishing protection refers to the tactics and countermeasures organizations deploy to protect email communication against phishing attacks. While there are many website security tips, phishing protection solutions primarily involve ransomware protection, spam filtering, advanced automation tools to monitor and detect phishing emails, DNS filtering, anti-impersonation software, and phishing awareness training programs.
It’s important to us to keep your data safe. LiveAgent uses advanced security features such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and IP bans of SPAM email senders to help you deal with any suspicious email or security threat. We store all customer information in safe data centers in multiple locations worldwide.
Phishing email protection is not limited and incorporates various elements to ensure top-of-the-line email security and data protection. But why the necessity?
Risks of a phishing attack and email security
It is estimated that 91% of cyberattacks are the result of phishing or malicious business email scams through which people can easily obtain valid credentials. Most of these threats are often disguised as legitimate email communication like password resets, updates to login details, or user verification codes. And with 60% of companies experiencing threats to finances, personal information, proprietary data, medical information, customer credentials, organizational systems and networks, and supply chain in 2021, it’s no wonder phishing is a significant cause of concern for individuals and enterprises. There can also be intangible damages caused by phishing and ransomware including brand damage, reputation damage, and financial loss. These losses could completely ruin your company. According to an IBM report, a single data breach in 2021 cost a company $4.24 million. Therefore, phishing protection is absolutely essential to mitigate.
Key threats originating in the absence of effective email security solutions
Threat actors may use email to seize control of a business, obtain private information, or impede IT access to resources. Email is a well-known attack vector. As a result, businesses and individuals must protect their email accounts against frequent attacks that aim to obtain unauthorized access to the accounts or content of correspondence. Threat intelligence is essential for the following possible reasons:
Malicious cyber hacks, such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware, are increasingly being used by attackers, often delivered via attachments in email or suspicious links. If successful, these advanced threats may obtain access to sensitive information, monitor user activity, and execute other harmful operations. Robust help desk security features like seen in LiveAgent are required to thwart nip malware in the bud.
Phishing attacks disclose sensitive consumer/stakeholder information, which could damage a company’s reputation. This has a significant impact on engagement and the brand’s image. As a result, reputation in the eyes of existing consumers, partners, staff, and, most crucially, new clients. It may be difficult to improve your marketing reputation after such situations. Revenue and brand value both fall.
Compensation and regulatory fines
Phishing attacks exposing confidential data may result in financial penalties, as with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PCI (Payment card industry compliance), and the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The fines are determined based on the industry and the severity of the crime committed. With financial losses and reputational damage, an organization may also collapse in extreme circumstances.
Phishing: Key countermeasure and safeguards for adequate phishing protection
It is crucial to understand the related tools and techniques to counter phishing threats effectively. Some of them include:
- Login security: Choose accounts and sites with HTTPS encryptions over HTTP sites. Your login credentials may not be encrypted if you log in from an HTTP page (as in, your input information could be interrupted when not accessing a secure page).
- Management of access: Having controlled admin permissions and preventing your personnel from installing or accessing confidential files on your network goes a long way in preventing data breaches.
- Set up a firewall: Putting your organization’s digital network behind a firewall is one of the most effective ways to protect it against cyber-attacks. A firewall system will prevent data breaches into your website or information systems before they can cause any harm.
- Advanced URL and malware protection: To truly battle the danger, enterprises can employ more advanced techniques such as deep learning and visual learning, which allow the system to recognize if a URL or landing page appears suspicious and dynamically adapt when attackers change their tactics.
How do phishing protection solutions work and stop ransomware?
In most cases, phishing attacks take the form of an email with a malicious link attached. When you click on the link, a fraudulent website takes you to a fake login page or payment portal designed to steal your login credentials. Sometimes, phishing links redirect you to fake pages and download ransomware on your device in the background, without your knowledge.
LiveAgent provide phishing protection integrations that protect you by:
- Analyzing email communications to flag phishing emails to send them to junk or spam so you cannot interact with them.
- Stopping you from visiting fraudulent websites by showing a warning before the web page loads.
- Providing you with threat monitoring, anti-malware software solutions, and sandboxes to stop ransomware and malware from downloading and blocking them before any harm befalls your system.
What to look for in an ideal phishing protection solution?
Successful cyber hacks might cost your organization thousands of dollars. Although there is no magic bullet to stop the rise, phishing security solutions should be selected after researching the provider’s clientele, credibility, and performance.
The first step in selecting anti-phishing software for your business infrastructure is to evaluate all potential attack vectors and platforms an attacker might use to target employees. Ensure your anti-phishing software has the following features:
- Effectiveness: The anti-phishing solution should be able to prevent the majority of the spam email, and the instances of false positives must also be minimum
- Seamless integration: Ensure that the solution is platform-independent. It must be compatible with both desktop and mobile platforms, and it must be simple to install and use.
Email security tips for sales and marketing teams
Here are some crucial email security tips that sales and marketing teams using LiveAgent can leverage to minimize successful penetration by threat actors into the organization’s information systems:
Provide adequate employee training
Lack of staff education is a significant factor in increasing email security risks due to phishing. Employee training and phishing awareness programs can aid the workforce in recognizing email-borne threats to avoid phishing and prevent ransomware attacks. Phishing awareness programs are useful as they show examples of common phishing scams and how cybercriminals implement phishing can help them prepare to identify phishing emails just by reading the email thanks to dead giveaway signs of phishing. You could also include a process library or an agent training checklist in your database that would assist employees down the road. This includes noticing grammatical errors and unusual wording or learning to recognize a suspicious email attachment.
Deploy multi-factor authentication (MFA)
MFA is a necessary pain these days, requiring additional passcodes, PINs, or biometrics for login activity. Sales and marketing teams should mandate strong password policies in conjunction with MFA to establish a robust and secure email account that cannot be penetrated or misused. Always use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters to have a secure password. Multi-Factor Authentication is not limited to secure logins but can also aid in the recovery of accounts, securing payments, etc.
Use anti-phishing protection solutions
There are numerous anti-phishing protection solutions to boost email security. With LiveAgent, companies are equipped with useful anti-phishing protection solutions such as Cisco that aid you by recognizing and flagging phishing emails. Anti-phishing protection solutions include:
Anti-phishing toolbars provide customized protection for web browsers by running checks and utilizing worldwide user data to flag already known phishing websites.
Common in social media support software designed to provide phishing protection against email messages that include social engineering tactics or impersonate known and trusted domains. Anti-impersonation software can increase any team’s arsenal against phishing attacks.
Anti-malware and anti-spam software
This type of security software monitors emails and network data to stop ransomware and malware from uploading to the system and harming the organizational network.
Ensure DNS authentication
Since phishing emails impersonate the organization’s web domain, securing a Domain Name System (DNS) must be prioritized to strengthen email security and deliverability. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), SPF (Sender Policy Framework), and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) authentication measures must be implemented to verify the sender of emails, the domain name, and the sender’s signature.
Use email scanning and filtering solutions
Email scanning and filtering solutions such as SPAM filters also help ensure excellent email security by scanning and flagging outgoing and incoming email traffic. Each incoming or outgoing email is scanned and analyzed to check if it might pose a threat, such as phishing, malicious links, ransomware, unwanted messages, etc. If a threat is detected, the email is automatically moved to junk or spam; if not, the email is directed to the inbox or outbox.
Deploy antivirus solutions
Antivirus software is necessary for sales and marketing teams looking to safeguard their information systems. Antivirus solutions protect organizational systems and include automated tools, firewalls, and anti-spyware tools to protect against phishing and malware attacks. Firewalls block malicious files trying to breach the system and include sandboxes for running files in isolation to check if it poses a threat.
Secure critical information
Securing information is paramount as one of the primary objectives of phishing attacks is to steal crucial employee and customer data, trade secrets, or other confidential organizational information.
Using cloud storage
By opting to integrate cloud solutions like iCloud, one could store all customer information in one place instead of a distributed or fragmented database, sales and marketing teams can reduce the entry points that malicious actors can exploit.
Zero trust sharing
Additionally, sales and marketing teams should mandate zero trust policies while sharing data. A zero-trust policy encompasses authenticating by ways of remote authentication or 2-step verification within or outside the organizational periphery to be verified before any critical information can be shared with them.
An encryption solution can boost email security by encrypting email communication and shared data while protecting its integrity.
Educating employees about top cybersecurity practices is as important as training them to avoid phishing emails. Individuals and organizations alike need cybersecurity training, and P2P interactions (Peer to Peer) can greatly benefit sales and marketing.
Educating your workforce can help combat phishing, social engineering, and exploitation tactics used by threat actors. An educated and strong workforce is the best way to enhance email security posture and protect an organization’s information assets.
Keep your communication safe with LiveAgent
LiveAgent offers essential safety features to help you keep your customer communication defended from SPAM and scams. Get started today!
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