It's no question that hackers nowadays have gotten exceedingly clever – almost unfairly so. It’s vital that you protect your business from online scams, and one from the biggest threats is really a scam called phishing – and no, it does not have anything to complete with fish. The name is disappointingly misleading. Anyways, phishing happens when a hacker or scammer impersonates a trusted institution, like a bank, to trick targets into giving away personal information. But there is a whole other level of phishing. And that is called spear phishing (again, not quite sure where they got the name.) Spear phishing is even more nefarious than regular phishing since it is harder to detect. We'll review what spear phishing is and how to avoid it.
What's spear phishing?
Spear phishing is when a scammer poses as someone you know, like a friend, family member, or colleague, to get your private information. They'll impersonate someone specific to a person or business by gathering personal details about their target. They'll ask the target to do something reasonable, like following a hyperlink, downloading or opening an attachment, or sending a username and password. Then they're in – they can steal personal or business information. These attacks are diabolical because they're designed to put the victim at ease and not raise their suspicions. They're convincing.
The results of spear phishing.
Spear phishing is really a danger for businesses because all it takes is a employee falling hook, line, and sinker (sorry, couldn't resist) for that scam for that hacker to achieve access to the network. They can grab all sorts of stuff – business financial information, customer personal information like charge card numbers, sensitive business documents. The costs of a data breach can be astronomical when it comes to lost business, income, reputation, and dealing with the legal fallout, which is why it’s essential that you know how to handle a data breach at your business. Because the unknowing target suspects nothing, the breach could go unnoticed, leading to huge losses over time.
How to avoid being spear phished.
Emails could be hacked or intercepted. Plus, let's say the recipient gets phished? That would be terribly unfortunate. Use the phone or secure online sites if you must (See Tip 6.)
Even should you know the source or the individual and trust them, don't reply to any emails asking for account details or other private information without first verifying that the source is, in fact, the source and that they sent it. A quick telephone call can save you so much trouble. If at all possible, don't give out any information over email at all – see Tip 1.
Firewalls and anti-virus software have to be kept up-to-date so that they're ready for the latest threats. Hackers are good at determining how to get around security and exploit weaknesses in technology, and that's why you have to understand your information technology risks.
The sooner you catch and weird activity on your accounts, the better. It's a good idea to become vigilant and monitor all financial accounts carefully. It might not be the most thrilling thing within the world, but it's still important.
Also, tell your employees to be careful with phone calls – phishers can use phones as easily as the internet. Don't give personal information out over the telephone unless it's a trusted person on the other end and you called them, not another way around.
This one is pretty simple. If something seems even slightly off, don't engage. Back away slowly. If it quacks like a duck, chances are it's a duck. Or phishing scam. Same thing.
Social media is where hackers get a large amount of their information so that they can more effectively target their victim. Personal information and details should remain personal.
Just to be on the safe side, get that thing off your computer.
Phishing and spear phishing can be devastating for businesses. Should you experience a data breach, you may never win back the trust of the customers. That's why it's so vital that you train your employees about common online scams and the way to recognize them. Your best play is making sure that everyone knows what's out there. Remember, hackers are smart. They make you think they're people that you simply know and maybe like.
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