Phishing attacks continue to be one of the most highly utilized tools for hackers and cyber-criminals looking to extort or steal data from people and businesses. A 2019 data breach investigation by Verizon found that 32% of the data breaches in 2018 involved phishing attacks.  Avanan, A cyber-security firm, reported that 1 in 25 branded emails is a phishing email.  Phishers are able to commonly pose as popular brands, like Microsoft and Amazon, as well as other vendors and your very own customers!

In a report by Wombat Security, it was found that more than 75% of organizations surveyed were targeted by phishing scams last year.  Thus, whether you're  using your home computer or you are the owner of a business with multiple workstations and servers, you are a potential target for these types of phishing attacks.

Identifying and Preventing Threats

The best way to deal with spear phishing attacks is prevention.  Having measures in place that can actively prevent spear phishing attempts is key to keeping your data and users safe.

One of the most popular methods hackers use for spear phishing is through email.  It's easy for hackers and cyber criminals to obfuscate and spoof emails to look legitimate, while hiding potential threats within the message body or in a link. For example, you may receive a message from an email address that looks familiar to you, because it appears to be from a contact or from a vendor or customer that you work with when, in reality, you are being spear phished.

A good way of preventing these types of attacks is by using a good spam filter that can deal with these threats before they even reach your inbox.  Natural Networks is a Managed IT Services Provider, and we offer spam filter protection for many of our own clients.  Spam filters are able to identify and deal with these threats before they can become a problem.

Being careful of emails containing a lot of images, links, or attachments is also necessary in the fight to stop phishing scams.  If you receive an email from a source that you have not reached out to previously or received a message with a link on it, it's important to first take a moment to know where that link is going before clicking it.  The saying, "Trust but verify.," is one that should be remembered when dealing with suspicious emails.

Training your employees is also important in preventing phishing emails from becoming a serious issue.  There are red flags and other signs that should you or your staff that an email could be problematic.  Natural Networks can help train you and your staff to quickly identify emails that could be deemed unsafe, and what to do with them.  There are training tools that can be used to help identify employee's who may click on unsafe emails that can alert you, and help train these employee's to know what is and isn't a safe email.

Spear Phishing Attacks Going Forward

With more companies using these communications methods, we can expect attacks to continue to increase and become more sophisticated.  The ways in which cyber-criminals target companies and individuals will continue to advance so long as their methods show promise.

So far, we know that the methods these cyber-criminals use, and the targets they go after, continue to include a growing number of malicious files and HTTPS sites in phishing scams.  Phishing attacks on targets using web-based email applications are growing.  Also, attacks on U.S. organizations and businesses are increasing by the numbers.

Because Natural Networks is a Managed IT Services Provider, we are always looking out for threats, like spear phishing attacks.  If you're interested in learning more about how we can help prevent these kinds of attacks on your company or organization, contact us today.