Did you know that phishing attacks are more common than ever before? Studies suggest that the incidence of phishing attempts has increased by 600% in 2020, as the number of remote workers has increased dramatically.

Phishing emails are designed to encourage users to share information or create opportunities for hackers to breach defenses and access data. Often, phishing emails come from unexpected sources, but sometimes, they mimic well-known companies and brands. 

If you use email to communicate with others, or your employees rely heavily on email at work, it’s always beneficial to be wary of opening mail from unknown sources and to keep your eyes peeled for common signs of phishing scams.

Fraudulent phishing emails are the number one cause of security breaches, but there are ways to clamp down and keep scammers and hackers at bay. It starts with knowing how to recognize phishing emails.

How to Spot Phishing

Some phishing emails are highly sophisticated, while others have glaring mistakes or tell-tale signs that should set alarm bells ringing. Common red flags to look out for include:

  • Fake domains: if you hover your mouse over the sender address, you may find that the domain name is completely different to the name given by the sender. This is often the case for fake emails that supposedly come from high-profile brands and businesses.
  • Personal information requests: a legitimate email from an organization like a retailer, a bank, a lender, a healthcare practice, or a legal firm will never ask you to provide personal information in an email. Avoid responding to any emails or clicking on links that request data such as names, addresses or bank account details. Trusted senders will also never ask you to make a payment via an email. 
  • Suspicious links and attachments: if you’re unsure about links in an email or there are attachments that look suspicious, delete the email immediately. Clicking on the link or opening the attachment can unleash a virus on your computer.
  • Claiming prizes: if you receive an email that tells you to click on a link to claim a prize, this is a surefire sign that you’ve been targeted by a phishing scam. 
  • Threats: a company you can trust will never threaten you or try and scare you into taking action via email. Ignore any messages that suggest that something negative will happen to you if you don’t respond to the email or provide information. Common examples include an account being suspended if you don’t verify your details. 
  • Grammatical and spelling mistakes and clumsy, unnatural wording: if the language seems odd or the text or subject line contains grammatical or spelling errors, avoid opening the message. 

Preventing Phishing Attacks

Phishing prevention has two aspects. The first is to implement spam filtering technology on your network. This will minimize the amount of spam messages that make it into your inbox, but it isn’t infallible. 

For prevention to be successful, people need to know how to recognize phishing emails. Businesses can provide specialty training on phishing for employees.

Hiring an IT company, which provides tailored, cutting-edge cybersecurity services, can help you avoid phishing attacks. IT service providers know how to implement the security technologies on your network, and they can supply you with the training your employees need.

Phishing attacks are a very common form of cybercrime. To keep your business safe and your inbox clear, look out for red flags, use filters, and take advantage of innovative cybersecurity services.