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Phishing Scams: What Are They and How To Avoid Them!

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phishing scams
You’ve probably noticed an increase in the number of emails from the brands you engage with online. The economy has undergone an extreme transformation, and companies in all kinds of fields are looking to update their customers on the availability of their products and services.

Unfortunately, scammers have noticed this trend, too, and they’ve been amplifying their phishing efforts in its wake.

All business owners should be wary of this type of cybercrime, especially when you consider that cyberattacks cost small business owners an average of $200,000. To protect your business from phishing, you’ll need to have a smart security strategy in place. But before we get to that, let’s quickly define exactly what a phishing email is. 

What Is Email Phishing?

Email phishing is an attempt to steal private information from a person or business that will be used for theft, blackmail or other nefarious purposes. 

This scam is executed by emailing misleading requests to click website links or email attachments which then install malicious software such as keyloggers or ransomware. 

These scammers usually disguise themselves by posing as businesses or government agencies that potential victims would typically engage with. For example, during the pandemic, many phishers have been sending emails designed to look like official communications from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Phishers may also pretend to be a local business or even an individual you know seeking funds for random things. Don't assume that an email is secure just because the name of a person or business you recognize appears as the sender's name or in the subject line.

How to Identify Email Phishing

Protecting your business from phishing emails is a two-part strategy. The first part is to make sure that you and the other people in your company know how to identify email phishing. The second is having a cybersecurity solution in place that monitors the security of all of your business-related computers and mobile devices. Let's start with a few simple tips.

Cyber security devices

Check the sender's email address

Phishing emails often use email addresses that may look similar to legitimate ones but contain slight misspellings or extra characters. Always verify the sender's email address before clicking on any links or providing sensitive information.

Look for generic greetings

Phishing emails may use generic greetings like "Dear Customer" instead of addressing you by your name. Legitimate companies usually personalize their emails with your name.

Beware of urgent or threatening language

Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency, using threatening language to make you act quickly without thinking. Be cautious of emails that claim your account will be closed, or you will face penalties if you don't respond immediately.

Examine the email content and formatting

Phishing emails may have spelling and grammar errors or inconsistent formatting. Be suspicious of any email that looks unprofessional or poorly written.

Hover over links before clicking

Hover your mouse over any links in the email to see the actual URL. Phishing emails may disguise malicious links by displaying a legitimate-looking link but redirecting you to a fake website.

Check for unexpected attachments

Be cautious of unsolicited emails with attachments, especially if you weren't expecting them. Malicious attachments could contain malware.

Verify with the company

If an email claims to be from a company you do business with, contact them directly using official contact information from their website. Do not use contact details provided in the suspicious email.

Be cautious with personal information requests

Legitimate companies typically won't ask for sensitive information like passwords, Social Security numbers, or credit card details via email. Avoid providing such information unless you are certain about the email's authenticity.

Watch out for fake logos and branding

Phishing emails may attempt to imitate the branding of reputable companies. Pay close attention to the logo, colors, and overall design to spot any discrepancies.

Use email security features

Enable email security features offered by your email service provider, such as spam filters and phishing detection tools.

Being able to identify phishing emails will help protect your small business from potential cyber threats, data breaches, and financial losses. Remember to stay cautious, double-check email details, and report any suspicious emails to your email provider or IT support team.