February 15, 2023

How to identify and prevent a phishing attack

Phishing attacks have become one of the most prevalent security threats faced by businesses today. Whether it is through an email, phone call, or social media message, phishing scams can be disguised as legitimate communication from trusted sources and result in the theft of sensitive information and financial losses.

Email phishing is still a threat to businesses. Despite being one of the oldest forms of cyber crime, compromised business emails significantly contribute to the cyber crime statistics in South Africa. Attackers use emails as an entry point to gain access to business networks.

Business email compromise ranks as one of the most common types of cyber attack faced by South African businesses, with almost 680 million email threats detected. South Africa experiences the highest rate of email threats on the continent. By understanding the methods used by attackers, your organisation can implement effective measures to protect against phishing scams and safeguard your valuable assets.

Identifying a phishing attack

While it’s often easy to spot a spam email by its poorly designed graphics and poor punctuation, not all cyber criminals use bad grammar when trying to lure their victims. They have become a lot more sophisticated and are using advanced social engineering techniques to trick users.

With spear phishing attacks, for example, criminals direct their efforts at a specific person within a company. This may require months of research and grooming to get to know their victim. This type of targeted phishing attack can be highly damaging for a business and is quite successful.

Whaling is another type of phishing attack that targets a specific individual. Here, cyber criminals impersonate a member of staff from senior management and use their assumed authority to coerce someone lower down the ranks. By pretending to be someone the employee already knows, attackers are able to successfully infiltrate business networks.

Staff need to be trained to identify these various types of phishing attacks. This can be done through formal training and simulations. It's important to regularly educate employees about the latest phishing tactics and how to identify and avoid them. This will keep cyber security front of mind.

Preventing phishing attacks

While education and training is essential, most businesses require a more robust cyber security solution to combat phishing. For both SMEs and enterprises, advanced email filtering and protection can help prevent a phishing attack.

Email filtering technologies identify and block suspicious emails before they reach employees’ inboxes. Analysing the contents as well as any embedded URLs, advanced email protection ensures that phishing attempts are stopped in their tracks. URL filtering ensures that access is blocked to malicious websites and prevents employees from clicking on suspicious links.

Another technique used by businesses is network segmentation. By segmenting the network and restricting access to sensitive data, organisations can minimise the impact of a phishing attack. Approaching cyber security with endpoint protection in mind ensures that each part of the business network can operate independently from the rest.

With SIEM technology, IT leaders can automatically scan their networks identifying any suspicious patterns of behaviour. Powered by artificial intelligence, SIEM technology allows organisations to identify and respond to threats timelessly.

SEACOM Businesses provides large enterprises and SMEs with various cyber security tools and email protection. These services can drastically reduce the chances of phishing attacks and protect confidential communications. For more information or to get a quote for our Enhanced Email, SIEM or other cyber security solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

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