Phishing Alert: How to Identify and Report Phishing Emails?
Nowadays, email is the most preferred mode of communication among businesses. Since emails bring lots of capabilities, it comes with some challenges. One of the prime challenge is phishing attempts that are meant to fool employees and lure them into revealing sensitive information. However, it must be the responsibility of organizations to train and educate their employees to combat and report email phishing and protect the organization’s data.
The number of phishing emails sent by cybercriminals every day exceeds 3 billion. These numbers are daunting for the IT security team, which imparts a notion of organizations vulnerability to phishing scams. The challenge lies in the identification of phishing emails. Since responding to emails is essential, being proactive is equally crucial. The organizations are responsible for training their employees so that they can recognize phishing emails and prevent cyberattacks.
This article will dive deeper into the functioning of phishing attacks, how to report phishing emails, and prevent email-based attacks.
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What is a Phishing Email?
Phishing scams are usually dispersed through email but can also be delivered via text and telephone calls (smishing and vishing). The most common form of phishing scam is through email since it is the most predominant way of developing them.
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As email continues to be a prime method of communication, particularly in the business world, your inbox has become one of the most popular targets for cybercriminals. An email-based phishing attack involves cybercriminals sending fake email messages impersonating someone you trust and getting you to send sensitive information, make wire transfers, or click on a link. Fraudsters may appear to be government officials, credit card providers, colleagues, suppliers, or even friends of yours.
How Can You Report Phishing Emails?
The sooner an email phishing is reported, the greater the likelihood of preventing more victims. Notifying security analysts, law enforcement agents, and your IT team may be necessary. Employees can notify other employees or organizations, depending on the situation..
Here are few prominent ways to report a phishing email:
Report to the concerned team regarding the suspicious activity
Employees must be aware of the corporate security policy, which contains essential information about reporting email scams within the company. By sending out periodic newsletters, posters, and other communication tools, you can encourage employees to report email scams as part of your ongoing cyber security awareness campaign.
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Report the suspicious email and mark the sender as junk
If you receive any suspicious email, be it about the offers, jobs, or lottery. It is always ideal for you to mark such a sender as junk. Most hackers use spamming techniques to access your system and exploit your important data.
Send the email to the trash
Whenever you get an email from an unknown sender or doubt the legitimacy of the particular email, then deleting and removing the email is highly recommended. Your employees must know such basic security practices to treat phishing emails. However, you are responsible for updating them and appreciating that they are doing the right thing.
Update the concerned governing body regarding the email
Phishing email scams are common in most countries, and government authorities usually deal with them. You can send the email in the United States to the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency, who will look into the issue.
Address the suspicious email to the concerned email provider
Email providers have built-in mechanisms that allow people to report email scams to them easily. If you want to report phishing messages, you can do so through Outlook, Gmail, or Yahoo! Employees must check their email at work with the report phishing button enabled, and they’re reminded to be proactive about phishing.
Employ Phishing Incident Response Tool
Organizations can employ security solutions such as Threatcop Phishing Incident Response tool, which provides a one-tap method for reporting phishing emails. TPIR also holds an immense reputation for providing automated phishing email detection and reporting to the company’s security team.
How to recognize a phishing email?
Detecting a phishing email has become quite challenging over time. Cybercriminals are employing the latest technology, and their attack vectors are becoming highly sophisticated. Such sophistication in phishing emails makes it tougher to recognize and repel.
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However, with an optimum level of cybersecurity awareness and phishing training, one can easily identify phishing emails and take necessary steps to mitigate risk from them. There are certain red flags that are needed to be pointed out to mark the suspicion of phishing.
Phishing emails often give a sense of authority, like you’ve received them from either friends, family, or colleagues. In addition to that, the emails might seem unprompted or sudden. There are some elements in the email itself that give it away about its maliciousness. All you need to do is identify those elements and confirm your suspicions.
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The phishing emails work by tricking you into clicking on links to get crucial data or opening attachments to spread malware. There are a few common patterns. Watch out for the ways to recognize phishing emails:
- Such emails claim that they have noticed some suspicious activity or attempts to log into the account.
- They claim that your bank or payment account are having some trouble.
- Ask you to reset your password or enter your credentials or personal information.
- Add a fake invoice to the package and ask to make payment.
- Shows up the payment details with the link to the payment.
- Say that you have won the lottery. For example, “Congratulations that you won a 1 million lottery ticket” attached the link to it to register and claim the lottery.
- The message shows that you qualify for the government scheme and refund program.
- Pops up a notification of a coupon or free product (like iPhone) from a popular shopping brand.
When you’re busy at work or just plain distracted, it’s easy to get distracted and miss the obvious generic greeting so that you click the link. This could lead to a fraudulent website containing a login portal or even an automatic malware download onto your computer. However, it is always best to employ the practice of checking suspicious links on Phishing URL Checkers to detect scams.
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Top ways to protect your company from the phishing scams
The best way to protect your data from phishing attempts is to take action after receiving a phishing email and to implement security measures to protect your information.
Employ a Cybersecurity Solution
Using security measures like firewalls and malware prevention will reduce the likelihood that a phishing attempt will be successful by blocking suspicious sources. Organizations use a firewall to prevent unauthorized websites from accessing your computer or being accessed by it.
Your firewall can automatically block a connection if you detect a suspicious link accessed by a computer (such as a link from a phishing email, for instance), preventing your employee from becoming a victim of the scam.
Additionally, organizations can employ security solutions like TPIR to report phishing emails. And to train their employees about phishing, smishing, and ransomware, the organization can use the Threatcop Security Awareness Training solution.
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Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to Secure Accounts
A multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds a layer of security to your login accounts to prevent compromised access due to phishing attacks. Organizations must ensure that their employees have activated multi-factor authentication, which will verify their identity. For example, you might receive a code on your smartphone that will allow you to access your account.
Implementing Email URL checkers
Another important way to prevent phishing scams and hackers from entering the system is by checking emails and links with Email URL Checkers. Whenever you receive an email from a company or brand, the Email URL Checker can detect the link’s legitimacy. It is a reliable online tool that quickly detects fake emails, and then you can report them to the concerned authority.
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Regularly Backup Your Data
Backing up the organization’s data cannot prevent any phishing attack but it can be helpful to recover the data in case a ransomware attack is led by phishing emails. Furthermore, organizations are constantly losing data due to attacks led by phishing. It is essential to back up your data to reduce the time it will take you to restore all of your data, ensuring an efficient workflow.
Keep Your Software Up to Date
The developers of your device may have patched vulnerabilities that phishing attacks can exploit — vulnerabilities usually patched by updated firmware that the developers release. Maintaining a current version of your smartphone and keeping the software up to date protects you from phishing attacks that exploit known vulnerabilities.
Conduct Security Awareness Training
As phishing attacks can be targeted at anyone in an organization, all employees must understand potential security vulnerabilities. Now is the time to invest in security awareness training so your employees can understand their role in ensuring security.
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Organizations can explore security solutions like Threatcop Security Awareness Training, a cyber attack simulation and awareness training tool to carry out their employees’ training. TSAT helps companies to safeguard themselves against mainstream threats such as WhatsApp phishing, ransomware, phishing, smishing, etc.
A successful phishing attack can incur serious consequences in any organization and it should not be taken lightly. Different mechanisms of the attack can incur huge problems for organizations such as data breach, financial damage, data exposure, intellectual property compromise, etc.
To avoid such scenarios, companies should train their staff to be vigilant and strengthen the organization’s resilience. Proper employee training leads to better defense against cyber attacks and the ability to report phishing attempts.
FAQs: Reporting Phishing Email
Are reporting phishing emails effective?
It is important to report phishing attempts to reduce the number of scam emails you receive. Put yourself in a position where scammers are less likely to target you. Make sure others are protected online from cybercrime.
How can you spot a phishing email?
These are some of the significant warning signs that appear in an email:
- Unfamiliar greetings.
- Errors in grammar and spelling.
- Domain names and email addresses that do not match.
What to do if your employee accidentally clicked a suspicious link?
When your employee clicks on a phishing link, you need to disconnect the particular system immediately from the internet so that further damage cannot be caused. In doing so, the malware won’t be able to spread to your network-connected devices. It depends on whether you are using a wired or wireless connection and whether you need to unplug the computer or laptop from the cable.
Does it make sense to delete emails that are phishing?
Whenever you receive an email containing spam, please remove it from your inbox immediately or avoid clicking links in it. A simple mistake can give a hacker access to your computer files.
Are phishing emails better reported or deleted?
Almost always, the best approach to unwanted emails involves deleting them immediately.