Phishing Attacks: How to Recognize Them
One phishing email has the power to cause downtime for your entire business and unfortunately the scams are getting more sophisticated on a daily basis, thus harder to detect. Cybercrime is on the rise, and hackers are using any opportunity to take advantage of an unknowing victim to gain access to personal information for financial gain. The new ‘work from anywhere world’ makes everyone at risk to cyber attacks, especially because threats are harder to track over home networks. The blurred lines between home and work create security nightmares if safety protocols are ignored, or don’t exist. One commonly used tactic is phishing. Phishing messages are crafted to deliver a sense of urgency or fear with the end goal of capturing a person’s sensitive data. If your employees fall prey to phishing scams while working from home, it can affect your company network by transferring malware and viruses over internet connections.
Here are five different types of phishing attacks to avoid:
1) Spear Phishing; Attackers pass themselves off as someone the target knows well or an organization that they’re familiar with to gain access to compromising information (e.g., credentials or financial information), which is used to exploit the victim.
2) Whaling; Is a form of spear phishing with a focus on a high-value target, typically a senior employee within an organization, to boost credibility. This approach also targets other high-level employees within an organization as the potential victims and includes an attempt to gain access to company platforms or financial information.
3) Mass Campaigns; Mass phishing campaigns cast a wider net. Emails are sent to the masses from a knock-off corporate entity insisting a password needs to be updated or credit card information is outdated.
4) Ambulance Chasing Phishing: Attackers use a current crisis to drive urgency for victims to take action that will lead to compromising data or information. For example, targets may receive a fraudulent email encouraging them to donate to relief funds for recent natural disasters or the COVID-19 global pandemic. According to Google, it has been reported that cybercriminals have sent an estimated 18 million hoax emails about COVID-19 to Gmail users every day.
5) Pretexting; Pretexting involves an attacker doing something via a non-email channel (e.g., voicemail) to set an expectation that they’ll be sending something seemingly legitimate in the near future only to send an email that contains malicious links.
What to do if you think you’ve received a phishing email?
First, to help identify it as a phishing email, check to see if the signed-by field was generated by a DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) or a service. DKIM is a good first step in email authentication and is a technical solution to prove that an email is not fake. For example, if you received an email from email@example.com, you would see a DKIM in the signature that looks like this: technology-com.20150623.gappssmtp.com. This is how all emails through a domain are processed.
Emails shared through a service (e.g., Drive, Calendar, Dropbox, Box, etc.) do not have a DKIM. Instead, you would see the signature of the provided service (i.e., signed-by dropbox.com). If you receive a file, and it is not signed by google.com, gmail.com, dropbox.com, it is likely phishing – delete it immediately. It’s important to remain vigilant and proceed with caution in these circumstances.