Cyber attacks come in a variety of forms and malicious parties are constantly working to find new ways to access sensitive and personal information. That is why cloud security and compliance has to be a priority for any business. The first step in preventing attacks and mitigating damage is understanding the different ways hackers will launch attacks. In this post, we will take a closer look at phishing and spear phishing and ways individuals and businesses can avoid becoming a victim to this type of attack.

What is Phishing?

Essentially, phishing involves sending a malicious email that looks like it is coming from a reliable and credible source. The goal is to get the recipient to click on a link or take other actions that will result in the hacker gaining access to data. This clever type of attack combines taps into our natural inclination to trust certain sources and uses technical bait to get us to download malware or send personal information.

Phishing tends to cast a rather wide net and hope that a few people will trust the email. However, there is a more targeted approach known as spear phishing. With this type of attack, the hacker actually conducts research on the target and creates a personal message. This makes it more likely that the recipient will trust the message. In some cases, the hacker will use the name of a familiar sender, including a co-worker or company. The email may also use a cloned website to make links appear credible and use the illegitimate website to collect login credentials or other data. Because of its targeted nature, spear phishing is difficult to identify and protect against.

Preventing Phishing

For businesses, the best way to protect against phishing is to educate employees about this type of attack and what to look out for when checking emails. Oftentimes, employees will have an inbox full of dozens if not hundreds of emails, and they feel pressured to rush through all their correspondence. Hackers on counting on the fact that their victims aren’t taking the time to look too hard at the details of each email. Employers need to make sure that their staff isn’t too rushed and are actively participating in preventing cyber attacks by vetting emails.

Here are some additional tips to help prevent phishing attacks and improve cloud security:

  • Take your time. As mentioned above, it is important to take a few seconds to analyze the email and think critically about whether it is actually from a trustworthy source. If something seems off, trust your gut.
  • Analyze links. If an email asks you to click on a link, use your cursor to hover over the link. This will show you the URL. If it looks suspicious and isn’t a clear cut URL, don’t click on the link.
  • Look at email headers. Make sure that the “Reply-to” and “Return-Path” address match up and are consistent with any domains mentioned in the email.
  • Use a sandbox environment. Test the content and links of any suspicious emails in a sandbox environment so that you can confirm the source and validity of any links.

It can be easy to fall victim to phishing cyberattacks, especially if you don’t know how they work or what to look out for as you check emails. A little education can go a long way in identifying potential problems and avoiding this type of attack. Keep in mind that even personalized emails can be a form of spear phishing, so take the time to verify the sender and any links as you work your way through your inbox. For more information about cloud security, phishing, and ways to prevent this type of attack, contact the experts at prancer.