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5 Ways Businesses Can Combat Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways for scammers to attack your business. Phishing is a numbers game, involving a massive amount of increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks launched on an ongoing basis.

Even when only a tiny percentage of these are successful, this is all part of the game. The scammers only have to get lucky once. Whereas businesses can’t rely on luck, a successful phishing attack can be devastating. 

Luckily, it isn’t all doom and gloom, here we look at five ways your business can combat phishing attacks.

1. Education and Training

Ultimately, the success or otherwise of any phishing attack is going to revolve around one central factor – a computer user. This is a critical point that is often overlooked by businesses lulled into a false sense of confidence by layers of cybersecurity. 

However, such security technology often relies on out-of-date blacklists. And even if it is only a few hours between a scam site being launched and it is flagged as such, this still allows plenty of time for a lot of damage to be done. 

By educating the end-user businesses can add an extra layer of security right where it matters. Education should start by ensuring that all employees understand what phishing attacks are, but it should also cover such aspects as:

  • Identify phishing emails: This should include how to recognize and avoid phishing attacks. 
  • Awareness of social engineering tactics: Scammers use tactics like impersonation, urgency, and emotional appeals to increase “conversions.”
  • Secure web browsing: This has become increasingly important – the move to cloud computing and remote work practices means users increasingly use personal devices to access work networks. Often from unsecured networks. 

Any end-user, even the most tech-savvy, can carelessly click a phishing email. An ongoing and relevant education policy can save a lot of grief.

2. Install Robust and Effective Security Software

The end-user needs to be educated to act as the final safety net in a business’s security technology procedures.  “Safety net” is the crucial part of this statement. The foremost goal of any security policy is to block phishing scams before they reach the user. 

Anti-virus and other security solutions have been essential for decades. But they are even more relevant today. The blend of cloud computing and users accessing confidential data from personal devices is a dangerous one. This represents a definite problem for businesses and one that scammers are more than happy to exploit. 

The upshot is that an antivirus suite installed on a server and office-based desktop computers is no longer enough. Nowadays, a software security suite needs to include:

  • Multi-platform protection: The software needs to work across all major Operating Systems and devices.
  • Realtime protection: Phishing software shouldn’t just rely on blacklists, it should also provide real-time protection against known and emerging threats. 
  • Easy and remote administration: The software should offer intuitive management interfaces and remote administration capabilities for convenient monitoring and control.

A robust anti-phishing policy should always have powerful software protection at its core. 

3. Establish a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

This problem has been touched on in each section, which is a testament to its relevance. The shift to remote working poses a significant challenge. Making moves to minimize this risk is definitely one way that businesses can combat phishing attacks.

Proper measures that can help to mitigate this risk include:

  • Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions: This might not be the most popular move, but MDM solutions can enforce security policies, even on employee-owned devices. 
  • Encourage the use of VPNs: VPNs encrypt data even when connected to unsecured networks.
  • Enable segmentation and containerization: This can segregate work and personal applications by creating separate “containers” or “segments” for each.

A BYOD work environment has many benefits. Security isn’t one of them. It introduces unique challenges and risks that businesses must address proactively to protect against phishing attacks and data breaches.

4. Embrace the AI Revolution

AI is a double-edged sword. Scammers can use it in a multitude of ways to increase the realism of their emails. Some of the techniques involve deep fake images, the use of chatbots to create genuine-sounding text, and as a way of automating research to help with a technique known as spear phishing.

But anti-phishing has always been an arms race between bad actors and security professionals. And what is good for the goose, is good for the gander. Here are some of the ways that AI can be integrated into cyber and physical security systems: 

  • Computer Vision for Image Analysis: AI-powered computer vision can analyze images in incoming emails to detect signs of tampering or deep fake techniques.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) for Text Analysis: AI-based NLP can analyze email content to identify suspicious language patterns or anomalies indicative of phishing attempts.
  • Machine Learning for Anomaly Detection: AI-driven machine learning algorithms can learn from patterns in user behavior and network traffic to detect anomalies and flag potential phishing attacks.

These solutions exist at the cutting edge of technology, but their use is becoming more widespread and is likely to reach a point of critical momentum that will see them become an essential part of any business’s security policy.

5. Regular Security Updates and Patches

Back to the old-school methods with this one. However, keeping all your applications and operating systems up-to-date is still relevant and relatively easy.

But, of course, the BYOD problem rears its ugly head again. This is no longer just a case of keeping server and workstation software up to date, the problem of multiple devices and platforms running different versions of apps needs to be accounted for. 

Here are some of the ways that businesses can address this issue:

  • Implement Patch Management Systems: Utilize patch management systems to centrally manage and distribute software updates across all devices, including employee-owned devices.
  • Establish Device and Application Compatibility Guidelines: Define guidelines for supported devices and applications.
  • Conduct Regular Vulnerability Assessments: Perform regular vulnerability assessments to identify potential weaknesses and prioritize patching based on criticality.

Security updates should be an essential component of any robust anti-phishing solution.

Phishing Attacks: Make Sure Your Business Is the One That Got Away

Being a victim of a phishing attack can be catastrophic for a business. And although there are ways to recover from a phishing attack, prevention is always the best defense. 

By implementing proactive measures such as employee education, robust security software, regular updates, and addressing the challenges of BYOD environments, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks. 

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