Knowing how to prevent phishing scams is an essential part of running any business. Businesses big and small can easily become targets for scammers and hackers if data is not properly protected, and ultimately it can end up costing your organization tens of thousands of dollars–or more. If your company has any type of private data, such as banking information, unique user logins, and information, or corporate accounts at third-party vendors, you are susceptible to phishing attempts.
The good news is that Flagler Technologies, a premier IT solutions provider in Florida, can help ensure that your business stays protected. Make sure that all of your private data, for both employees and customers, is secure; that you are taking every possible step to thwart suspicious activities; and that every member of your team knows what to be on the lookout for. Additionally, it is imperative to know how to respond to a phishing email or message, what to and not to do, and the best defenses to employ.
What Are Phishing Scams?
In order to learn how to prevent a phishing message, first, it is essential to understand what precisely phishing is and how criminals attempt to access your information. Online scams are any event in which a hacker or criminal attempts to gain private data by way of fraud.
This data can include company user names, passwords, credit cards, and banking information, and much more. Usually, a criminal will attempt to disguise themself as a legitimate source in order to trick employees into handing over valuable information.
Examples of these common scams include using e-mail addresses that mimic real company users, phone calls where the caller identifies themself as a member of the government or a trusted service provider, and more. It's important to prepare your office staff on how to handle a phishing email such as this.
Signs of a Phishing Scam
There are a few telltale signs that you may be dealing with an attempted scam in your digital communications, and it is essential to be cognizant of each of these things. Share this information with your employees and ask them to ignore and report any questionable communication so that you or your managed IT services company can investigate the source. Remember, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to preventing phishing scams.
Common signs include:
Return email addresses that are similar, yet not identical to, a trusted source such as internal senders or trusted vendors.
E-mails or phone calls with urgent calls to action. Scammers may prompt you to complete a payment or reset a password under threat that your account will be deleted, that you will incur fines, or that your information will be wiped.
An email address and phone calls that do not include your name or the name of your company. Common greetings will include "Dear Customer" or "Member:"
Fake websites. The e-mail may include links to a website that looks similar to the real company's website yet is unaffiliated. There may be slight deviations in spelling, or you may notice that the link has a different top-level domain (TLD). For example, instead of ending in ".com," the link may end in ".net."
You may be asked to provide information online or over the phone that should not be released or for a purpose that does not make sense, such as avoiding an arrest warrant or confirming a purchase you did not make.
A suspicious email or a series of email messages that ask you to purchase gift cards on your own and provide the sender with the gift card number. This is a common scam that criminals often use for financial gain. They may send an e-mail from an address that closely resembles a co-worker or bosses, and ask you to purchase gift cards in large amounts.
How Can Phishing Affect a Business?
Scams like this negatively impact businesses in three main ways: loss of productivity, damaged reputation, and financial costs.
Loss of Productivity
Loss of productivity may not be tangible, but it is a very real effect of falling victim to a phishing scam. When your business falls victim to a scam, it impacts productivity in a negative way on several fronts. First, your company must take the time to assess the extent of the damage, determine an appropriate solution, and then also notify and apologize to all shareholders or customers who are impacted. This may lead to many customer service phone calls and inquiries regarding the incident, which takes manpower to respond to.
Additionally, your company will likely experience some downtime as you assess the damage and determine how to best move forward. You may have to spend an entire day changing passwords and making sure that your banks are aware of the incident. This leads to hours upon hours of lost productivity.
Hacks and scams can also impact the reputation of your business or organization in a negative light. Even if no customer or client information becomes compromised in the event, you may lose trust among your own employees. If customers are impacted by the event, you stand to lose even more.
It is possible for a company to lose business over a phishing scam, particularly if sensitive customer data such as credit card information or addresses become breached.
Most importantly, falling victim to a scam like this can hit your business where it hurts the most–right in the wallet. Phishing scams can be extremely costly, leading to steep financial consequences.
First, depending on the industry in which your company operates, you may be obligated to pay fines to a regulatory body as a penalty for compromising consumer information. Second, customers may leave your company for a more reputable organization and take their accounts or subscriptions with them. Third, you will have to spend hours and money to restore the protection of your company. And lastly, if a scammer is successful in obtaining credit card or banking information, they may steal from you or your customers, leaving you responsible for the bill.
The Best Defense Against Phishing
While phishing scams are a very real threat, the good news is that you can learn how to prevent phishing scams from taking advantage of your business and customers.
Follow these tips for the best defense against phishing:
Only enter personal information on secure websites
Always verify a request before completing a transaction
Delete suspicious e-mails immediately
Do not click any hyperlinks in suspicious emails
Double-check e-mail addresses and questionable web addresses
Encrypt all of your private data
Use anti-virus software
Implement multi-factor authentication
The Role of Managed IT Services
When considering how to prevent a phishing scam, employing the help of a managed IT services company is an excellent defense. Here at Flagler Technologies, we help countless organizations to maintain their cybersecurity and provide data security solutions in Florida for companies of all sizes.