A hospice company employee email account in Tennessee was accessed by cybercriminals for a period of two days – potentially compromising the private medical data of the patients in their care. Are you making the same cybersecurity errors they were?
Did you know? The average phishing attack costs businesses $1.6 million.
Can you afford that price tag? Not likely – but more importantly, do you believe that number?
The problem with the rising tide of cybercrime incidents (e.g. the rate of phishing attacks increased by 65% in recent years) is that you get desensitized to the whole thing.
You’ve probably heard so much about phishing, ransomware and data breaches that it’s just become background noise.
Would you like a wakeup call?
Nashville Hospice Company Hit By Phishing Attack
If stats aren’t selling you on the reality of phishing and cybercrime, the consider this real-life example from just a couple months ago.
Alive Hospice in Nashville has reported that an employee’s email account was accessed by an unauthorized party in May 2019. When the suspicious activity was noted, they launched an investigation, discovering that the hackers had access to the account for two days.
While no evidence suggests that patient info was accessed or stolen, that can be difficult to determine. And, when it comes to the principle of the matter, it doesn’t matter whether sensitive info was stolen or not – their defenses were breached, simple as that.
The Growing Threat Of Phishing
Cybercrime attacks continue to happen on a regular basis; new variations on the same old trick that pop up over and over again point to a bigger problem than the actual scams – businesses aren’t learning to protect themselves. That’s why the number of reported phishing attacks has gone up by 65% in the past few years.
But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves – let’s make sure everyone knows what we’re talking about…
Phishing is a method in which cybercriminals send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources in order to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers.
The reality is that cybercriminals can keep doing the same old thing because users keep falling for the exact same tactics without ever seeming to learn the cybersecurity measures needed to protect against them.
That’s why the– businesses keep making it easy for cybercriminals to get away with.
What Makes Phishing So Dangerous?
Phishing is a hacking technique that “fishes” for victims by sending them deceptive emails. Virtually anyone on the internet has seen a phishing attack.
Phishing attacks are mass emails that request confidential information or credentials under pretenses, link to malicious websites or include malware as an attachment.
With only a surprisingly small amount of information, cybercriminals can convincingly pose as business members and superiors in order to persuade employees to give them money, data or crucial information.
Top 6 Ways To Spot A Phishing Email
Share these key tips with your employees to ensure they know how to spot a phishing attempt:
- Incorrect Domain: Before even taking a look at the body of the message, check out the domain in the sender’s address. Maybe they claim to be from your bank, or a big name company – but talk is cheap. It’s much more difficult to spoof an actual domain name, and so it’s more common to see domains that are closer, but not 100% correct. If it seems fishy, it probably is.
- Suspicious Links: Always be sure to hover your mouse over a link in an email before clicking it. That allows you to see where it actually leads. While it may look harmless, the actual URL may show otherwise, so always look, and rarely click.
- Spelling and Grammar: Modern cybersecurity awareness comes down to paying attention to the details. When reading a suspicious email, keep an eye out for any typos or glaring errors. Whereas legitimate messages from your bank or vendors would be properly edited, phishing emails are notorious for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Specificity: Another point to consider is how vague the email is. Whereas legitimate senders will likely have your information already (such as your first name) and will use it in the salutation, scammers will often employ vaguer terminology, such as “Valued Customer” – this allows them to use the same email for multiple targets in a mass attack.
- Urgent and Threatening: If the subject line makes it sound like an emergency — “Your account has been suspended”, or “You’re being hacked” — that’s another red flag. It’s in the scammer’s interest to make you panic and move quickly, which might lead to you overlooking other indicators that it’s a phishing email.
- Attachments: Phishers will often try to get you to open an attachment, so, if you see an attachment in combination with any of the above indicators, it’s only more proof that the email is likely part of a phishing attempt.
In the end, the key to phishing methodology is that it doesn’t rely on digital security vulnerabilities or cutting-edge hacking technology; phishing targets the user, who, without the right training, will always be a security risk, regardless of the IT measures set in place.
Making security education a routine for your entire team – management included – is the most effective way to stop a phishing attempt. Waiting for another major cyberattack to start making the rounds is not the time to start investing in your staff’s cybersecurity awareness.
Waiting for another major cyberattack to start making the rounds is not the time to start looking at providing cybersecurity training for your staff- at that point, it’ll be too late. Making cybersecurity education a routine for your entire team – management included – is the most effective way to ensure your team can spot and stop a phishing attempt.
Allow Kraft Technology Group to help. We’ve can provide IT security services — including comprehensive cybersecurity training — to organizations like yours. By having our expert team of IT security professionals equip you with robust cybersecurity solutions, train your staff to spot and eliminate threats, as well as keep everything up to date, you can ensure all your cybersecurity bases are covered.
Like this article? Check out the following blogs to learn more:
The Need for Cybersecurity Expertise at the Board Level for Banking
The new Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices (HICP)
NIST’s Small Business Cybersecurity Corner
Brian Gray, MCP, is the President at Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG), an affiliate of KraftCPAs PLLC. Within his role, Brian is responsible for all aspects of service delivery to our clients. Brian has a decade of experience working for managed service providers. He has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, accounting, legal, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.