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CITE Technology Remote Support
7 min read

5 Easy Ways to Counter Phishing Emails

Feb 3, 2020 12:06:23 PM

Phishing

Phishing emails are a relentless threat, infiltrating inboxes daily and posing significant risks to both personal and business accounts. Email remains the primary avenue through which hackers gain access to sensitive information.

The good news?

With the implementation of five straightforward steps, individuals and businesses can fortify their defenses against these malicious attacks. Let's dive deeper into each of these measures to understand how they can safeguard our inboxes, networks, and overall cybersecurity posture.

  1. What are Phishing Emails?
  2. What are the Key Characteristics of a Phishing Email?
  3. 5 Steps to Counter Phishing Emails

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What are Phishing Emails?

Phishing emails are deceptive messages crafted by cybercriminals to trick recipients into divulging sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, or personal identification details. These emails typically impersonate legitimate entities, such as banks, government agencies, or reputable organizations, in an attempt to establish trust and credibility with the recipient.

What are the Key Characteristics of a Phishing Email?

Phishing emails often employ various psychological tactics to manipulate recipients into taking specific actions, such as clicking on malicious links, downloading harmful attachments, or providing confidential information. These tactics may include creating a sense of urgency, instilling fear of consequences, or offering enticing rewards or opportunities.

Phishing emails typically exhibit several key characteristics:

  1. Spoofed Identities: Cybercriminals often spoof email addresses or mimic the branding of legitimate organizations to create an illusion of authenticity.

  2. Urgency or Fear Tactics: Phishing emails frequently employ urgent language or threats to manipulate recipients into taking immediate action, such as clicking on malicious links or providing personal information.

  3. Suspicious Links or Attachments: These emails may contain links to counterfeit websites or malicious attachments designed to infect devices with malware or ransomware.

  4. Social Engineering Techniques: Phishing emails leverage psychological manipulation to exploit human vulnerabilities, such as curiosity, greed, or fear, to increase the likelihood of success.

  5. Requests for Personal Information: Phishing emails often request sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or social security numbers, under the guise of account verification or security checks.

5 Steps to Counter Phishing Emails

Verify Sender Information

Phishing emails mimic legitimate addresses. Villains incorporate genuine company names within the composition of both web addresses and emails. How to counter-attack? 

  1.  Pause. 

  2. Notice the sender’s email address. In a brief moment, analyzing the address reveals if the sender is genuine or a hoax. A high-jacked version of someone else’s email address may read “@hilton.rewards” versus an authentic sender, such as “@hilton.com”. 

  3. Extend your counter-attack technique into the body of the email. That is, analyze every link within the text by hovering/inspecting before clicking. Why? Because criminals cleverly interweave malicious and authentic links throughout emails.  

Beware of Bad Grammar 

This is the most obvious mode of defense. If the structure or grammar within the body of the message leaves you raising an eyebrow, it's most likely a phish!

Phishing Email Grammar Alerts: 

  • Grammatical errors

  • Spelling mistakes

  • Awkward manners of expression

Keep in mind that businesses invest in advertising. Professional writers and editors are hired. Legality, grammar, and spelling are valued. So, when a business email contains mistakes in these areas, it smells like a phish. 

Why do these poorly written emails still circulate?

We've wondered the same. Intriguingly, authors Levitt and Dubner may have an answer. They suggest that poorly written emails eliminate “false positive” responses.

Hence, these emails actually shape the target audience for the hackers. Criminals know they're most likely to succeed in conning money from persons gullible enough to respond to these poorly-crafted emails.

Adversely, persons clued into the illegitimacy (by the poor craftsmanship) of these emails are a waste of the hackers' time. 

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Stay Alert and Educated (Never Share Personal Information)

Authenticity is the hacker’s goal. Great lengths are taken. An email may replicate the style used by your bank, or even your own company.

However, "sound the alarm!" whenever unusual requests are made. 

Does the email request unusual personal information (banking details or login credentials)? 

In this case, stay smart, and stay away. If there’s reason to believe this email could be valid, contact the company directly. Ignore the contact information offered within this email! 

Don’t React When Rattled! 

Provoking panic is an age-old phishing technique. Unfortunately, it’s still in use today. Whether an email claims that your account teeters on the brink of closure, or that it is compromised (requiring your login information for verification), you must fight the temptation to respond immediately.

Take a breather, Be MINDFUL, Ask questions: 

“Does this email provoke anxiety?” 

“Does this message request a reasonable response?”

If not feeling 100% settled about an email, contact the sender company via venues outside of this email. And never, ever give personal information or account information to this source. 

Check out our blog on data backup and recovery to stay proactive in preventing any potential data loss!

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Exercise Caution With Links and Attachments

Red flags should blaze wildly on your radar if a random company sends an email with an attachment to your inbox. If the attachment's subject matter isn’t anticipated by you, then it probably isn’t safe.

How unsafe? This attachment might contain a malicious trojan or URL.

Click and boom: the virus or malware installation process begins. Scanning attachments (even legit ones) with anti-viral software keeps your PC or network secure. 

Cite Can Help Protect Your Data

Phishing emails pose a significant cybersecurity threat to individuals, businesses, and organizations worldwide. It is essential for recipients to exercise caution when interacting with email messages, especially those from unfamiliar or unexpected sources, and to implement robust security measures, such as spam filters, antivirus software, and employee training programs, to mitigate the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks.

As a managed IT service provider, here are some of the data backup and protection services CITE offers to help your company stay safe:

DATA BACKUP AND RECOVERY

  • Oversee, address issues, and validate your backups for a single monthly payment.

  • Receive daily emails to verify backup status

  • Protect your business from data loss, ransomware, employee error, etc.

  • Access to your files anytime you need them

  • Reliable and secure data transmission

  • Complete data recovery

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About Cite Technology

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Cite Technology Solutions strives to provide the very best in IT solutions.  From System Administration to Medical Imaging applications our team of integrators provides solutions.

We provide comprehensive IT solutions for small and mid-sized organizations with complex needs. Offering 24/7 Tech Support, Remote Support and Cloud Storage. We specialize in vendor IT management, VOIP, medical imaging, HL7 interfacing, and HIPAA compliance. Whether its remote access or at home, our team of IT Experts can assist.

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