5 phishing prevention best practices for businesses to adopt that can greatly reduce exposure to phishing attacks, stop them from succeeding, and limit the harm that can be caused.
The Growing Threat of Phishing
Phishing is a growing threat and one that results in many costly business data breaches. Phishing is a form of social engineering that is used to trick people into taking certain actions that benefit the phisher. Those actions could be opening an email attachment that contains a malicious script that downloads malware, visiting a website that harvests account credentials, or convincing an employee to make a fraudulent wire transfer or tricking them into sending an email containing sensitive company or employee information.
Analyses of cyberattacks have shown that phishing is often the first step in the attack and provides the initial access to networks required for an extensive compromise. Many ransomware attacks start with a phishing email, and some of the largest ever data breaches have started with phishing. The 78.8 million-record data breach at the U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc. in 2015 was traced back to a response from an employee at an affiliated company to a spear phishing email.
Phishing attacks have increased in volume significantly in recent years, and they are now being conducted in record numbers. Phishing has also grown more sophisticated. Not long ago it was easy to spot a phishing email. They were often littered with spelling mistakes and poor grammar, and commonly tricked people with too-good-to-be-true offers. Today, those campaigns are still conducted, but there is a new breed of phishing emails that are much more difficult to spot. Brands are expertly impersonated, very convincing ploys are used to trick people, and cybercriminals and nation-state cyber attackers are getting better at evading anti-phishing technology. Fortunately, by adhering to the following phishing prevention best practices, businesses will be well protected from these malicious attacks.
Phishing Prevention Best Practices All Businesses Should Follow
All of the phishing prevention best practices below are important, with each tackling the threat of phishing differently. Applying all these measures will create layered defenses against attacks. That means that if any single part of your phishing defenses fails to block a threat, others will be in place to prevent a network intrusion and data breach.
Use an Email Security Solution to Block Phishing Threats
The most important technical measure to block phishing threats is an email security solution such as a spam filter. These solutions are gateways through which all emails must pass, where emails are scrutinized for signs of phishing, malicious code, scams, and social engineering. Look for an email security solution with machine learning predictive capabilities for detecting new threats and that is capable of behavioral analysis of email attachments for detecting novel malware threats. Ensure you also have outbound scanning to identify compromised email accounts and for data loss prevention.
Provide Security Awareness Training for Employees to Teach Them How to Recognize Phishing Attempts
Security awareness training for employees is often undervalued, but it can make a huge difference to a company’s security posture and is an essential element of phishing prevention. Use a training platform with gamified, interactive content to maximize employee engagement and train employees on how to recognize the signs of phishing. Use an email client plug-in for one-click reporting of threats and encourage employees to report all suspicious emails. Train continuously using short training modules of up to 10 minutes. This will be more effective than a long, annual training course.
Conduct Phishing Simulations on the Workforce
Before training, conduct a simulated phishing campaign on your workforce. You can use the click rates and other metrics as a baseline against which you can measure improvements over time. Regularly conduct phishing simulations to identify employees who fall for phishing emails and provide them with further training. Over time, susceptibility to phishing attacks will be greatly reduced as employees get practice at identifying and reporting phishing threats.
Use a Web Filter to Prevent Access to Malicious Websites
Phishing often has an Internet element. Links in emails direct users to a website where they are asked to disclose sensitive information, or to direct them to websites where malware is downloaded. A web filter is used to prevent access to these malicious sites. Web filters can also be configured to block software downloads and DNS-based web filters can prevent abuse of the DNS and block command-and-control center callbacks by malware.
Set Up Multifactor Authentication to Prevent Misuse of Credentials
Multifactor authentication is used as a last resort when phishing prevention mechanisms have failed. If employees disclose their credentials in a phishing attack, multifactor authentication will prevent those credentials from being used to access accounts. Multifactor authentication can also block credentials stuffing attacks and other brute force attempts to gain access to accounts.
Speak To TitanHQ About Phishing Prevention
TitanHQ has been helping businesses improve their defenses against cyberattacks for more than 20 years. TitanHQ offers three phishing prevention solutions for businesses and managed service providers that can individually and collectively greatly improve phishing defenses:
- SpamTitan Email Security
- SafeTitan Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulator
- WebTitan DNS Filter
For more information on these solutions, details of pricing, to arrange a product demonstration, and to receive assistance setting up a free trial of these solutions, give the TitanHQ team a call today.