It’s no secret we live in a digitally dependent age. With an increase in our reliance on data and digital communication also comes an increase in cyberattacks.
And it’s not just large businesses who have to worry about how to prevent phishing and data breaches. Small and medium-size businesses are just as much at risk—if not even more vulnerable—because many of these organizations are not prepared to defend and successfully recover from a cyberattack.
While businesses may be vulnerable to a variety of cyberattacks, most these days will come in the form of a fraudulent email or internet link. This type of cyberattack—called phishing—is a massive threat to organizations.
The good news? We can’t tell you how to stop phishing emails, but we can explain how it’s largely preventable with the right protections in place.
Phishing Prevention Solutions
Typical phishing emails can target hundreds to thousands of people at once, attempting to steal personal information from your employees or sensitive data from your business.
Once a phishing email has been sent and someone at your organization clicks on a fraudulent link within, your business’s data and information can be easily compromised by a cybercriminal.
Phishing is one of the most common and financially dangerous online crimes we’ve seen to date. But the savviest of organizations know what to look for, how to institute safeguards and where to focus their efforts.
Here are five phishing prevention solutions for small and medium-sized businesses looking to protect their data and employees from a cyberattack.
1. Extensive Employee Education: The Best Anti-Phishing Security
The greatest remedy to phishing prevention is to start with employee education.
Start by designing a rigorous user education program that not only helps your team members identify fraudulent emails, but also provides specific guidance for how to handle suspected phishing and test the users with simulated phishing attempts.
Spread regular awareness and send reoccurring reminders to employees to stay vigilant. With so much going on day-to-day and different priorities competing for your employees’ attention, having an educational program that keeps phishing prevention top-of-mind will yield the best results.
2. Phishing Prevention Best Practices: Avoid Public Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are often not encrypted and secure, which makes communicating via email on them risky for businesses interested in phishing attack prevention.
When your team members are working on a public network (such as at a hotel or coffee shop) with their corporate devices, it’s easy for a hacker to sniff out sensitive information (such as usernames, password and financial details).
If you or your employees are on the road and unable to use a private network, we recommend using a mobile device with hotspot connectivity. It’s much safer to work off a 4G/5G data connection than rely on an open public network.
3. Beware of Pop-Ups for Phishing Prevention
While phishing attacks are most common in email, they aren’t limited to email. Pop-ups can just as easily capture private information and redirect users to a fraudulent domain using Iframe technology.
However, not all pop-ups are phishing attacks. Some pop-ups can have a legitimate domain with valid Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and no desire to steal your information. So, how can you tell the difference between a benevolent pop-up on a respectable website and a phishing pop-up?
A good rule of thumb for phishing prevention is to use your cursor to hover over the link and preview the domain before you actually click on it. It’s also important to remember to never enter personal information on an unfamiliar website that isn’t secure. Established (non-phishing) websites rarely ask for a user to enter sensitive information, so if you are on one that does, be wary!
4. Invest in Anti-Phishing Security with Technology Solutions
Effectively preventing the many types of phishing attacks (email, file sharing, pop-ups, internet links, etc.) would require someone monitoring all these activities in real-time—which simply isn’t realistic for small and medium-sized businesses when it comes to available time and resources.
That’s why we recommend investing in anti-phishing technology that can work on phishing attack prevention for you, while you focus on running your business.
However, there are so many anti-phishing solutions these days that it can be overwhelming and tricky to determine which ones are right for you. On top of that, technology is constantly evolving and tools are always changing.
For these reasons, we also recommend partnering with an IT provider who can assess your current infrastructure, determine security needs and implement the proper technology. A good technology advisor will walk you through various anti-phishing security solutions for your specific business, such as multi-factor authentication, antivirus software, cloud-based security, data safeguards and backup best practices.
5. Complement Security Training with Best Practices like Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
In the past, multifactor authentication typically meant two-factor authentication, or 2FA, which involves using passwords and a second token, such as a pin number, email verification or a secondary code. This practice is very common. In fact, if you’ve ever logged into an online account and have been asked to send a SMS code to your phone or secondary email address to verify your identity, you’ve experienced multifactor authentication.
However, today as cybercriminals become more sophisticated, businesses that are concerned about how to prevent phishing are relying on multifactor authentication security technologies that require different kinds of authentication methods, usually from more than two sources.
For instance, newer multifactor authentication combines two or more independent credentials from these categories: something you know (think favorite ice cream flavor); something you have (like a key fob or application on a mobile phone); and something you are (such as a thumbprint or other type of biometric).
Cybercriminals typically cannot access these additional identifying factors. Even if they are able to steal a user’s password, this type of phishing-resistant MFA is very effective in foiling attacks.
Keep in mind that the technology is only as effective as the user. Making MFA a part of your employees’ security awareness training is good but making employees aware of phishing tactics so that they aren’t susceptible in the first place is still the first line of defense.
Learn More About Phishing Prevention
While phishing is a serious matter for all businesses, there are many steps that you can take to reduce your cyber risk.
Warren Averett Technology Group offers a comprehensive phishing prevention solution that is deployed on all computers throughout your network. Our solution uses artificial intelligence to detect and remove known and unknown attacks to help prevent phishing emails from ever reaching your inbox.
If you’re looking to protect your business against cyberattacks, connect with a Warren Averett Technology Group expert to learn more.