In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, businesses face an ever-present and growing threat: phishing attacks. These devious schemes exploit human vulnerabilities to compromise sensitive data, disrupt operations, and tarnish reputations.
It's crucial for companies to not only recognise the risks but also implement effective prevention strategies to safeguard their assets. Dive into the all common example below, a UK-based SME that experienced a spear-phishing attack, and uncover the essential triad of defence against cyber criminals: vigilance, processes, and training. By embracing these principles and nurturing a security-conscious culture, businesses can successfully outmanoeuvre phishing attacks and ensure their digital fortress remains unreachable.
The Anatomy of a Spear Phishing Attack: Company A's Close Call
Company A is a UK-based SME that recently experienced a spear phishing attack that targeted only new starters. The attacker obtained the new starters' contact details by searching for new employees at the company on LinkedIn and then guessing their email account structure of email@example.com by looking at the About Us page on their website.
The attacker then sent a social engineering email that appeared to be from a senior manager asking for the employee to message them on WhatsApp urgently. The email contained a mobile number for them to use. Of course, the attacker explained that they could not talk on the phone as they were at a conference with clients. You know the pattern.
The email was convincing enough that one of the new starters messaged the attacker over WhatsApp. This led to them being directed to purchase £450 of Amazon gift cards from their local supermarket and send them photos of the codes. It was only after a new request to buy a further batch of gift cards that the member of staff contacted their line manager for a new payment method that this was uncovered as a scam.
Now, happy ending, the staff member reported the scam to the police, the bank refunded them, and there was no reputational/operational damage caused to the company. On the grand scale of things, having several hundred pounds extorted is very minor. The money was a very small amount, no company data, IP or assets were exfiltrated, and the company's reputation is protected.
Understanding the Breach: Why Phishing Emails Slip Through the Cracks
Talking with their Ops team after the threat had been reviewed, the first question was “How did this get through?”. Naturally, if you provide Managed Services to a business, they can feel like they have been let down by their security tools and service providers. They presume that this is either a fault of their own security technology or a super sophisticated inside job. In the trade, we know the reality.
Phishing e-mails like this aren’t always detected. They are straightforward to manufacture convincing and enticing lures with little time spent researching a company online using freely available information.
Okay, fair enough. The next question is usually an exasperated “Well, what can we do to stop this from happening again?!”. And here is where you can add some value to your clients by framing the importance of vigilance, processes and training.
Cultivate a vigilant workplace where assumptions are not made, and anything unusual or out of the ordinary is treated with suspicion.
Introduce or retrain your staff on processes for things such as making payments, communication channels and data sharing, such as requiring face-to-face or video call signoffs. This is vital for your most vulnerable team members and brand-new starters – something Company A’s experience can vouch for.
Regularly train your team on these values and make them a part of your culture. Not just once but regularly throughout the year. You can help them succeed here by providing access to tools that run internal phishing campaigns to test employees and identify risky departments and users.
Safeguarding Your Digital Future: A Phishing Defense Action Plan
In conclusion, phishing attacks persist as a significant threat to businesses of all sizes, making it essential to prioritise security measures to safeguard against these cybercrimes. By cultivating a vigilant workplace, implementing robust processes, and investing in regular training, companies can minimise the risks associated with phishing and secure their digital assets. Don't leave your business vulnerable to cybercriminals—take action now to bolster your defences and fortify your digital fortress.
Are you ready to enhance your company's cybersecurity posture?
Contact our team of experts today to discuss tailored solutions designed to empower your employees and shield your organisation from phishing attacks. Together, we can build a resilient digital environment where your business can confidently thrive. Get in touch with us now and start your journey towards a phishing-proof future!