The Financial Impact Phishing Can Have on You and Your Business

Although not all businesses take phishing attacks seriously, they are becoming more of a threat each year. There are many reasons why they occur but the primary goal is that they want something from the business. Phishing allows criminals to go after thousands of users to gain financial information, trade secrets, or other financially beneficial information. In fact, phishing statistics estimate that businesses lose half a billion dollars a year from attacks.

How It Works

While methods can vary, the first step is usually a phishing email that’s sent to a large collection of addresses. Mass mailings can be sent from devices that belong to botnets. Often these emails are well written and at least a few employees may click on a link in the email body or download an attachment on the email.

If the employee clicks on the link, they will probably be redirected to a page that resembles a legitimate company. The most common companies that are impersonated include banks, online payment services, and even social networking websites. On this site, the employee may then fill out a form or download a file. If the employee downloads an email attachment, they will likely be installing a Trojan that will contain some sort of malware.

Impact on Businesses

Although phishing attacks are often aimed at individuals they can be used to attack businesses as well. When phishers decide to launch an attack, they have to hijack a well-known and legitimate brand. They’ll set up a landing page that closely resembles the web page of a trusted brand. This makes it easy to convince individuals to respond to the email.

The brands that they impersonate are casualties and often disclosed on social media or news outlets. This kind of publicity is extremely harmful to the brand image and can lead to your customers avoiding your legitimate websites to avoid being caught in a scam. Businesses can lose millions of dollars from even one phishing scam.

Unfortunately, the people who are redirected to the brand’s website that has been faked are likely going to be customers of that organization. They will probably lose confidence in your brand and may even decide to seek out a competitor. If they become victims of the scam and have their personal identity stolen, they could even decide to file a lawsuit. Overall, this type of action is harmful to the company.

Defending against Phishing

Although phishing attacks are detrimental to a business, there are steps to take to provide adequate protection. One of the key steps is to educate users. All employees of the company should be educated on how to recognize and avoid phishing emails. Employees are more than likely going to be the first people to receive phishing emails. They should be trained to determine when an email is suspicious.

There are many signs that can be recognized fairly easily. Asking for personal information or generic salutations are the first signs. Emails with attachments that aren’t expected are also a sign for concern. Messages that appear to be emotional and have heightened emotions in them should be noted. Finally, any sender that is not familiar is a red flag. Providing employee training throughout the year is a good way to counteract the most common phishing attacks.

Conclusion

Although user education is essential for businesses, keep in mind that this is not the only solution. Companies must stay on the alert for any new techniques and tactics that phishers are using today. With the proper precautions, businesses can provide good training to their employees and decrease their likelihood of being a victim to phishing.

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