5 Ways to Protect Your Business from COVID-19 Phishing Scams
September 21, 2020
When business cycles are disrupted, work from home is common, online purchases are the norm and cybercriminals come out with more aggressive tactics to steal your money and data. It is alarming to know that there has been a 300% rapid increase in cyber-attacks during COVID-19, and phishing scams constitute a significant portion of these online crimes.
The increasing threat of cybercrime means that businesses need to stay hyper-vigilant to ensure business security and privacy. The loss of usernames, private data, and financial information can cause serious challenges for businesses.
Worried? You should be, but don’t lose hope. You can always take measures to protect your business from phishing scams. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular measures for protection against Phishing Scams:
1. Notice the Red Flags
Since employees are working from home, even corner table discussions are now happening digitally. It isn’t strange to get a few more unverified emails than normal. Therefore, getting trapped by a phishing email is more probable these days. Employees are more likely to open an unknown email during COVID because they are more likely to believe it’s an authentic email from a colleague or friend.
Hence, it would be best if you stay vigilant and double-check the information before clicking on unknown links. Look for obvious red flags to suss out scammers. The most common signs of phishing emails include:
- Common grammatical mistakes,
- Strange email addresses
Furthermore, uncommon tactics, too good to be true offers, and “better now” emails are suspicious. Don’t take risks. If you are unsure about the credibility of an email, double-check it to confirm the authenticity of the sender before you proceed.
2. Focus on Employee Training
No matter what cybercriminals are up to, if you have a well-trained staff, no one can scam your business. Remote working is a first-time experience for many employees, so they may become easy victims of phishing scams. However, if employees are well-trained in recognizing phishing scams, they can easily differentiate between real and scam emails.
For instance, Carpet Cleaning told us that they held zoom classes to train employees for protection against cyber-attacks early on in the pandemic to protect client data. The trainer showed samples of common scam messages so employees could identify phishing attempts. They also created a confidential email for inter-departmental communication to report phishing attempts immediately.
Moreover, train your employees to refrain from using public Wi-Fi and close all unnecessary tabs while working on sensitive data. Encryption is also important; therefore, be sure to educate your employees to install the most effective antivirus. Keeping it updated is even more important. Maintaining a security system is mandatory to remind the team about security issues. You can use Microsoft Teams, a reliable platform for communication.
Also, remind employees to call the sender before sending any sensitive information. In urgent cases or any suspicious activity, employees should know the procedure to report.
3. Stay Protected with Email Protective Tools
Another great way of protecting your company from phishing scams is to use email protective tools and settings. Avoid the risk of losing your crucial information by employing protective features. These features help by automatically encrypting your emails, thereby making it almost impossible for scammers to hack the email. Whether the data is at rest or in transit, the protective features will play their role and protect your data.
You can use Microsoft Outlook and stay safe with its dynamic filtering features. You can easily set the junk list filter to low or high, automatic filtering or safe list. Apart from that, you will also get a reminder before opening any suspicious messages. These messages are generated through the domain names of email addresses.
4. Password Protection and Access Management
Setting strong passwords is another great way to stay safe from hackers. Make sure that your password is a combination of letters, symbols, digits, and letters. If you need passwords at multiple locations and have trouble remembering them, be sure to use a password manager instead of keeping one password for everything.
Besides this, use multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA select restricts certain locations from which your account can be accessed for higher security.
Phishing scams are not just limited to personal exploitation; if someone gets a hold of your business accounts, they can steal your money, client information, and gain business secrets. Thus, two-layer protection, access management, and password protection are vital for your business security.
5. Website Verification and Financial Information
Scammers will keep doing their job, but we have to make it hard for them. Rather than jumping at the lottery-winning messages and quickly downloading the unverified links, take a few minutes to verify the website and sender. Similarly, if you have visited a certain link and it’s demanding your financial information, never give it.
Be sure to verify a website before giving any information. Make a rule that financial information will never be shared via email. If it is a call, be sure that you are the person initiating it.
Wrapping It Up
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 phishing scams are booming with each passing day. There is a dire need to take appropriate measures for business protection in this critical time. From small measures to full protection, a company needs to take serious steps to thwart scams. When business cycles are already disrupted, loss of sensitive information can result in a complete downfall. Thus, you need to stay alert to these phishing scams and guide your team accordingly.
Provide appropriate training, show examples of previous scams, choose a wise email service provider that can send alert messages on suspicious acts, set a dual-authentication system, set strong passwords, and always verify the sender before sharing any business details. If you pay attention to these useful tips, you are more likely to stay safe from the malicious acts of cybercriminals.
If you suspect some illicit activity on your account, quickly log out from all of your accounts and change the passwords. Additionally, have a look at your login details and see if there have been any more logins that are different from your timeline. Don’t be lazy in checking your financial accounts. Go through the transactions and quickly report if there are some odd ones to make sure nothing is amiss. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Shireen Inc.
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July 21, 2021