What is a Phishing attack?
A phishing attack is a scam by which an internet user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information, which the scammer can use illicitly. This can include passwords and credit card numbers which should be well protected.
An email phishing attack is a fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals or organizations to reveal their personal or confidential information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, which the scammer can use illicitly. This can be done through emails or sometimes social channels.
The process of investigating phishing emails is a tedious process but it’s always important because phishing growth possess a significant threat to all organizations and internet users.
This article covers the steps of how to investigate and stop email phishing attacks. Although phishing seems an old practice, knowing the techniques for preventing them is important to all internet users.
Attackers normally identify their targets using the information on various websites and use spoofed addresses to send emails that could plausibly look like they are coming from co-workers or reputable companies. Email phishing prevention may seem overwhelming because these attackers dedicate much time and energy to trick their victims, whom they select because their potential rewards are quite high.
However, because companies rely heavily on emails as a major mode of communication while carrying out their daily operations, it’s crucial to know how to investigate phishing emails so as to be on the safe side and ensure optimal email phishing prevention.
Stages involved in the phishing attack investigation process;
1. Be on the lookout for spoofed emails:
Without knowing how to prevent phishing attacks and spoofing, the bad guys will always be a step ahead. It’s advisable to always examine closely the domain name of the “reputable” sender for any misspelling issues from the well-known true one.
Although every domain name must be unique, there are plenty of ways to create addresses that are indistinguishable from the ones that are being spoofed. For example, one can use the domain name ‘initialnedia.com’ to spoof ‘initialmedia.com’.
Individuals or employees in an organization should be educated on phishing tactics, and should also avoid careless and naive internet browsing, as this is among the phishing attack prevention best practices.
2. Be on the lookout for suspicious emails:
Apart from the misspelling of the domain name, the attackers will mostly use a public email domain. With exception of independent workers, every organization will have its own email domain and company accounts. The best phishing attack protection step to take when one suspects the public domain is to look at the email address and not the sender and to type the company’s name into search engines.
Important to note, is that when crooks create their bogus email addresses, they often have the choice to select the display name, which doesn’t have to relate to the email address at all. They can therefore use a bogus email address that will turn up in your inbox with a display name of a reputable company.
If one receives an email from a known source but it seems suspicious, it’s best to contact the source with a new email, rather than just hitting the reply button.
3. To stop a Phishing attack, Avoid clicking any hyperlinks on the email:
Sometimes, emails are coded entirely as a hyperlink. Therefore, clicking accidentally or deliberately anywhere in the email will open a fake page, or download spam into the target’s computer. When a re-direction to another website occurs, it’s advisable to cancel the operation.
Detecting phishing attacks may sometimes involve a trial and error-method, but it’s always important for one to be on the lookout for any suspicious hyperlinks.
4. Treat emails with grammar and spelling errors as spam to stop a phishing attack:
One other step how to investigate phishing emails is to look out for any poor spelling and grammar. Many people will think that such errors are part of a ‘filtering system’ in which cyber criminals target only the most gullible targets.
However, the theory is that if someone ignores clues about the way the message is written, they’re less likely to pick up clues during the scammer’s endgame. Legit companies know how to spell well so the attackers prey on the uneducated, believing them to be less observant, and this makes them easy targets since the chances of them believing the rest of their con game is high.
5. Sure way to stop a Phishing attack: Avoid opening any attachments unless sure of the sender:
The one thing that phishing emails have in common is they contain a payload. This may mostly be an infected attachment or a link to a bogus website that requests login and other sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers. Legit companies will never request sensitive information via emails or send a login link. They will mostly call by name and probably direct one to contact them by phone. A sure advisable way how to stop phishing emails is never to open attachments unless one is fully confident that the message is from a legitimate party, or contact the sender and ask them to verify that it’s legitimate.
Since parsing out any different indicators of a phishing attack to determine its legitimacy takes time and can be quite mind-numbing for large organizations or individuals receiving constant threats, phishing prevention software is available; which automates the process of how to mitigate a phishing attack.
Final Words on Email Phishing Attack
Educating the employees is one way how to mitigate a phishing attack since they possess credentials and overall knowledge that is critical to the success of a breach of the company’s security. In order to outsmart the bad guys, employees need to learn how to investigate phishing emails, and although it’s hard to distinguish a fake email from a verified one, most have subtle hints of their scam nature.