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10 Phishing Prevention Tips (and Helpful Solutions)

Jericho Security Contributor

April 16, 2024

Alt image text:  A woman in business attire sitting at a table, holding a pen with her laptop open and smiling at the camera

In today’s digital age, protecting your organization from phishing attacks is a must. Artificial intelligence is rapidly advancing the sophistication of phishing attacks, and keeping pace with these threats is essential to preserve the integrity of your (and your organization’s) personal data.  

However, all is not lost. From security awareness training to AI-powered phishing testing, there are straightforward ways that you can guard against phishing attacks. 

This is where Jericho Security can help. From helping you to recognize suspicious emails to implementing strong verification processes, our AI-enhanced strategies are a straightforward yet powerful approach to security. 

In this article, we’ll outline phishing and how to prevent it. Follow our list of 10 phishing prevention tips to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals and secure your digital domain.

What is phishing?

 Image with the word “phishing” in the center front, with a background of black and white binary code decor

Phishing is a cyberattack in which criminals posing as trustworthy entities trick individuals into sharing personal or sensitive data online. These attacks may use emails, text messages, or websites to try to steal information, including passwords, credit card details, identifying information, or company secrets.

In the United States, phishing impacts businesses across the board, with phishing attacks accounting for nearly 90% of all data breaches. Small businesses, often thought to be less likely targets, face a particularly high risk. In 2021, 61% of SMBs were targeted by a cyberattack, with many of these attacks being phishing attempts. Since generative AI took the world by storm in 2022 with the release of ChatGPT, the threat has significantly increased.

These attacks not only lead to direct financial losses but also operational disruptions, data breaches, and loss of customer trust. For smaller organizations, the consequences can be especially dire, with many reporting that they could not continue operating if hit with ransomware. These outcomes underscore why it’s essential to not only understand how phishing works but also what types you may have to contend with.

How does phishing work?

A traditional phishing approach works by sending fake messages that appear legitimate to prompt you to complete an action. For example, an email might mimic correspondence from your bank and ask you to update your account details via a link leading to a fraudulent website. Or, a text message claiming you've won a contest from a well-known brand might urge you to claim your prize through a deceptive link. Upon clicking these links, the phisher is able to harvest your personal information, steal your money, or gain remote access to your device via the installation of malware. 

How has AI changed phishing?

With generative AI, phishing attacks have become more sophisticated, making it even more difficult to discern between legitimate and malicious messages. This means that traditional signs of phishing—such as generic greetings or obvious spelling mistakes—may no longer be reliable indicators of fraud. Phishing emails can address you by name, reference recent transactions accurately, or mimic the exact format of emails from entities you trust, making the fraudulent nature of these communications harder to detect.

The threat extends beyond email to text messages, social media messages, and even phone calls, where AI-generated voices can impersonate known contacts or authorities. Imagine receiving a phone call from what sounds like a family member in distress or a message from your boss asking for urgent action via a link that leads to a phishing site. The possibilities for deception are vast and require a new level of vigilance.

Spam phishing vs. targeted phishing

It’s important to note the difference between two main types of phishing: spam phishing and targeted phishing. 

Spam phishing involves sending mass emails to a wide audience. These emails often pretend to be from reputable companies and ask recipients to provide sensitive information or click on malicious links. The goal is to catch a few unsuspecting individuals in a wide net.

Targeted phishing, also known as spear phishing, involves carefully crafted emails sent to specific individuals or organizations. Attackers spend time researching their targets to make messages more convincing. This method is more labor-intensive but tends to have a higher success rate because of its personalized approach.

Recognizing the signs of phishing and understanding the differences between spam and targeted attempts are key steps in protecting yourself and your organization from these cyber threats.

Who is at risk of phishing attacks?

From individuals to large organizations, everyone with an online presence is at risk of phishing attacks. For example:

  • Personal users might receive emails that threaten to close their bank or credit card accounts unless they verify their details, while businesses are targets for attackers looking to infiltrate their systems or steal sensitive data. 
  • Employees might receive urgent messages that appear to come from their superiors, asking for password changes or confirmation of personal information.

As cyber attackers employ increasingly sophisticated methods (including AI) to craft realistic and convincing phishing emails, the need for employee training has never been more critical. It's vital that your team can identify and respond to these advanced threats.

Jericho Security offers specialized training programs designed to equip your employees with the knowledge and tools they need to protect your organization. By understanding the latest in phishing tactics, your staff will be better prepared to recognize and mitigate potential threats. Security awareness training equips you to build a resilient and informed workforce capable of defending against the most current and emerging threats.

Types of phishing attacks to watch out for

A woman dressed in business attire pointing to a laptop screen while explaining something to a male colleague also dressed in business attire. 

As cyber threats evolve, staying informed about the various types of phishing attacks becomes essential. From deceptive emails to AI-driven voice phishing, understanding these tactics is the first step in safeguarding your information. 

Here are a few types of phishing attacks to be aware of:

Phishing emails

Phishing emails are deceptive messages designed to trick recipients into giving away personal information or installing malware. These emails often imitate legitimate sources, such as banks, social media platforms, or official agencies, to create a sense of urgency or fear. Well-known examples include: 

  • Emails that claim your account has been compromised and invite you to click a link to reset your password.
  • Messages that appear to be from a delivery service and ask you to confirm your address details via an attached link.
  • Emails that appear to come from PayPal indicate that your account will be deactivated unless you confirm their credit card details through the link provided.
  • Fake Google Docs login requests accompanied by a message like “We’ve updated our login credential policy. Please confirm your account by logging into Google Docs.” 

With the introduction of AI, these deceptive practices have become even more sophisticated. AI can analyze vast amounts of data to craft messages that are more convincing than ever. To combat these advanced threats, Jericho Security offers training and solutions tailored to the modern cybersecurity environment. We can help individuals and businesses recognize and respond appropriately to phishing attempts, helping your sensitive information remain protected. 

Domain spoofing

Domain spoofing involves creating a website or sending emails that mimic a legitimate site's domain name, tricking users into thinking they're interacting with a real entity. This method is often used to deceive people into entering personal information on sites that look nearly identical to those they trust.

AI can automate the creation of fake websites, making them look and feel more authentic. It can also generate domain names that are visually similar to genuine ones, making it harder for users to recognize fraudulent websites. Examples include ‘google.org.com’ instead of ‘google.com.’ Attackers may also use Unicode characters that look almost identical to ASCII characters to trick their targets.

Social media phishing

Social media phishing occurs when attackers create fake social media profiles or pages that imitate legitimate individuals or organizations. These fake accounts can then be used to spread misinformation, scam people, or gather personal information. Well-known examples include fake profiles pretending to be celebrities offering giveaways or fake corporate accounts announcing non-existent job openings. 

AI technologies can automate the generation of posts, messages, and interactions that mimic human behavior and make spoofed accounts seem more legitimate. It can also create deep fake videos or voice messages that are incredibly realistic, making it harder to tell when you’re dealing with a cybercriminal.

SMS phishing

SMS phishing – also known as smishing – involves sending text messages that trick recipients into revealing personal information or downloading malware. One well-known example is a text message claiming to be from a postal service with a link to track a package that never arrives. These messages prey on urgency and fear to prompt immediate action.

By analyzing vast datasets, AI algorithms can generate highly personalized text messages, making them appear more legitimate. For example, an AI system could craft a message that references a recent purchase or an actual package you're expecting, increasing the likelihood that you'll trust the message and respond. 

Voice phishing

Voice phishing, or vishing, uses phone calls or voice messages to deceive people into revealing sensitive information or sending money to fraudsters. Callers posing as bank officials, tax agents, or tech support will claim there's an urgent issue that requires your immediate attention and personal details to resolve.

AI technology can use speech synthesis and voice cloning to mimic the voices of real individuals, such as a family member or employer. This makes the fraudulent communication much more convincing. For instance, an AI could generate a call that sounds exactly like your company's CEO, asking you to wire funds urgently for a confidential deal. Jericho Security offers training and resources to help you recognize these scams – before you’ve responded. 

Clone phishing

With clone phishing, the attacker replaces a legitimate link or attachment in an email with a malicious one before sending it. These emails look like they're from a trusted service you use, such as a utility company. The link, however, directs you to a phishing site designed to steal your information.

Cybercriminals are using AI to analyze patterns in the communication styles between you and your contacts or frequently used services. It can determine which types of messages you're most likely to trust and respond to, and then generate clone phishing attempts that perfectly mimic these interactions. This precision targeting makes clone phishing one of the most deceptive forms of phishing attacks.

Now that we've reviewed the different tricks scammers use, we're going to share 10 phishing prevention tips to help you avoid these traps. 

10 phishing prevention tips to help combat spam

Multicultural team of business people collaborating at a table with laptops

There are strategies you can incorporate into your daily routine to significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. Here are some phishing protection tips to help you stay safe online: 

Use common sense

Trust your instinct. If an email, text, or call feels off, it probably is. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to provoke a quick response. Pause and think before you react to unexpected requests, especially those asking for immediate action.

Don’t provide sensitive information to unsolicited requests

Legitimate organizations will never ask for your personal details, like passwords or social security numbers, via email or text. Always verify the identity of the requester through official channels before sharing any information.

Don’t open attachments in suspect emails

Malicious attachments are a common way for hackers to spread malware. If an email comes from an unknown sender or seems suspicious, do not open any included attachments. When in doubt, contact the sender directly through a known, secure method to confirm the email's authenticity.

Keep your security tight and updated

Ensure that your antivirus software is current and that all your devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches. Regular updates provide critical protection against new threats and vulnerabilities, making it harder for attackers to breach your defenses. If your organization needs support, consider investing in modern security training to train your employees how to spot and respond to phishing attempts. 

Never click embedded URLs

Instead of clicking on links in emails, go to the website directly by typing the URL into your browser. If it’s a site you’ve bookmarked, access it that way. This practice helps avoid malicious websites designed to steal your information. If you must click a link, hover over it first to see where it leads. However, be aware that this isn’t a foolproof tactic – some phishing schemes can disguise malicious links.

Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is like having a double lock on your door. Instead of just using a password, you also need another key, like a fingerprint or a code sent to your phone, to get into your accounts. This makes it much harder for someone else to access your information if they figure out your password. It's an extra step, but can help keep your information safe online.

Back up your data

Regularly backing up your data ensures that you can restore your information if it's ever compromised or lost due to a cyber attack. Use reliable external drives or cloud storage services for these backups. Having multiple backup options can also help; for instance, you might keep a physical backup on an external drive and another in the cloud. This strategy ensures that you're not left scrambling if one backup method fails or if you can't access your cloud storage immediately following a cyber attack.

Don’t be intimidated by alarming messages

Phishers often use scare tactics, like threats of account closure, to manipulate their targets into acting hastily. Take a moment to assess the situation calmly and skeptically, especially when faced with urgent or threatening demands. No reputable organization will force you to make important decisions or disclose sensitive information so quickly, so always verify the authenticity of the message by contacting the organization directly through official channels.

Learn more about AI-generated content

As AI becomes a tool for creating more convincing phishing attempts, educating yourself about these techniques is essential. Jericho Security offers training opportunities that can help you and your teams understand and recognize AI-generated content, arming you with the knowledge to spot sophisticated scams. By better understanding AI-driven threats, you can resist or avoid the increasingly clever tactics employed by cybercriminals.

Report any phishing attempts to your supervisor

If you encounter a phishing attempt, reporting it to your supervisor or another manager helps your organization take action to prevent further attacks. Sharing information about the attempt with your colleagues can also alert others to the threat and improve the collective defense against cybercriminals.

Jericho Security can teach you how to phish—and protect your data

 A group of four business professionals sitting around a table with a laptop placed on it.

With phishing attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated due to AI, staying one step ahead is more critical than ever. Jericho Security is at the forefront of this battle, using AI to combat AI-driven threats. With our proprietary analytics and educational frameworks, we're not simply responding to attacks—we're anticipating them, ensuring your cyber defenses are robust against developing threats.

Our hyper-realistic and personalized phishing simulations, combined with our customized security awareness training, help equip your employees with the critical skills needed to identify and neutralize phishing attempts. 

Ready to fortify your digital defenses and ensure your team is equipped to face today’s cybersecurity challenges? Contact Jericho Security today to schedule a demo. Let's build a more secure digital future for your organization.

 

Jericho Security Contributor

April 16, 2024

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Alt image text:  A woman in business attire sitting at a table, holding a pen with her laptop open and smiling at the camera

News

10 Phishing Prevention Tips (and Helpful Solutions)

Jericho Security Contributor

April 16, 2024

Alt image text:  A woman in business attire sitting at a table, holding a pen with her laptop open and smiling at the camera

News

10 Phishing Prevention Tips (and Helpful Solutions)

Jericho Security Contributor

April 16, 2024

Alt image text:  A woman in business attire sitting at a table, holding a pen with her laptop open and smiling at the camera

News

10 Phishing Prevention Tips (and Helpful Solutions)

Jericho Security Contributor

April 16, 2024

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