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Phishing attacks are one of the most common methods by which companies and individuals are exposed to cybercrime. While many of us might consider that we’re savvy enough not to be taken in by these threats, the evolving dynamics used by such criminals means that their success rate continues to be something that should concern everyone.

The following discusses the dangers of phishing attacks and why companies should take this ongoing threat very seriously indeed.

The Art of Deception

  •     The dangers of phishing attacks: 4 psychological tricks

The dangers of phishing attacks: 4 psychological tricks

Phishing is defined by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as, “A scam that encompasses fraudulently obtaining and using an individual’s personal or financial information.” The most common method of targeting victims is in the form of an email (or perhaps an SMS, What’s App, or other forms of instant messaging) with the sole intention of causing the recipient to follow a link.

Phishing attacks have become more sophisticated over the years, with the now defined “spear-phishing” targeting specific groups of people or individuals that are carried out after extensive research. This level of attack is highly targeted and follows deliberate social engineering so the perpetrators can strike the very chords necessary to encourage their victim/s to engage.

This is managed by the use of 4 strategic psychological tricks:

  1.     Familiarity: This could be engineered through phone calls, emails, messages, etc. For example, you receive an email that details a new password requirement policy. This might be followed up by another and then a call to determine if you’ve complied with the requests.
  2.     Validation: Following receipt of a phishing email, an attacker might get in contact pretending to be from the sender, who is a business source known to the victim. They then discuss the offending email, attempting to validate that it is legitimate and that it’s necessary to click on the link it contains.
  3.     Reciprocity: Communication via email, a call, or even live chat via a fake website, to assist the victim with a problem is becoming more widely employed. Once they’ve “helped” and the problem has been dealt with, the attacker then attempts to get you to reciprocate and hand over the information they require.
  4.     Urgency: The use of links that state accounts will be disabled if not followed, or that an account has been compromised and it’s necessary to follow a link immediately to prevent further damage.

Such manipulation takes advantage of a range of emotions to get victims to act in the required manner. These included curiosity, fear, and gullibility.

The Lasting Dangers of Phishing Attacks

  •     Brand damage
  •     Minimizing risk

Brand damage

Companies can suffer permanent damage to their brand after such attacks. Customers lose trust that their credentials are safe and move to alternative providers. Large-scale phishing attacks often make headlines, leading to further losses as potential new clients consider their competitors to be a more secure option.

When you add the risk of lawsuits if a company is proven negligent, as well as other more immediate out of pocket expenses, it becomes clear that stringent cybersecurity steps need to be put in place and continually assessed to ensure robust measures against such attacks.

Minimizing risk

The key to minimizing the risk of a wide-scale or targeted phishing attack on your business is large-scale monitoring. This means keeping a close eye on any way that a scammer could impersonate your brand or methods of communication. Social medial, data feeds, websites, emails, forums, etc. are all areas that need to be continually scrutinized. The task is extensive but can be simplified through the use of technology, such as pattern matching and machine learning analytics.

For companies that don’t have the expertise or resources for a dedicated cybersecurity department, this is best outsourced—both for effectiveness and value for money.

Contact Fast Guard Service for the Ultimate Phishing and Cyber Security Defense

The benefits of professional cybersecurity for companies of all sizes can’t be overstated. Whether you need an overview to ensure your defenses are robust or a complete cybersecurity management service, Fast Guard’s specialists are known around the world for their high levels of expertise.

To find out how Fast Guard can provide the maximum level of online security for your company needs, visit //