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Cyber threats are constantly evolving, with phishing continuing to be one of the most prevalent and dangerous tactics used by cybercriminals. Understanding and learning about phishing is crucial because it protects sensitive information, prevents financial loss, and maintains the integrity and reputation of your business.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of cyber-attack in which attackers impersonate a legitimate entity or person in order to steal sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal details. Consequently, these deceptive tactics can lead to significant security breaches and personal losses. This is typically done through email, instant messaging, or social media.

Latest Phishing Techniques

Phishing techniques are becoming more sophisticated, and attackers are constantly finding new ways to deceive users. Here are some of the latest tactics we’ve observed:

  • File Download Scams
    • The Tactic: Recently, we’ve seen an increase in phishing attempts where attackers send a seemingly legitimate message prompting you to download a file. This file could be a PDF, Word document, or even an image.
    • The Danger: Once downloaded and opened, these files can install malware on your device or direct you to a fake login page to steal your credentials.
    • How to Avoid: Always verify the sender’s email address and be wary of unexpected file attachments. If in doubt, contact the sender through a different communication channel to confirm the legitimacy of the message.
  • Spoofed Websites
    • The Tactic: Attackers create websites that mimic legitimate ones to trick users into entering their personal information.
    • The Danger: These websites often look identical to the real ones, making it hard to spot the difference.
    • How to Avoid: Check the URL carefully. Look for slight misspellings or extra characters. Always ensure the site uses HTTPS, indicated by a padlock icon in the address bar.
  • Urgent Action Required
    • The Tactic: Phishers send emails that create a sense of urgency, such as account suspension warnings, unpaid invoices, or security alerts.
    • The Danger: These messages pressure you to act quickly without thinking, often leading to divulging sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
    • How to Avoid: Pause and think before reacting. Verify the information by contacting the company directly using official contact information.
  • Social Media Phishing
    • The Tactic: Attackers use social media platforms to impersonate friends or companies, sending messages with malicious links.
    • The Danger: Clicking on these links can lead to malware installation or credential theft.
    • How to Avoid: Be cautious of unsolicited messages and avoid clicking on unknown links. Verify the identity of the sender by checking their profile details and previous interactions.

The Rise of Smishing

In addition to traditional phishing tactics, we’re also seeing a rise in “smishing,” or SMS phishing.

  • Smishing via Text Messages
    • The Tactic: Attackers send text messages that appear to be from reputable sources, such as your bank, a delivery service, or even a government agency. These messages often contain a link or phone number to contact.
    • The Danger: Clicking on the link or calling the number can lead to malware installation, credential theft, or other forms of fraud.
    • How to Avoid:
      • Be skeptical of unsolicited text messages, especially those asking for personal information or urging immediate action.
      • Do not click on links or call phone numbers provided in suspicious messages.
      • Verify the message by contacting the organization directly through official channels.

How to Protect Yourself

Here are some practical steps you can take to protect yourself from phishing and smishing attacks:

  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (MFA/2FA)
  • Keep Software Updated
    • Ensure your operating system, antivirus software, and all applications are up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Verify Before You Click
    • Always make sure to verify the authenticity of any message, particularly those that ask for personal information or prompt you to click on a link or download a file. By doing so, you can avoid potential security threats and protect your sensitive data.
    • Watch our Online Safety Training (25 min.)

What to do if you suspect a phishing or smishing attempt

  • Do Not Click Any Links or Download Attachments
    • This is the primary way attackers gain access to your device or personal information.
  • Report It
    • Report the phishing attempt to your IT department or contact Braver Technology Solutions for guidance.
  • Delete the Message
    • Remove the threat from your inbox or phone to prevent accidental interaction in the future.

The Bottom line…

hishing and smishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated. However, with proactive measures and continuous vigilance, you can effectively shield yourself and your organization from succumbing to these threats. Remember, proactive measures and continuous awareness are key to maintaining security in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Remember, if something seems off, it probably is. Don’t take the bait!

For more information on cybersecurity and how we can help protect your business, contact Braver Technology Solutions. Stay safe and stay informed!

Braver Technology Solutions | WeMakeITWork@BraverTechnology.com
Boston 617.315.8515 | Taunton 508.824.2260 | Providence 401.484.7900

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