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What is Phishing and How to Avoid It

In today's digital age, cyber threats have become increasingly sophisticated, and one of the most prevalent and dangerous forms of cybercrime is phishing.

Preferred Office Technologies technician working on a computer

Phishing attacks can compromise your business's sensitive information, leading to financial losses and reputation damage. To help you safeguard your business, Preferred Office Technologies offers this comprehensive guide on understanding phishing attacks and how to protect your organization with our managed IT services, including cybersecurity.


What is Phishing?

Phishing is a deceptive online tactic used by cybercriminals to trick individuals or organizations into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial data, or personal information. These attackers masquerade as trusted entities, often using fake emails, websites, or messages to deceive their victims. Understanding how phishing works is crucial in recognizing and avoiding these threats.

How Phishing Works:

  • Target Selection: Cybercriminals identify potential targets, often based on their roles within an organization or their vulnerability to specific types of attacks.

  • Crafting the Message: Phishers create convincing and enticing messages, often designed to evoke a sense of urgency or fear, encouraging recipients to take immediate action.

  • Spoofing: Attackers spoof legitimate email addresses or websites, making them appear trustworthy. They may even impersonate well-known companies or colleagues.

  • Delivery: Phishing messages are sent via email, text messages, or social media. Victims receive these messages, making it appear as though they are from a reputable source.

  • Deception: Recipients are lured into clicking on links, downloading attachments, or sharing sensitive information, thinking they are interacting with a legitimate entity.

Common Types of Phishing and How They Work:

  • Spear Phishing

  • Email Phishing

  • Whaling

  • Clone Phishing

  • Pop-Up Phishing

5 common types of phishing. Spear phishing, email phishing, whaling, clone phishing, pop-up phishing


Phishing Techniques:

  • Social Engineering

  • Email Spoofing

  • Malware Distribution

  • URL Obfuscation

  • Impersonation

How to Spot Phishing:

  • Check the sender's email address for irregularities.

  • Look for spelling and grammatical errors in messages.

  • Examine URLs carefully before clicking.

  • Beware of urgent or threatening language.

  • Verify requests for sensitive information through other means.

Dos and Don'ts for Protecting Against Phishing Attacks:

Don't open suspicious emails:

  • If you receive an email supposedly from a financial institution with an alarming subject line—such as “Account suspended!” or “Funds on hold”—delete it.

  • If you are worried that there is a problem, log in to your account or contact the bank directly. If there really is a problem with your bank account or credit card, you’ll find information once you’ve logged in.

Don't click on suspicious links in emails:

  • If you open an email from someone you don’t know and are instructed to click on a link, don’t.

  • Often, these links will take you to fake websites that will then encourage you to either provide personal information or click on links that might install malware on your computer.

Don't send financial information through email:

  • Your bank or credit card provider will never ask you to provide bank account numbers, your Social Security number, or passwords through email.

Don't click on pop-up ads:

  • Hackers can add fraudulent messages that pop up when you visit even legitimate websites.

  • Oftentimes, the pop-ups will warn you that your computer is infected and instruct you to call a phone number or install antivirus protection. Avoid this temptation.

  • Scammers use these ads to either install malware on your computer or scam you out of a payment for a computer cleanup you don’t need.

Do use spam filters:

  • Spam filters can help get rid of spam and phishing emails from illegitimate sources, but you should always use your best judgment in case phishing emails get past your blocker.

Do use security software:

  • By letting us help you install security software, you can surf the web with confidence, knowing you took the extra steps to help protect your device from hackers, malware, and other threats of phishing.

By remembering these dos and don'ts, you can help minimize the risk of phishing attacks and keep your device and personal information secure. Preferred Office Technologies also offers comprehensive Cybersecurity Solutions to further enhance your protection against phishing and other cyber threats.

What to Do If You've Fallen for a Phishing Scam:

  • Change passwords immediately.

  • Report the incident to your IT department or managed IT services provider.

  • Monitor financial accounts for unauthorized activity.

  • Educate employees to prevent future occurrences.

Defending Against Phishing Attacks with Preferred Office Technologies Cybersecurity Services:

  • Our cybersecurity services offer real-time threat monitoring.

  • We provide proactive threat intelligence and response.

  • Our experts will assist in incident remediation and recovery.

  • We offer employee training to enhance security awareness.

Phishing attacks pose a significant threat to businesses today. By understanding how phishing works, recognizing common types and techniques, and following phishing protection tips, you can fortify your organization's defenses. Partnering with Preferred Office Technologies for managed IT services, including Cybersecurity, is your best defense against potential phishing attacks. Protect your business, safeguard your data, and maintain your reputation with our comprehensive cybersecurity solutions.

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