A constant source of unrest for many enterprises around the world, phishing attacks can range from being a nuisance to carrying threats capable of bringing business networks to their knees.
While it’s true that many phishing tactics are simple to spot and often disregarded as spam, there are sharper strategies that employ spoofing to trick victims into believing they are valid messages from a trusted source. Phishing emails may appear to be from a familiar bank or even a government authority, but their purpose is always the same.
Essentially, all phishing attacks are designed to encourage targets to take a particular course of action – one desired by the threat operator. This may be to click on a link, download an attached document or simply share confidential information about an enterprise or individual.
What is the potential risk of phishing attacks?
Clicking on links included in phishing emails can activate a malware download or take the recipient unwittingly to a site that appears to be authentic. In reality, it’s a fake version with a perfect recreation of the log-in page. When the user adds their confidential details, they are summarily stolen. Hackers can then use them to infiltrate company accounts.
Downloading an attachment that arrives with a phishing email may install a wide range of unwanted malware onto a company device, like computer viruses, worms, spyware, adware, Trojans and ransomware. Depending on the malware, the impact will be different, but in some cases, the software will be infectious and can spread to interlinked devices and harm company networks. If sensitive files are encrypted or stolen, this can mean expensive data breaches for businesses that can cost millions when data regulators discover any sign of negligence.
The best protocol for UK firms to follow when they identify a phishing campaign being aimed at them is to message the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre). If your employees encounter a scam email, don’t ignore it – report it instead to the NCSC immediately.
How reporting to the NCSC works
If you receive a suspicious message you believe may be a phishing email, you can forward it to the NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). The email address to use is: email@example.com
The email might be from a company you don’t recognise or an organisation you never communicate with, but either way, if the message feels suspicious, simply forward it to the NCSC. By reporting a potential phishing email, you can help the security centre take swift steps to protect other businesses from being affected by the same insidious attack.
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