Creating an Effective Anti-Phishing Strategy

Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly savvier. Each time the tech safety world catches up with a cybercriminal’s approach, they think of a new trick.

If your business has survived phishing attacks so far, it may be due to luck rather than having an effective anti-phishing strategy.

If this is an area of IT security that you don’t spend much time thinking about, here’s how you can make your approach more effective.

Educate your staff on phishing

Your employees are your biggest vulnerability when it comes to phishing. At the same time, they can be one of your first lines of defense.

Make sure your employees have a high index of suspicion when it comes to emails they don’t recognize. In a lot of cases, suspicious emails will seem random, they’ll contain unexpected links, or they may just seem odd. 

Although educating your employees may seem time-consuming, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts later.

Around one in every 99 emails is a phishing email. That means your employees could be batting off a handful of attacks each week.

If that’s the case, investing in their education is worth your time and resources.

Secure your browsers

In the event that an employee does click on a suspicious link, you need to decrease the likelihood that it’ll cause harm.

Add extensions to your browsers that only allow HTTPS websites to run. As a result, those that are not secure and those that have expired security certificates won’t leave you vulnerable.

As a side note, it’s important to update your browsers too. Make sure your IT team prioritizes browser updates, as failing to do so could increase your vulnerability to phishing.

Perform software updates

When you’re prompted to update your software, you’re patching a vulnerability. All software is released with vulnerabilities, but they’re not usually discovered until after the release.

In response to those vulnerabilities, your software provider will create updates. Updating your software patches portals of entry that cybercriminals could use.

In addition to responding to automatic updates early, make sure you perform routine maintenance to look for them. As a result, you’ll reduce the number of threats that unpatched programs pose to your organization.

Run employee simulations

One of the best ways to assess whether your education efforts have taken hold is to run an employee simulation. You can either do this during the training or as a random exercise afterward.

As a part of your simulation, send your employees an email that represents current phishing tactics. If they click on a link in the email, make sure it opens to a screen detailing what the tactic was and how to avoid it in the future.

Cybercriminals are constantly changing their approach, so make sure you look for details of the latest trends and run simulations that reflect them. For example, in Q3 of 2018, social engineering attacks had risen by 233%. Changes in trends suggest that phishers are changing their approach too.

Look at alternative sources

Phishing doesn’t just occur by email. Cybercriminals will use other sources too, such as social media apps.

Make sure your employees know to execute caution when using apps such as Facebook messenger. If they’re going to be really strict about their efforts, they won’t accept friend requests from people they don’t know.

With a multifaceted approach, you’re more likely to guard yourself against phishing. Just makes sure you change your tactics from time to time too.