For those who have grown up with technology, phishing scams are just a normal everyday occurrence that they don’t give a second thought to. While some people might be good at identifying phishing scams, this isn’t true for everyone. These scams are constantly evolving—getting smarter and more difficult to spot every day. Anyone can fall victim to these emails, which is why it’s critical for businesses to take steps to minimize the risk these scams present.
Why are phishing scams such a problem?
Becoming caught in a phishing scam is a problem no matter the circumstances—they are incredibly harmful whether they target an individual person or a business of any size. The point of phishing scams is to gain access to sensitive information that allows the scammer to con you or your business out of money.
According to a report by the FBI, specific phishing attacks known as business email compromise scams (BECs) were responsible for a net loss of nearly $1.6 billion from October 2013 through December 2016. No business, big or small, is safe from phishing scams. Phishing emails are an equal opportunity threat that can affect businesses with less than a dozen employees all the way up to multi-billion dollar corporations.
How can you prevent phishing scams from harming your business?
The first thing you can do to prevent phishing scams from harming your business is to learn how to identify them. The Federal Trade Commission has some excellent reading material that goes more in-depth on how to identify phishing scams, but here are some basics:
- Never click on a link until you are certain the email is from a trusted source.
- Never offer any identifying or sensitive information over email.
- Call any company that has sent you an email claiming you need to take steps to correct an issue of some kind.
- If you get an unusual email from a coworker or boss, contact them to confirm that they sent it.
There are a lot of different kinds of phishing scams out there, and small businesses can fall victim to more than a dozen different scams. The best way to protect yourself is to scrutinize anything that you’re not sure about, confirm financial transactions with trusted vendors and business partners whenever applicable, and—most importantly—train your employees on how to identify phishing scams and what steps to take to ensure that they are not accidentally revealing sensitive company information to scam artists.
It is also a good idea to make sure all employees, whether they’re in-person or remote, have access to appropriate antivirus and firewall software. This can be very helpful if they click a phishing link that installs malware because they can simply do a scan with their antivirus and neutralize any threats it finds right away.
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