We hear the terms scam, fraud and phishing thrown around a lot – but what is phishing? And what are the long term effects it could have on a business, particularly when a phishing site has gone viral? In this blog we’ll look into this, as well as how to protect your business from falling victim to a phishing attack.
What is Phishing and How can it Impact Your Business?
In simple terms, phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails with the intention of gathering personal information. In most scenarios, the communications can appear as though they are coming from a reputable source. Most commonly, a sender impersonates a well known business with a strong following and uses their branding such as logo and email templates. They then contact a wide range of recipients in an attempt to convince them to share their information. Whilst these communications typically come in the form of emails, they can also be received via SMS (smishing) or video phone calls (vishing).
The email will likely direct a recipient to a website that has been created to look similar to the company’s legitimate website. Cyber criminals can also hack into the back-end of a legitimate website and set up a fake page so that the URL looks reliable. This is done so the targeted victim feels comfortable entering their login information or even credit card details. Once that information has been entered, the real perpetrators behind the fraudulent behaviour have their secure information.
It’s easy to focus on the impact this may have to the individual as it’s their information that’s potentially being stolen. However, this type of activity can also have a significant impact on the companies who these cyber criminals are impersonating.
Typically, phishing is targeted to get the biggest bang for buck – not everyone will fall for a fraudulent email, so a bad actor will tend to send a phishing email to as broad of an audience as possible. Because of this, the reputation of the brand being impersonated can be significantly damaged. Whether these emails are going to an organisation’s existing client base or to prospective clients – being associated with widespread fraud is never a positive thing for your brand’s reputation.
How to Protect Your Business
Organisations can protect themselves by being aware of this type of fraud and brand impersonation. Monitor any social media accounts associated with your business and if you notice fake accounts have been set up, report them immediately. Also regularly update passwords for digital accounts and ensure a record is kept of all individuals who have access to those accounts.
An easy way to ensure your existing customer base is protected is by communicating with them yourselves. The benefit to this is two pronged – not only do they gain an understanding of your communication style so they’re more likely to identify fake communications, you can also advise them of what you won’t do – that phishing attacks might attempt.
Overall, the best way to protect your business from these types of attacks is by partnering with a trusted digital protection agency like FraudWatch. Our dedicated team of analysts work 24x7x365 to protect businesses from phishing attacks and brand protection. We proactively source fraudulent websites using your branding and we boast a 100% success rate in the takedown of these sites.