Hook, Line, and Sinker: Don’t Let Phishing Emails Reel You In! #CSAM

News and information from the Advent IM team.

  • by Olivia Lawlor-Blackburn
  • General

This is the last part of our security tips for Cyber Security Awareness Month. We hope you have found them helpful and will consider coming to us for support on information security consulting or training in the future. This last post is a crucial one as so many cyber incidents and data breaches are enabled by this particular attack vector. Whilst some people contend this is a cyber issue, we feel it’s a human-driven issue and can be managed and prevented through some human-centric activities and education. We cannot simply wish for employees to do the right thing, (especially if have not taught them what that is) we must make it easy for them to do the right thing because they understand the problem, how they can be part of the solution and are engaged enough with information security as BAU to take it seriously for the benefit of the whole organisation.

Phishing and spear-phishing attacks pose significant threats to businesses, and it’s crucial for s to implement best practices to mitigate these risks. Here are five essential tips:

Employee Training and Awareness: Regular Training Programs: Conduct regular phishing awareness training for all employees. Ensure they are familiar with common phishing tactics and can recognize suspicious emails, links, or attachments.

Simulated Phishing Exercises: Implement simulated phishing exercises to test and reinforce employees’ ability to identify phishing attempts. Use these exercises as a learning opportunity to improve awareness. Be cautious with your approach here, there have been examples of this backfiring quite spectacularly. It should be reasonable and honest and should not be a ‘stick to beat people with’. Respect people through the process. Look for positive ways to get your message across so it looks less like you are trying to catch them out and more trying to help them spot the problem and report it…which is actually what you want.

Use Advanced Email Security Solutions: Email Filtering and Authentication: Deploy advanced email security solutions that include robust filtering mechanisms and authentication protocols (e.g., DMARC, DKIM, SPF). These tools can help detect and block phishing emails before they reach employees’ inboxes.

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

MFA for Access Control: This has popped up every week of Cybersecurity Awareness Week blog posts! Enforce the use of multi-factor authentication across all systems and applications. This adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access even if login credentials are compromised.

Regular Software Updates and Patch Management: Keep Systems Updated: Ensure that all software, including operating systems, antivirus programs, and email clients, is regularly updated with the latest security patches. Outdated software can be vulnerable to exploitation by phishing attacks.

Establish Clear Reporting Procedures: Encourage Reporting: Establish a culture where employees feel comfortable reporting suspicious emails or incidents promptly. Provide clear instructions on how to report phishing attempts, and make sure the reporting process is straightforward and well-known throughout the organisation.

Remember that spear-phishing attacks are often more targeted and personalised, making them harder to detect. Here are additional tips specifically for addressing spear-phishing:

Verify Suspicious Requests: Independently Confirm Requests: In the case of any unusual or sensitive requests, encourage employees to independently verify the legitimacy of the request through a separate communication channel (e.g., a phone call or in-person confirmation).

Limit Access to Sensitive Information: Need-to-Know Access: Restrict access to sensitive information, ensuring that employees only have access to the data necessary for their roles. This limits the potential damage in case of a successful spear-phishing attack.

Monitor and Analyse User Behaviour: User Behaviour Analytics: Implement user behaviour analytics tools to monitor and analyse user actions. Unusual patterns of behaviour can be indicative of a compromised account or a spear-phishing attempt.

By combining these best practices, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing and spear-phishing attacks and create a more resilient cybersecurity environment. Regularly reassess and update these practices to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats. If you need help with implementing any aspects of your Information Security Management System, including this, call us and we can help get you on the right track. Our experts have been working with problems like this since 2002.

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