What is a Common Indicator of a Phishing Attempt? Detecting & Responding to Phishing Attacks

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What Is a Common Indicator of a Phishing Attempt?

In today’s digital world, where technology is advancing rapidly and everything is seamlessly connected, the threat of phishing attacks is more real than ever. Cybercriminals, with their not-so-friendly intentions, use all sorts of sneaky tricks to exploit weaknesses and get their hands on sensitive information. It can be super confusing to recognize a phishing attempt and, if you mistakenly take the bait, incredibly hard to backtrack to safeguard your company!

At Concertium, we go beyond cybersecurity service as your trusted partner in managing IT and cybersecurity. Our goal is to ensure you’re fully aware of the rapidly-evolving potential risks and get the most out of outsourcing your cybersecurity while being well-euipped to ahndle the changing landscape of digital threats.

As we dive deeper into this topic, we aim to shine a light on common scams and the signs that a phishing attempt might be coming your way. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to defend yourself against digital scams and threats.

So what is a common indicator of a phishing attempt? Let’s tackle this fundamental question that often arises when discussing online safety.

Unusual Email Greetings or Subject Lines

When it comes to figuring out tricks like phishing, email messages can be a big giveaway. Cybercriminals often use simple greetings or make things feel super urgent in the subject lines to get our attention. 

A strong sense of urgency is a typical move by scammers, like using phrases such as “Take Immediate Action” or “Your Account’s in Trouble.” These subject lines push us to act quickly without really thinking it through. 

Remember, if an email tries to rush you, just take a moment and think before you do anything. It’s always wiser to play it safe. 

With Concertium’s email and collaboration security services, we take a proactive approach to prevent as many of those emails before they even reach your inbox.  However, it is always good practice to remain cautious with emails as cyber attackers are always trying to find new ways around even the most sophisticated email security tools.

Unsolicited Communications

Receiving unsolicited communications, particularly those requesting sensitive information, should immediately trigger caution. Remember, legitimate organizations usually do not initiate contact through unexpected emails, text messages, or phone calls. 

Unsolicited requests are hallmarks of a potential phishing scam. Some common examples of unsolicited requests are for login credentials, account info, and other personal data that is sensitive in nature.  The way to avoid falling victim to these types of attempts is to never click on the links within an email you receive and instead independently verify the authenticity of such requests through the origin of the sender.  Don’t click on the links – always independently verify the authenticity of such requests through trusted channels before responding.  

In other words, go to the trusted source URL and contact customer service directly. 

Questionable Requests 

Phishing tricks usually include strange requests that don’t make much sense and can cause a lot of confusion. Bad guys might pretend to be big companies, like Microsoft, and ask for things like changing passwords, personal info, or even money help. 

Stay watchful and think about any request that wants private info or things that don’t feel right. It’s essential to be cautious and not fall for anything fishy. 

Bad Grammar and Spelling 

Often, phishing emails contain glaring spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. These misspellings and improper sentence structures can serve as a dead giveaway of a scam. 

Cybercriminals, often operating hastily, may not focus on proper language usage. So, scrutinize emails for any obvious spelling errors that seem out of place for legitimate communication. 

For example, a scammer may use a word that isn’t common with the industry or company. You might receive an email from someone claiming to be your accountant requesting financial information, but they misspell “accountant” – that’s an immediate indicator that the credibility of the email is in question. 

Solicitation of Personal Information 

Legitimate organizations seldom ask for personal or sensitive information via email. Be cautious if an email requests confidential data such as Social Security numbers, credit card details, or passwords.  

When in doubt, contact the organization through official communication channels to confirm the request’s legitimacy. 

Brief Descriptions 

Phishing attempts can be kind of tricky. They use short, not-so-clear descriptions to make us curious or worried. They want us to click hyperlinks or download stuff. But don’t rush – if it looks suspicious or odd, slow down and think before you click. 

Sometimes, the phishing tricks are quite convincing. They might describe what a company does, making it tough to know if it’s real or fake. Watch out for emails that seem trustworthy but ask for personal info out of the blue.  

If you’re not sure about an email, it’s okay to double-check. Err on the side of caution and do some due diligence before assuming the email is valid. Contact the sender, going to their website or calling their registered support number found (not using any information provided in the email you received).  It’s always better to be safe than sorry, as one wrong click can lead to a company-wide incident.  

You might even come across an entire website that a scammer built to make a phony recruiter’s email, such as one asking for personal information like your social security number to apply for a job, seem legit. If it seems vague, repetitive, or lacks the correct information to support the so-called company representative’s claims, it may be a sign of a phishing attack. 

Suspicious Attachments or Links 

Cybercriminals frequently employ malicious links and suspicious attachments as vehicles to deliver malware. To be safe, move your mouse cursor over links to reveal the underlying domain name and verify its authenticity before clicking. And don’t open any attachments unless you’ve ensured they’re safe by verifying the sender’s credibility. 

If you have received a suspicious attachment or link: 

  1. Tell your IT or security team about the email. 
  2. Delete the email from your inbox and any other folders. 
  3. Immediately change your email password if the message contains links to your personal or work accounts. 

How to Respond to Phishing Attempts 

In addition to remaining aware of cyberattack tactics, here are a few recommendations to ensure you’re doing your part on the frontline to prevent successful phishing attacks:  

  1. Pause.  Take a moment to consider the signs that could be present but easily overlooked. 
  2. Verify.  Make sure you go to the source directly to confirm the request is legitimate.  
  3. Inform. Make sure to make your IT team aware of the tactic that is being used to target their employees.   

If you follow these steps, you are much more likely to stop a breach in the company before damage can occur. If you have any questions about how to respond to a phishing scam, please contact us. 

Let Concertium Help With Your Email Security 

As the ways we live and conduct business are only becoming more reliant on a digital landscape, it is more imperative than ever to ensure you are taking the preventative steps necessary to stay vigilant against the attackers of cybercriminals. 

Concertium understands the complexity and challenges companies face in trying to effectively protect their data from cyberthreats.  To find the resources, appropriate skillset, time to hire and manage, and 24/7 oversight, it can be daunting, and frankly, unfeasible.  That’s where our team can help. 

We provide comprehensive managed cybersecurity and IT services to establish a robust defense built upon layers of security.  We provide the services to prevent threats though email from reaching your employees inbox, detect and respond to suspicious activity if any occurs, and provide the security training to your team to ensure the frontline is staying aware of phishing attempt trends. 

Don’t leave the security of your sensitive data to chance—speak with an expert today and strengthen your digital armor against potential breaches.