Despite how serious cyber attacks can be, 79% of remote workers don't consider them to be too dangerous. In fact, many are unaware of the possibility of falling victim to a phishing scam. However, the right scam at the right time can devastate a business's technological sector.
Phishing attacks have been at an all-time high over the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many computer-based roles to work from home, meaning that more people were working from personal computers on their home Wi-Fi connections. This, plus the increased screen time, allowed for more cyber scams to take place.
This problem may be due to a lack of cybersecurity literacy amongst the general populace, as a business will rarely spend more than an afternoon walking an employee through the do's and don'ts of owning a sensitive device, especially before everyone was sent home during the pandemic.
What are cyber attacks?
Cyber attacks can take many forms, and rarely will they ever look like they do on TV. It's not like a red skull will pop up on your screen and start eating your computer files as taunting music blares out of your speakers.
Rather, cyber attacks are for more insidious, happening under the radar, possibly showing no sign of a problem until it's too late. One of the most common cyber attack methods (making up 80% of all cyber attacks) is phishing – when a seemingly inconspicuous link is sent from a seemingly ordinary email address, but when clicked on, can lead to any number of problems.
Despite all the problems that can stem from phishing and other cyber attacks, many remote workers seem blissfully unaware. 39% of people say they have no problem clicking on suspicious links, with 56% of people being unaware of “SMiShing,” a similar cyber attack technique that involves asking for personal or financial information over text messages.
What can cyber attacks mean for a business?
If your business is hit by a phishing attack, the results can vary from annoying to catastrophic. For example, the scam may be a relatively harmless program that feeds emails to a third party. Not ideal by any means, but if found and stopped, it won't be the end of the world.
However, in worst case scenarios, the scam program could find its way into extremely sensitive information, like personal employee details, ranging from addresses to bank details, or even confidential files, like a business's finances.
How do you stop cyber attacks?
As for how to stop them, the sad truth is that cyber crime isn't going anywhere. All we can do is adapt to the most common approaches used by phishers and do our best to avoid these scams when they do pop up.
Some crucial tips to make phishing emails stand out:
- Announce when company-wide emails are going out on a separate platform, like Slack or a company calendar. A common phishing method is to spoof an email so that it looks like an official email from the business itself in the hopes that employees won't think twice opening it
- Use an email client like Gmail, which has extensive filters that stop phishing emails from ever reaching their targets in the first place
- Ask your IT team, or an external team of cyber security experts, to put together a presentation about telltale signs of phishing in order to improve your business's cyber security literacy
How to Protect Yourself Online
If you own a business yourself, there are a couple of steps you can take in order to protect yourself against phishing scams. Firstly, you're just going to want to be vigilant. The best way to fix a problem is to never let that problem occur in the first place, so if you or your employees remain cautious of clicking links within suspicious emails, you can stop most attacks before they happen.
However, sometimes things just go wrong, so it's nice to have a backup. Antivirus software can catch hacking/virus attempts before they get to work on their devious purposes, so installing these services on any vulnerable or sensitive devices could be a godsend for anyone worried about losing important info to hackers.