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What is a Common Indicator of a Phishing Attempt?

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What is a Common Indicator of a Phishing Attempt?


Today, a phishing attack has become one of the most dangerous yet effective tactics by cybercriminals to solicit personal information through malicious websites and emails. On the surface, attackers make phishing attacks in the guise of an individual or established organization.

Remember that the motive of any type of phishing attack comes down to gaining information by gaining access to personal, secure, and restricted information. Oftentimes, it’s too late for organizations to react to an ongoing phishing attack. Usually, attackers take sequential steps to extract the personal and private information of the victim.


The Nature of a Phishing Attack

Many sites contain malicious code and oftentimes the attack is part of the link in the phishing email. Ultimately, that code executes the access command on a specific user’s unique device. The good news is that phishing attacks have common indicators that you should be aware of.

Mostly, phishing scam involves triggering a specific action from the user to extract sensitive information.  Today, cybercriminals have become smarter and bait entities into giving important financial information.  When it comes to a phishing attack, there is an urgent need to raise more awareness about its common indicators.

Of course, phishing attempts are not a new phenomenon but the rise of phishing attacks in the post-COVID-19 pandemic has raised new alarms. In fact, one report after another proves that phishing emails now openly target healthcare authorities and even impersonate the government. It makes all the more reason to take into account standard indicators to raise awareness and avoid malicious attempts.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the common indicators related to a phishing attack:


Identification and Personal Data

If the message of the email straight-up asks you to share personal information, then assume it as a phishing attempt. These types of emails exploit the anxiety and fear of the user to extract information. It is the main reason banks run nationwide campaigns to raise awareness about phishing attempts and not share bank account information, mother’s maiden name, login credentials, or social security number.  You can also spot a potential phishing email if it addresses you on a first-name basis.


Feeling of Urgency and Threatening

The majority of phishing attempts come across as threatening or with a sense of urgency. So, if the vibes of the email are urgent and suspicious threatening, then assume right from the start that it is a phishing email. In haste, you might think of urgent intervention, but the best solution to a phishing attempt is to deletion from your inbox. Usually, when the email sounds off-putting or odd, then read it a few more times for inconstancies that may have been undetected on the first read.


Attached Files

Always take the attached files with a grain of salt. But all phishing attempts come with one or more attached files to the receipt. The intended purpose of these attached files is harmful and triggers a response.

As long as the extension of the attached file is unknown, flag it right away. Similarly, if the file is attached with a bigger file size in the formats like exe or zip, then assume it’s a malware download.

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Inconsistencies in Email Address

Another way to spot a possible phishing attempt is to take a closer look at its email address, link text, and domain name. Also, cross-reference the email and see whether or not it matches with the brand or company it claims to be. You should also bring your cursor over the URL link and see if there are any inconsistencies in the domain name. Remember, it could be something as minor as a single letter.

For instance, if you received a new email from New York Times magazine subscription, you would expect it to direct the text link to the subscription page. But if the page leads to another domain link, then it is likely a phishing email sent in the disguise of an NYT magazine subscription.  And the last thing you should do is click on it.


Grammatical or Spelling Errors

You may not be aware of it but grammatical issues serve as a common dictator when it comes to phishing attempts. Look for the signs like bad spellings, wrong synonyms, and wrong use of overall grammar as a sign of a phishing email. It is the main reason most companies have activated the spell feature for all outgoing emails.

Ideally, you should use an auto-correction solution on a web browser to identify common grammatical mistakes. And if you encounter a lot of incorrect spellings and grammar issues, chances are it is a phishing email. And that’s because the authentic sourced emails have grammatically accurate have little to no spelling mistakes.


Self-initiated Conversation

If the conversation in the email is self-initiated, assume it may be a phishing attempt. In layman’s terms, if you haven’t started the conversation, and the recipient takes granted that you have – there is a high probability of a phishing scam. So, if you notice suspicious marketing updates and material that you have not requested or asked for ­–flag it as a suspicious email and delete it later on.


Brief Descriptions

This indication is not definite because many phishing emails contain a lot of details and demonstrate false pretense to extract information. On the flip side, there are phishing emails that come across as subtle with brief descriptions. In fact, scammers send these short emails on purpose to establish genuineness and direct contact. These types of short emails can open with “here’s your requested information” and then follow with attached files.


Unrealistic Demand or Request

Most phishing emails have odd requests or demands that befuddle most users. If there is an unrealistic demand or request with a shady background, link, domain name, and attached file, assume it is a malicious attack.

Oftentimes, the email may stem from your IT department for software updates and to click on the attached file. On the other hand, the message could be to click on a link in order to fix the laptop or centralize data management. These types of emails are a clear indication of a potential phishing attempt.


What Does it Take to Avoid Phishing Attacks?

Contrary to misguided perception, you have to be aware of more than just basic internet terminology to ensure protection from annoying and dangerous phishing attacks. When it comes to phishing attacks, the burden of responsibility falls on the employees to understand the mechanics and triggers of potential risks associated with phishing scams.

The trick is to spot phishing emails as early as possible to avoid being a victim. Of course, the scenarios and work environments vary, but the tactics used by cybercriminals are more or less the same. Unfortunately, there is no cybersecurity tech that can magically address phishing attempts.

Instead, organizations and their employees have to be proactive and adopt a multi-dimensional strategy to minimize phishing attacks and their impact. Opting for security awareness training makes complete sense for firms to make their work environment and internal security safe and secure.


Final Thoughts

It can be a constant challenge for companies and their workforce to identify common phishing attempts. If you value the security of your firm, then you’re bound to give high priority to curb the impact of phishing attacks. In the past, many firms have overlooked phishing attempts and paid the price with severe financial loss, data breach, and reputation damage.

In most cases, the victim company cannot figure out whether or not the email is authentic. Focusing on common indicators of a phishing attack allows companies to differentiate between fake and genuine email sources. In retrospect, phishing indicators help the victim company prevent more malicious attacks in the foreseeable future.

From small businesses to large corporations, enterprises are more vulnerable to phishing and ransomware attacks than ever. And when companies don’t have a full-fledged network, secure data protocols, and data protection procedures in place, it makes entities more susceptible.

Of course, data backup and recovery is a robust solution to mitigate the impact of phishing and ransomware attacks. But the wise solution would be to focus on preventative measures that can help you identify phishing attacks and ensure secure operations.


SafeTitan Offers Phishing Security Awareness

SafeTitan understands that reporting security training of employees is paramount to meet compliance requirements. When it comes to phishing, SafeTitan comes with advanced cybersecurity awareness in the form of real-time training. If you want the most diverse training in the cybersecurity realm, then take a sneak peek of SafeTitan.

SafeTitan security training is incredibly easy to set up and use. In fact, you can even complete the annual security training in a single day. One of the perks of using SafeTitan is that it minimizes security risks through heightened user awareness and address key security threats like phishing emails. Another hallmark aspect SafeTitan is that it does not generalize and allows each firm or independent organization to adjust the training requirements as per their specific needs.

You can check out SafeTitan’s demo and see the security training and simulation in action. Book your free demo right now and bid farewell to phishing attacks for good.


Sign up for a FREE Demo of SafeTitan to learn how the solution works to add an additional layer of defence against phishing attempts.

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