Taking email security measures seriously is more critical than ever. Phishing emails come in many forms and present severe threats to your company’s intellectual property, daily workflows, and finances. Successful cybercriminal attacks can disrupt or damage progress, especially for biotechs and other life science companies.
Investing in tools, programs, and end-user education is priceless when it comes to protecting your company. Learn more about why phishing emails happen, who they target, and how to stop phishing emails from compromising your work and finances.
Why do phishing emails happen?
Cybercriminals can make a lot of money by targeting businesses and individuals. These attacks are often initiated by sophisticated groups, not individual hackers, which means these malicious organizations have a wealth of tools and templates to organize mature scams.
Phishing is a lucrative enough business that it is worth the effort for cybercriminals to develop advanced attacks and tools to try to get ahead of security software updates. Attacks can include:
- Stealing users’ credentials
- Once compromised, watching email activity for insider information, such as public trading data
- Getting access to emails, data, financial information, and other intellectual property
- Tricking people into wiring them money under false pretenses, such as a fake invoice
If targets are not thoroughly informed and educated when a phishing email manages to circumvent blocking software, the result can be disastrous.
Who are the targets of phishing emails?
Phishing scams work best when cybercriminals can target thousands of people at once, hoping to hook and reel in even just a few responses. As a result, anyone can be targeted by phishing emails, from an individual at a small business to the head of a large federal organization.
No business is too small to be a target. Likewise, no business is too small to take precautions against phishing emails. Often, early-stage startups think they are so new and small that they don’t have to worry about this issue. However, as soon as any information about the company reaches the public, it is crucial to implement security programs and user education.
Scammers often attempt to impersonate a senior company member by setting up a fake email that looks similar to the company’s official email or by using official titles and positions to trick the email recipient. End users must be aware and able to recognize these types of scams to help protect the company from this type of social engineering.
How can you protect your company against phishing emails?
There are many safety measures and precautions you can take to prevent phishing emails from becoming a threat to your company. Some are programs and tools within your IT infrastructure, and others focus on your end users. Implementing various tools on both sides will give you well-rounded, thorough protection against all types of threats.
Leverage your infrastructure to stop phishing emails
Popular email providers such as Microsoft365 and Google typically have security programs and tools built into their software, including basic email filtering and spam protection. However, even if incoming emails are being scanned, you may not be fully proofed against phishing emails.
Many phishing emails arrive as plain text messages without enough red flags to be quarantined. In these cases, you can implement various other levels of security for even better protection. This next level of service can include security features such as:
- Tagging emails that come from an email that is external to the organization
- Converting attachments into safe PDFs for you to review before restoring the original email
- Link masking to verify email links’ safety before allowing you to access websites
- Whitelisting domains or email addresses to reduce false quarantines while still triaging threats successfully
Some of these features may be inconvenient in some ways, but these minor inconveniences are worthwhile if they can prevent you from being successfully targeted by phishing emails. It can be tempting to turn off security features that you feel are disruptive to your work. If the time is put into these features it will become second nature and not an inconvenience while protecting the company.
Instead of compromising your security, check in with your IT service provider about your options. Working with an IT service provider such as Data Evolution can help you ensure the appropriate security measures are active and determine if you need any higher tiers of security.
Teach your users how to stop phishing emails
When it comes to your end users, ensure they have up-to-date antivirus and antimalware software in place. Traditional antivirus programs run on signature databases to identify known threats and are only updated when new threats are identified. Modern security programs are more advanced and use AI to detect any abnormalities in real time.
Ultimately, some emails will still make it through your security programs. There are filtering tools that can provide an extra layer of protection in case a user clicks on a bad link or opens a malicious attachment. This makes end-user education a critical piece of your email security.
These days, cybercriminals’ main focus is not trying to hack firewalls. Instead, social engineering poses one of the biggest threats to your security. End-user education teaches your people to identify and avoid threats to protect your company. Read our blog on end-user security training to see how you can implement this crucial education piece from onboarding to offboarding.
Though we understand some tools, programs, and end-user education can pose a minor inconvenience to your workflow, we highly encourage implementing these measures and giving them some time to work. Like any other work habits, seeing these security measures in action will soon become second nature, and the protection they provide is priceless.
Interested in protecting your company’s cybersecurity? Read about these 5 key cybersecurity musts for life science companies, or get in touch with your Data Evolution experts for more information.