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July 14, 2020

What Is a Phishing Email and How to Defend Against Attacks

What Is a Phishing Email and How to Defend Against Attacks

phishing-emailOver the next five years, businesses are expected to lose approximately $5 trillion as a result of cybercrime.


However, this type of setback isn't limited to hacking or massive data breaches. Something as simple as an email can lead to adverse consequences if proper care isn't used.


Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!


Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to prepare for phishing emails in your cyber security protocol.

So... What Is A Phishing Email?

Ever got an email out of nowhere that says you've won something? Or how about that there's an urgent issue with your bank account?


The vast majority (if not all) of the time, these are scams that aim to get info like your account number, passwords, social security number, etc.


'Phishing' is a term derived from 'fishing' in reference to casting out your line (the emails) in search of a catch (personal information or sensitive data). Unfortunately, it's not always easy to undo the consequences if you fall for this trick.

How Can I Spot One?

There are plenty of telltale signs to watch out for if you receive a suspicious email.

Let's dive into some of the most common.


Example of an actual phishing email: 

phishing email example


A couple things to take note of about this phishing email:


  • It is written with the subject line "FOLLOW UP" which implies that there was a previous conversation. This may trick some people into thinking that if there was a previous conversation, it must be safe to trust the email or click on links. 
  • It is poorly written, has bad spacing and also notice that is uses (s) a lot, which makes it clear it is an email template which makes it able to use for many people.
  • It has links which are dangerous and ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT BE CLICKED ON.  


They Don't Identify You in The Message

This tip isn't always applicable, but it can often be supporting evidence when there are other areas of concern in the suspected email.


Since these messages are sent en masse to thousands of people, they often won't include a name. They'll use general terms like 'customer', 'user', etc.


They Urge You to Open an Attachment or Follow a Link


Phishing emails complete their data harvest by redirecting victims to a false web page that looks like a legitimate site they trust. From here, the recipients are asked to 'update their password' or perform a similar action that involves them inputting sensitive information.


Attachments may result in your computer becoming infected with a virus. This can prove to be exceptionally dangerous, as many viruses don't show obvious signs that an infection is present.


There Are Grammar Errors


It's extremely unlikely for there to by any sort of grammar error in an official email from a reputable website. And, if there is, it's usually something minor.


In phishing emails, though, the copy often reads like it was written by someone who isn't fluent in English. This is one of the easiest ways to spot that something's not right.


staying alive

How Can I Defend Against Them?

Luckily, this is the easy part.


If you aren't sure if you're being scammed or not (some emails can be more on the convincing side), go to the website on your own through your browser. You shouldn't click a suspicious link under any circumstances.


You can also use a browser protection tool (like the one built into Google Chrome) that alerts you if the website you own has been flagged for suspicious or malicious activity.

Managing Your Company's Cyber Security Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.


With the above information about phishing emails in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making your business's cyber security plan as airtight as possible.


Want to learn more web tips to keep you safe and improve your productivity online? This page has plenty of useful information.

Kevin Gray
Hello! I am the Managing Principal @ EnvisionIT Solutions. | Technology Expert | Author | Speaker | Small & Medium Business IT Support - We founded EnvisionIT Solutions in 2007 to provide IT services and support for business owners/CEOs who value the necessity of technology to drive their success and growth.
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