We’ve almost made it through 2022, and with every year that passes cyberattacks become more targeted and deceitful. If your organization does not have a Security Awareness Training program in place, you may not know there’s a lot in the digital world that can cause severe distress to you, your coworkers, and your day-to-day operations. Long gone are the days where all we had to be wary of was an email asking you to help a Nigerian prince with their boatloads of money. Technology has come a long way—and so have bad actors trying to get access to your data and disrupt your business operations. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these risks.

Security awareness is the responsibility of all employees
Security awareness is the responsibility of all employees.
Social Engineering Attacks

Spam and phishing calls, texts, and emails are everywhere we look—or hear—and these individuals craft their messages in the most believable ways. A relative in the need of some help or your supervisor asking you to buy some gift cards are some of the most common forms the phishing and spam messages might take. The constant barrage of threats requires you to keep a vigilant and informed eye on them. Before a bad actor can get access to the entire company’s vital data, an individual working in that company usually experiences an attack. The victim could be the CTO of a company, a receptionist, or the new intern—anyone is under the risk of a social engineering attack.

Scammers, hackers, and all other types of bad actors in this era of information technology are getting smarter, and we need to pull up our socks and get informed. It’s predicted that, by 2025, there will be an average of 10 devices per person, all connected to the internet and at risk of cyberattack. These devices need to be guarded—not only by cybersecurity services, but also by individual employees.

There are several types of threats out in cyberspace that bad actors deploy to gain access to an organization’s valuable data. The most common and widespread attacks are phishing, spear phishing, vishing, and smishing. Don’t be fooled by the names— these kinds of attacks pose a great deal of trouble unless they can be spotted before they have a chance to coerce or convince someone to unknowingly hurt their organization.

Phishing happens in the form of an email with malicious links or attachments that, if clicked, could give bad actors access to your system or persuade someone to divulge personal information in the form of passwords or credit card numbers. Spear phishing is a highly targeted form of phishing, aiming to attack and exploit one specific person. Spear phishing attacks typically include personal information about you that bad actors can find on social media or other online public forums. Smishing and Vishing are also phishing but in the form of a text message or a phone call.

Employees Can Fight Back By Getting Informed

Employees will need to be able to spot certain indicators that should make them pause before making a decision that might cause a security breach. Often, something will seem out of place with a phishing message, but your employees cannot know what to look for if they aren’t trained to see signs of malicious intent. Vigilance is critical in this scenario because bad actors are making sure that these markers are very difficult to spot. The information below can help employees begin to spot red flags:

  • Phishing through emails is the most common form bad actors choose to work with. The following points might not seem like much at first glance, but, if combined, these are a sure sign of a phishing attack:
    • Subject lines that have a sense of heightened urgency;
    • From unknown and/or unexpected email addresses;
    • Different ‘reply-to’ and ‘from’ email addresses;
    • Unusual days and times for the email to have been sent—like after work or extremely early on a Saturday;
    • Clearly noticeable grammar and spelling mistakes;
    • Unnatural wording;
    • Unexpected or suspicious links or attachments; or
    • An offer for a reward in the form of money or gift cards in exchange for an action that that needs to be taken.
  • Text messages also open organizations and people to the same security risks as emails, even though they are a different format. In the case of smishing, most of the red flags for phishing apply, but there are a few more that individuals should take note of:
    • The sender claims to be a company executive or direct report with an urgent need;
    • The number is different from the number that you might have saved;
    • Enquiring about personal information;
    • Requesting to follow a link or send money.
  • Vishing attacks, or phone call scams are very prevalent and commonly tend to prey on the elderly. These are mainly seen outside the workplace, but they do still pose a threat. The following are some common signs people need to look out for in the case of a vishing attack:
    • Unexpected calls from unrecognized numbers;
    • Caller requesting access to a digital device to solve an issue;
    • Caller threatening legal action and claiming to be from a government body, like the IRS;
    • Caller claiming you are a prize winner;
    • Caller requesting money in the form of gift cards or asking for personal information like bank details and credit card numbers;
    • Caller impersonating an executive, co-worker, or even a family member has found themselves in deep, generic trouble—like getting into a car accident or being arrested—necessitating immediate cash transfers, money wires, and more to get them out of trouble or harm’s way.

Organizations should put a Security Awareness Training program in place to help their employees gain knowledge and experience a behavioral transformation, which would further impact their ability to avoid causing breaches in your organization’s network. Such initiatives ensure everyone in the company is aware of the risks that exist in the digital landscape, and they make decisions that are in the best interests of the organization’s overall security. Each employee is responsible for their organization’s cybersecurity, and if they treat all the information they have access to as a section of the overall information system, the overall system will have significantly higher chances of being secure. If your organization would like to learn more about implementing a Security Awareness Training program, contact Aunalytics today.