How to Identify a Phishing Scam

How to Identify a Phishing Scam

As your organization continues to grow, you'll inevitably find you must contend with threats meant to harm your operations and the success you've built for your clients, employees, and colleagues.

If you devote the resources to maintaining a focus on cybersecurity, your organization can build the culture of security it needs to fend off these attempts to take advantage. And while the methods used to scam organizations are always evolving, there are many cues that remain a constant.

When the Signs Point to a Scam

Although scammers may attack your data, the methods they use have a notable overlap that shows malicious intent. These signs span the many kinds of phishing scams that you and your associates may come across in your professional careers. 

Is It Addressed Properly?

Corporations do not send out emails or texts en masse intending to collect information without addressing the recipient by name, and neither do governments or regulatory agencies.

You, your colleagues, and your employees should be personally addressed in texts, and especially in every email. Not only is it a massive business faux pas to not address a recipient by name, but it is also a general indicator of attempted infiltration. 

Also watch out for misspellings from a colleague or employer with whom you are familiar. This shows that a scammer completed some basic digging to collect your personal information, but that they have not gleaned enough to know the proper spelling of your name. 

Check the Domain

Most business emails come from a business domain. Rarely will emails come from a personal email - especially if the email demands any sensitive information.

Another thing to look out for is domain spoofing, in which a scammer creates a website or email domain that looks almost identical to one that would contact you. For example, if a website link or email domain looks slightly “off” or maybe includes characters from another alphabet, the link or texts are probably a phishing attempt. Many cybersecurity training materials can show users how to spot the subtle differences.

Spelling, Grammatical, or Informational Errors

As a business leader or executive-level manager, you are aware of how the company works. You are also in a professional position that demands utmost care to keep official communication concise and correct. Should you receive an email or text that does not sound like your colleague or another executive, or that contains low-quality wording or downright incorrect information, it would be safe to suspect a scammer.

A Sense of Urgency

Most internal and external business operations run smoothly in the long term. While the occasional mishap pops up, it is unlikely to cause mass panic. It is also unlikely that an employer or regulatory institution would send out frantic emails or texts.

The management staff in almost any organization will have enough experience to foresee and prevent many issues before they arise. Anything truly urgent would not involve asking for sensitive data. An email or text that requires you to hand over information immediately is a big red flag, and it shows a scammer trying to create a false sense of urgency. 

Better Safe than Sorry

Phishing can be difficult to detect and very dangerous, which is why you’ll want to be cautious with suspected scam messages. It’s better to take a moment to double check for the warning signs before clicking on any links or responding to the message. 

Consider hosting a cybersecurity training to help your team navigate through these issues with confidence and keep your business data safe.

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