Phishing Emails - What are they, What to Look For and Steps To Take

What are phishing emails?

Even though this is one of the simplest types of cyberattacks, phishing emails are also one of the most effective. It usually happens in the form of an email which appears to come from a trustworthy source, but is actually a fraudulent attempt to “bait” the user into giving up privileged information.

Hackers might be after your personal information, such as passwords or bank accounts, or they might be phishing for your Agency’s proprietary data. Either way, the consequences could be devastating, ranging from massive breaches to individual identity theft.

Laptop Computer with Virus Alert on screen

What to Look For

These malicious emails often contain harmful links or attachments. While some of these emails are generic, poorly written, and easy to spot, others leverage real information to mimic trusted senders requesting sensitive data. 

According to a recent study by Mimecast, impersonation attacks grew by 24% between January and June 2020. The study, which analyzed more than 195 billion emails, found that these attacks typically use subject lines containing words like “invoice,” “order,” “PO,” or the names of well-known courier or shipping companies. 

Users are getting smarter, but so too are cybercriminals with new and unique strategies that seem impossible to keep up with – especially since they go undetected by antivirus software.

Steps to Take 

You should always be wary of what links you follow, files you download, and sensitive information you provide. If you’re not diligent, you could give hackers your bank account number, Social Security number, or access to personal records, leading to a whirlwind of trouble.

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