a fishing rod casting and catching a computer that is open to email

Foiling a Phishing Attack

Do you know how to keep your business protected from phishing attacks? According to a recent report, 66% of companies experienced a phishing attack in 2020. Not ideal—especially with so many employees working virtually during this time. Phishing is a cyberattack where the attacker tricks the target into disclosing personal information. This typically looks like an imposter pretending to be a reputable company and asking for access to login credentials, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information and occurs predominantly via email. 

While it can be easy to fall for a phishing attack without proper cybersecurity education surrounding the threat, it’s best to get in the know so your businesses’ important data isn’t compromised. There are a ton of ways data breaches can happen, and the effects aren’t exactly desirable. The main ways phishing attacks have become an increasing issue over the years is the fact that there are shadow IT issues, a need for granular management, and a lack of employee training.

And, let us be clear—cleaning up after a phishing attack isn’t easy or cheap. A report by IBM found that in 2020, the average business cost of a cyberattack is .86 million, and it takes over 200 days to detect the breach. Not only is your businesses’ compromised information worth money, but there are often heavy fines and remediation costs you’ll be expected to cover. Not to mention, you’ll have to spend the extra time and money on your employees so they can investigate and fix the breach. If this isn’t something you can swing and you need your employees to press on with their day-to-day jobs, you may have to consider the pricier option of hiring an outside firm.

Another lingering effect of a phishing attack is the loss of trust. You want to be seen as a competent and client-focused business—but that can be difficult in the midst of a data breach. Even if it was an accident and you’re doing everything you can to rectify the situation, it can be difficult to gain back the trust of those you serve. Becoming more educated about the risks and taking the initiative to institute a cybersecurity training program at your business will make all the difference in ensuring you maintain a trustworthy reputation.

Keep reading to learn about the different types of phishing attacks and how SmartFile has the solutions you need to keep your most valuable data safe from cyber threats.

The Multiple Types of Phishing Attacks

Did you know there are multiple types of phishing attacks? Unfortunately, the word “phishing” is simply an umbrella term used to cover various social engineering attacks. While most will be a masqueraded attempt to gain valuable information from the masses, certain phishing attacks can also target high-level individuals with access to sensitive data. We most commonly see phishing attacks by email, but they are also carried out by text messages, instant messaging, and even voice software. 

Cybercriminals are skilled at coercing people into sharing personal data with a fraudulent website designed to match the legitimate site’s look and feel. Often, the imposter site is barely indistinguishable from the authentic web page, making it difficult to spot anything to be suspicious about. 

To call out the different phishing attacks for what they are, you’ll first need to gain an understanding of each type:

Standard Phishing

Standard phishing is the most common type of phishing. This is the classic ruse where attackers imitate a trusted person or business in an effort to steal a person’s confidential data. Since they are executed primarily through email, there will be an attempt to create false urgency and panic, so the target feels rushed into complying with what the attacker asks.

For example, you may receive an email that says a specific account of yours has been compromised, and you’ll need to click on a link to correct a discrepancy ASAP.  Unbeknownst to many phishing attack victims, the link will actually redirect to a fake login page that easily collects login credentials, putting your secret information right into the attackers’ hands.

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing attacks are another type of phishing scam that targets specific organizations or individuals rather than the masses. In spear phishing, attackers often perform targeted observations and the utilization of personal data gathered on the target to increase the probability of successful infiltration.

Spear phishing attackers may use emails, social media, instant messaging, and other platforms to convince a targeted user to give up their personal information or perform actions that can cause large-scale issues. There are many different types of spear phishing attacks, and each targets a specific individual or entity. While you’ll likely see authentic-looking logos, there is a range of nuances to look out for.


Whaling is a type of spear phishing attack that aims specifically at senior executives and other high-profile targets. In these specialized campaigns, the fraudulent content will be fashioned in a way that targets upper-level management and other people with leadership roles in the company. In a whaling attack, email content may be an executive issue—like a serious customer complaint, compliance issue, subpoena, etc.

Like other phishing practices, whaling is known for its email and website spoofing methods that convince high-profile targets to reveal sensitive data, transfer money, or perform specific actions.

Clone Phishing

Clone phishing is a type of phishing attack where a previously delivered, legitimate email has had its content and recipient address(es) stolen by a cybercriminal. They will take this information and create a nearly identical replica of the original email. This “cloned” email will then makes its way back to the recipients with phishing traps inserted throughout. 

The email’s attachment or link will be strategically replaced with a malicious version and sent from an email address spoofed to appear like it’s coming from the original sender. This suspicious email may claim to be a resend of the original or an updated version to the original links/attachments. This typically indicates that the sender or recipient had been previously compromised for the attacker to obtain the legitimate email.

Voice Phishing

Voice phishing, also known as “vishing,” is a unique form of phishing that does not need to rely on malicious email attachments or fake websites. Vishing is accomplished during a phone call or other type of voice messaging solution and commonly uses Voice of IP (VoIP) technology. 

These deceptive voice messages often come from a bank or other financial institution, urging users to call a specific number to fix problems with their bank accounts. Once the phone number is dialed, frequently what will happen is that scheduled prompts advise users to enter their personal account numbers or PIN. Vishing may make use of a phony caller ID to look like the call originates from a trusted source.

SMS Phishing

SMS phishing, or “smishing,” is phishing carried out via text message. The attacker will use text messaging as a way to deliver the bait, using it to persuade people into divulging their sensitive information. Smishing attacks are known for directing the target to contact an email address, dial a number, or click a link provided by a cybercriminal through an SMS message. 

You know the drill by now: The victim will then be asked to provide private information, like credit card information or login info. A final thing to note is that SMS phishing messages may come from telephone numbers in unusual formats.

Safeguarding Your Business Against Phishing Attacks

Now that you know all about the different phishing attacks, you can work to avoid them altogether. After all, the best way to foil a phishing attack is to stop it before it happens! You don’t want to constantly put your enterprise at risk; a critical step to protecting your business is to become educated on phishing and other cyber threats

As a business owner, you should create a formal cybersecurity training plan that safeguards your business for the long-haul. While this may seem like an arduous task, the SmartFile team is well-known for providing corporations with the comprehensive file sharing and storage solutions they need to keep their most valuable information safe and secure.

One of the best things you can do to protect your business from phishing attacks is to inform your employees of the type of sensitive information your company deals with. Communicate that there are a lot of risks out there that should be mitigated. Cybersecurity threats should not be looked at as an out-of-sight, out-of-mind scenario, as this can have major consequences down the road. We have some creative and effective ways to ensure your important data stays safe.

Since phishing increased 42% in 2020 over 2019 figures, training your employees on what to look out for is not only important, it’s necessary. Cyber attacks are ever-evolving, so you’ll want to ensure your training initiatives are up-to-date and even implemented into your onboarding process. Cybercriminals are only becoming more convincing! With the right training, you’ll be able to spot phishing and other cyber threats effortlessly. 

It’s All About the Fine Details

When it comes to looking for the little details that could give away that a seemingly normal email is a malicious email, it takes a sharp eye. Here are some tell-tale signs that a suspicious email could be a phishing attempt:

  • The email is sent from a public domain: If the domain name (everything after the @ symbol) matches up with the sender of the email, the message will most likely be legitimate. You can normally tell if an email is phony if it was sent from a public domain. Important messages from your bank or even Google will never be coming from so and so at “@gmail.com”—make sure it’s coming from a private domain (“info@google.com). And remember: if there was a serious problem, legitimate entities will give you a phone call rather than send you an email.
  • The message creates a sense of urgency: Like mentioned, cybercriminals really use fear to make people panic into giving up their valuable information. The more urgency behind the message, the more likely a person will jump to rectify the “issue.” When we’re under the impression that something needs our attention immediately, especially when it comes to finances or services, it’s easy to overlook things that don’t seem right. Many scams will urge you to “act now before it’s too late,” when in reality, it’s just a plow to get you scared and rash.
  • The destination links are suspicious: While many of us aren’t trained to check links before mindlessly clicking, it’s imperative to form a habit of examining links. To check where the link goes before opening it, all you need to do is hover your mouse over the link. The destination address will then appear in a bar along the bottom of your browser (on mobile, you can hold down on the link, and a pop-up of the link will appear.) If you got the email from “Netflix” and the link is leading somewhere else, it’s likely a phishing scam.

You’ll also want to be aware of other social engineering attacks targeted at employees to strategically steal intellectual property, credentials, or money. Things like blackmail, social media hacking, and reverse social engineering are not uncommon these days. Even innocent typos can spell trouble! “Typosquatting” is a form of phishing where cybercriminals sit on a similar domain and wait for victims. Usually, the domain will only be a character or two off of the main brand’s domain. Cyber scammers will buy domain names that match a brand’s look and feel, making it feel fine to input information like login credentials or a credit card number. Stay on the lookout for these aspects even if it feels tedious—it’s better to be safe than sorry!

File Sharing Security

Chances are, your business handles sensitive data every day. Keeping this information safe is not only for the good of your businesses’ reputation but also for your customers’ and employees’ safety. It’s true that phishing attacks cost a pretty penny, and depending on the industry you’re in, the consequences of phishing attacks can even result in large-scale lawsuits. Keep your people and your business safe with SmartFile.

Our file sharing solutions allow users to access their files anytime, anywhere. This makes the need to send documents back and forth via email virtually obsolete. Not only is your information encrypted, but with comprehensive and reliable file sharing security, you won’t have to worry about your important data and documents getting lost or corrupted. We can solve any issues that arise, so you don’t have to! 

Not to mention, our advanced solution offers permissions control over who has access to certain files and will send email notifications regarding file and user activity. We provide visual tools and detailed logs so you can learn to identify potential threats and protect your data.

At SmartFile, our file sharing solution will help decrease the likelihood of a phishing attack at your business. While you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of one of your employees falling victim to a phishing scam, you can significantly reduce your risks and get some peace of mind with the help of our competent team. We’ll give you the training and on-going file sharing support you need to spot and foil any phishing attack that comes your way.

SmartFile’s file management system is the perfect solution for you and your business. Give SmartFile a try for free today – no credit card required!

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