Go Fish might be an enjoyable game, but go phish is a game that you won't enjoy at all. Phishing emails are not just annoying, they can be devastating to your insurance agency. They can compromise your cybersecurity and the security of your clients. You might think that your employees would never click on an email that would put your business at risk, but you could be surprised. What are the most common phishing tactics, and how can you avoid them?
1. An Invitation to Click on a Link
According to CSO Online, phishing often looks like a mass mailing in which "Someone sends an email pretending to be someone else and tries to trick the recipient in doing something, usually logging into a website or downloading malware." If you get an attractive discount offer sent to you that requires you to click on this link or open this attachment, it's quite possibly too good to be true. It could also look like a prompt to change your information or a reminder about an overdue bill. Phishing scammers have designed these emails to look like ones that you'd get every day.
2. An Email From a Client, Colleague, or Partner
Phishing emails aren't always from a generic organization such as your delivery provider. Instead, they can look like an email from one of your clients or even from a partner you've worked with in the past. Phishing scams use that email to mask their intentions and to make it easier to get people to click on links, attachments, and photos.
3. An Address That Is Just About Right
While you might know that you can hover over a link to see if it actually sends you to the correct site, you could still be tricked. That's because hackers take advantage of our tendency to read quickly. If you move quickly over the words in a link, you might not notice that it has an extra letter. That extra letter sends you to a site that looks like a parallel of the one you expect, except that it's designed to take your information. Always read very closely.
4. Directed and Customized Attacks
While phishing attacks send out a wide net to see who bites, spear phishing attacks target high-value organizations. For instance, a hacker may target an insurance agency that has customers' valuable banking information. These spear phishing campaigns are very well-customized and could look like an email from a client with more personal information about your business, such as the fact that you just presented at a conference. According to The News Minute, "What this essentially means is that the hacker gets to know you and can gather as much as information as possible about you before sending you that email." While these attacks often target large organizations, you should be aware that the possibility exists and all offers and emails should be screened for suspicious attachments and links.
Avoiding Phishing Attacks and Improving Your Cybersecurity
How can you avoid phishing attacks? Education is the key. While you might think that virus software is your first line of defense, your employees are the true key to protecting your agency. After all, they are the ones who will analyze incoming emails and determine whether it's safe to open that link or that attachment. Through training and ongoing development and assessment of your cybersecurity policies, you can help ensure that your business is protected against cyber attacks. You'll also need to stay abreast of the shifts in phishing strategies so that you can constantly update your employees and your internal practices at your agency.
At American Agents Alliance, we provide opportunities for networking and learning so that you can discover more about emerging issues in the industry such as cybersecurity. Contact us today to learn more about our many membership benefits.