Phishing scams have become increasingly prevalent in today’s digital landscape, posing a significant threat to individuals and organizations alike. These fraudulent tactics are designed to deceive unsuspecting individuals into divulging sensitive personal information, often with malicious intent.
In a corporate setting, these attacks trick employees into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment that unleashes malware or grants cybercriminals access to sensitive data. Employees need to know the different types of phishing schemes, so they can mitigate damage to the business by leading to system downtime, financial loss, reputational harm—or all three.
Here are five common phishing scams that employees should look out for:
Scam #1: HR Message Scam
The HR message scam is when scammers pose as the company’s human resources department, emailing employees about policy updates or company benefits.
The email usually has a sense of urgency and requires the employee to act by clicking on a link or downloading a file. If such an email is received, it’s essential to verify its authenticity before proceeding to avoid potentially compromising confidential information.
Employees can contact HR directly or forward the email to the department for verification.
Scam #2: Unusual Activity
This is a phishing scam where employees receive an email alerting them of suspicious activity on their accounts. The email often states that someone has attempted to access the employee’s account and typically prompts the target to click on a link to reset their password.
This unusual activity scam preys on the employee’s fear that their account’s been hacked and prompts them to take immediate action. Such emails must be cross-checked with IT or security personnel before responding or taking action.
Scam #3: Google Docs
The Google Docs scam starts when an unsuspecting employee receives an invitation email to edit a document through Google Docs. The link takes them to a fake Google login page, allowing the scammer to access the employee’s Google account.
The location of the invitation email likely won’t be within the company domain, so the email seems to be from someone outside the organization. It’s vital to remain cautious of email invitations from outside the business’s domain.
Scam #4: Email Account Upgrade
In this scam, an employee often receives an email indicating that their email account requires an upgrade.
The email looks legitimate and contains a link that the employee is “supposed” to click on to upgrade their account. However, clicking the link may lead to the download of malware that can grant scammers access to confidential information stored on the system. It’s crucial to note that the IT department, not email service providers, is responsible for upgrading employees’ email accounts.
Scam #5: Fake Invoice
Another common phishing scam, the fake invoice, tricks employees into paying false bills to fraudsters.
These fraudulent invoices appear to originate from vendors, requiring the employee to open an attachment or click a link to view the invoice in further detail. However, these attachments can contain malware that freezes the organization’s operations or extracts confidential information from the system. To avoid such scams, employees must verify all vendor emails and never click on unfamiliar attachments.
Prevention is Key
Phishing attacks are prevalent in the corporate world, and the only way to protect against them is by staying vigilant and informed of common scams.
Employees are at the forefront of an organization and are, therefore, primary targets of phishing scams. It’s the collective responsibility of all parties involved to protect their institutions from the consequences of phishing attacks. Educating employees on the different types of attacks and how to spot and avoid them is the first line of defense against these scams.
As information becomes more accessible, cybercriminals adapt their methods and tactics, seeking ever more sophisticated ways to gain access to confidential data. Therefore, it’s essential to have regular training and security checks to keep all employees informed and aware of potential schemes.