The Dangers of Online Phishing Scams and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

The Dangers of Online Phishing Scams and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

In a world that becomes more and more dependent upon technology every day, the question of cyber security becomes a critical issue that businesses need to take very seriously. In the blink of an eye, one uninformed decision could leave a business not only in severe financial jeopardy, but could also compromise the personal information of their clients as well as their employees. Catastrophic cyber hacking events such as this happen every single day, but the good news is that they are almost always preventable if employees are educated on how to handle their online presence, and what strong cyber security looks like.

A cyberattack could come in the form of a multitude of things, but one of the most common types is online phishing. This is often in the form of an email or a pop-up window that comes up while you are browsing the internet. We all know that we aren’t supposed to open spam emails or click on the random pop-ups that say we’ve won a million dollars, but these days it is becoming far less obvious to tell what is a scam and what isn’t. In some cases, phishers can actually make it look like you are receiving an email from a reputable source, such as an employer, colleague, or business and try to request sensitive information. Not so easy to tell, huh? This is where it takes a slightly keener eye to determine what is legitimate and what isn’t.

If you think you recognize the sender, but feel a little skeptical as to the nature of their message, then the best plan of action is always to verify with that person or company by another form of communication such as a text message or phone call. It is so important that you never click on any links from an email that you are even slightly suspicious about as this could redirect you to an unsavory website and/or install malware on your system, thus granting the phisher access to sensitive information or possibly encrypting your computer’s data and holding it for ransom.

There are several ways to identify an email as illegitimate with a little bit of careful scanning. For example, phishers may try and make an issue sound urgent or extremely important in an attempt to scare the reader into reacting. In reality, most legitimate senders will not try to intimidate the reader and will never request sensitive information such as passwords or social security numbers. Finally, one of the easiest ways to spot a false email is by checking the sender’s domain. If it looks like you’ve gotten an email from a company that you know, but the domain is entirely different, then it is certainly a phishing scam. Again, the best defense tactic is to not click on anything if you are even remotely skeptical.

Even with the most careful approaches, sometimes it can still be too hard to tell what is legitimate. An employee may click on a false link despite having all the proper training to identify a scam. Education is the obvious first line of defense, but there are other strategies that a company can employ to secure their systems. The first of these techniques is to have an up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware programs installed, which can help derail a potential threat and keep your system running cleanly. Businesses can also employ two-factor identification to help ensure that a hacker can’t gain access to an account even if they manage to get ahold of someone’s user credentials and password. Additionally, having a robust firewall in place can help ensure that employees can’t even access insecure or malicious links.  Finally, you must have a strong backup system in place to restore your data in the event that a cyberattack does occur.

At the end of the day, investing just a little bit of time into educating yourself and your employees on cyber security can go a long way. Especially in the healthcare field, patients are trusting you with not only their personal and financial information, but also their private medical records. A breach in security could be devastating from a legal perspective yes, but it could also do irreparable damage to your reputation as a company. Customers put their faith in you to keep their information safe, and if you fail to do so then they are likely to take their business elsewhere. There are a lot of online dangers out there that may put you and your clientele at risk, but the good news is that almost all of them are entirely preventable. Utilizing your best judgement and keeping an eye out for some of the common warning signs may end up saving you a lot of money and legal troubles, but will also ensure that you are providing the absolute best and most secure service to your customers.

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