A warning has been issued to billions of Gmail and Outlook users: avoid clicking the email link that can ruin your device and bank account. The warning pertains to an email scam that involves fraudulent emails from Gmail and Outlook, which spreads Qbot malware through attachments. The emails claim to have an important message from a known source and encourage the recipient to open the attachment. Once opened, the malware can steal confidential information and allow hackers to gain control of the victim's computer.
Qbot malware is a malicious software that steals sensitive information from computers, allowing hackers to gain unauthorized access. It can spread through email attachments and take control of the victim's device, compromising banking credentials, personal information, and other sensitive data.
In the current digital era, cybersecurity is a significant concern. Ensuring that your personal and professional information remains secure from potential risks is crucial, given our increasing reliance on email communication.
Although renowned email providers such as Gmail and Outlook have implemented numerous security protocols to shield their users, the danger of phishing attacks remains. Consequently, staying updated with current events and adopting preventive measures to safeguard your personal and professional data is vital.
In this article, we'll examine some best practices for defending company email accounts and why staff training is essential no matter what cybersecurity measures you are running.
What are Phishing Attacks?
Phishing attacks are a type of cybercrime that targets individuals by sending fake messages, generally through email. These messages appear reliable, tricking the recipient into giving up personal information like credit card numbers, login credentials, and other sensitive data. The primary goal of these attacks is centered around obtaining the victim's personal information.
The attackers can use this information for various criminal activities. Phishing attacks use social engineering techniques to manipulate the victim to click on a link or download an attachment that generally contains malware. Once the malware is in the victim's computer, the hacker can access confidential information.
Cybersecurity Essentials for Email Protection
Emails have become the center of our professional communication. However, emails also have become a prime target for hackers. Shockingly, up to 90% of cyberattacks against businesses originate from malicious emails. So, here are the best email security practices to stay protected from phishing attacks:
Make Your Passwords Stronger
The use of a simple password should not be taken for granted. Creating and memorizing complex passwords is crucial to safeguard your sensitive data from being compromised. But what exactly constitutes a strong password? Here are some things you should consider to strengthen your password:
Your password should be at least 12 characters long. This is because longer passwords are harder to crack.
A strong password should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Avoid using easily guessable words or sequences of letters, such as "password" or "123456".
Using the same password for multiple accounts is a significant security risk. Always create a unique password for each website or service you use.
Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
This is an excellent tool for ensuring the trustworthiness of your account's cyber security. Before granting someone access to a user's account, 2FA makes them provide two distinct identity characteristics.
This prevents hackers from breaking in even if they have the password. Using two-factor authentication to secure your online accounts is easy, and hassle-free. In addition, it will drastically complicate hacker’s attempts to gain access and should be considered as a mandatory practice for any company serious about protecting employee online security.
Never Give Your Business and Personal Passwords to Anyone
It's crucial never to give your password to anyone, regardless of the circumstances. Reputable email providers will never call or contact you to ask for your password. So, if someone claims to be associated with a service and asks for your password, it's undoubtedly a fraudulent attempt.
You should also maintain the privacy of your password, even when discussing password strength with close friends. It's essential to treat your username and password with utmost seriousness and keep them out of reach from others at all times. It's also important to avoid writing your password down on a note or any other easily accessible place. If you're finding it challenging to stay on top of your online security, 2FA is made for you.
Check your email's privacy and security settings.
Regularly examining and adjusting your email provider's privacy and security settings is imperative to protect your private information. A few minutes every few months can help ensure that all your data is safe.
As a Gmail user, ensuring your account's security is vital. Adding extra contact details can prove helpful in case of unauthorized login attempts by someone other than you. It gives Google an alternate way to contact you if they detect any suspicious activity from your account and ensures prompt notifications and verification requests.
You can also monitor your account's activity by checking for unauthorized access attempts. To check when you last accessed your Gmail, scroll down to the bottom-right corner of your screen. Reviewing these settings regularly can help ensure your email account is as secure as possible.
Be Cautious Before Clicking
It's crucial to exercise caution before clicking on any links in an email to protect yourself from email-based cyber threats. Always double-check that the domain name is trustworthy and recognizable, and be wary of suspicious links. It's worth noting that companies may use link shorteners and UTM codes to track email interactions, which can make links appear suspicious.
In this case, it's best to avoid clicking on any links you are unsure about. For example, If you get an email telling you about a significant sale from your preferred retailer, resist the urge to immediately click on any tempting links, buttons, or images.
It is far preferable to go directly to the shop website and do further research than to immediately believe the information. This extra step can help protect you from potentially harmful links and secure your email and personal information.
Install antivirus software
Antivirus software installation is necessary to safeguard your computer's security. This comes with built-in tools that scan incoming email attachments and prevent access to potentially harmful websites before you can click on them. This is important because many cyber threats are spread through malicious software that can infect your computer if you unintentionally download or click on them.
This software also provides an early warning system by identifying and removing unwanted software like viruses, Trojans, etc. This defense mechanism helps protect against malware attacks that can damage your computer significantly and jeopardize your personal information.
Separate Your Email Accounts
Many individuals maintain both personal and business email accounts, sometimes even having multiple accounts within each category. You must never send work-related emails from your personal account or private emails from your business account.
Using your work email address for non-business purposes can introduce security risks, potentially jeopardizing the company. Maintaining distinct personal and business accounts is important for ensuring the security of your work-related information.
If you do this, you can protect yourself from the dangers of having a personal account compromised, which could put all associated data at risk. Keeping separate accounts helps ensure that your private information remains safeguarded at all times.
Connect Exclusively to Reliable Wi-Fi Networks
Whether you work in an office or remotely, always connect to the internet via a dependable Wi-Fi network with WPA protection to enhance your data security. Public wireless networks are notorious for being prime targets for hackers. While logged into your email account on a public network, someone can easily monitor your activities and access private data.
To safeguard yourself from such risks, utilize a trustworthy VPN service for secure browsing. Using a trusted Wi-Fi network ensures your data remains protected and secure through strict access controls, robust firewalls, and a dedicated administrator who oversees all activities.
This offers users confidence that their personal information will remain private, as the secure transmission method minimizes the likelihood of data leakage. Devices connected to this type of network are far safer than those linked to ordinary networks due to these safeguards.
Educate Your Staff on Email Security Best Practices
To safeguard both your organization and your employees, it is crucial to go beyond simply mastering the suggested email security practices yourself.
Regularly incorporate email security best practices into the training provided to all your team members. Moreover, revisit these guidelines frequently to ensure everyone consistently recalls and adheres to them.
Why is Cybersecurity Training Important?
The impact and reach of the digital world are continually expanding, both professionally and personally. With more and more business operations relying on technology, it's vital to ensure that staff members use technology responsibly and that security protocols are strong and effective.
However, while remote and mobile work is necessary and beneficial, it also creates a vulnerability for cybercriminals to exploit weak security protocols and staff members' disregard for best practices.
Cybersecurity is undoubtedly as crucial as physical security for businesses that conduct any or all of their operations online. Here are some of the most important reasons for cybersecurity training:
Human error is a significant factor in cyberattacks. Effective security depends on having employees who have received the proper training. When staff members are given the information and confidence to identify security risks and how to handle and escalate concerns appropriately, a robust security training program can promote cybersecurity awareness.
By regularly providing cybersecurity awareness training, companies are reminded of the importance of user tech safety instruction and can develop a culture of security awareness. The more trained your staff are, the better they will be to protect your company. Also, you will be better prepared.
Compliance with Regulations
Many business operations are subject to legal or regulatory requirements to guard against the various risks associated with digital activities. According to recent research on IT compliance, 83% of the participants plan to examine or purchase new technologies in 2021 to improve and automate their compliance and risk management procedures.
The same survey also revealed that 61% of the participants had at least one cybersecurity issue or compliance slip-up in the previous three years. Violating compliance regulations is not an option if your company deals with sensitive, private, or confidential information. Improper handling of records can damage your company's image and bottom line.
By implementing a cybersecurity education program, you can increase your company's security and support compliance efforts by ensuring staff members know compliance guidelines and how to handle confidential information safely.
Boost Client Confidence
The risks associated with cybersecurity have become increasingly concerning for consumers. As customers become more informed, businesses must adapt by implementing solutions and tools that demonstrate their cyber resilience to boost customer trust.
According to a Ponemon survey, 31% of customers reported that they stopped doing business with a compromised firm after a data breach. Furthermore, 65% of those who lost faith in the organization as a result of one or more breaches shared their opinion. These figures demonstrate how crucial it is to have a robust security posture.
Cybersecurity training is an asset that every company should have at its disposal. It will help mitigate cybersecurity risks by ensuring staff members adhere to standard practices. Customers will have greater confidence in a company and be more inclined to do business with them if they know the company is taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity.
Lowering the Threat
A cybersecurity awareness campaign significantly reduces the risks that can result from data breaches and other threats to cybersecurity.
Employees who receive cybersecurity awareness training are aware of the best information security procedures, software, and tools used at work on a daily basis, such as websites, email, and social media. Employees who receive cybersecurity awareness training are also more informed about typical social engineerings threats like hacking and spear phishing.
Phishing simulations can be used to take this a step further. In these simulations, employees receive mock emails that mimic real-life phishing attempts. This tool can be used to assess their knowledge about cyberattacks as well as their responses to phishing emails, enabling the identification of people who may benefit from further training.
Reduced Expenses and Downtime
Australian firms are estimated to suffer losses of $29 billion annually from cybercrime and experience at least 25 hours of downtime. In the best-case scenario, small or startup businesses are forced to shut down completely, making investing in high-quality security training to avoid such consequences worthwhile.
Effective training and better security measures can help employees identify intrusions and respond quickly to minimize potential damage. According to statistics, detecting an intrusion typically takes employees 286 days. Still, this time can be significantly reduced with the right detection strategies.
With today's reliance on technology, the dangers of cyber threats continue to rise. Cybersecurity has become a top priority for both individuals and businesses. Of these threats, phishing is among the most treacherous. These fraudulent emails aim to deceive users into sharing confidential information that can be used for malicious purposes.
Email still maintains its position as one of the primary ways we communicate digitally, so it is essential to remain cautious against potential attacks. That’s why we have compiled a list of cybersecurity essentials for protecting your email in this article. Contact us today if you want a cybersecurity service for you or your organization.