Phishing attack

Prevent a phishing attack with advanced email threat protection.

Prevent a phishing attack with advanced email threat protection.

An alarming 91% of hacking attempts today begin with some kind of phishing attack1Phishing, spear-phishing attacks and whaling attacks are an attempt to gain access to confidential data by using email and social-engineering to dupe recipients into opening an attachment, clicking on a link, divulging confidential information or even wiring money to a fraudulent account. A phishing attack is often successful because it appears to come from a known or trusted source, often impersonating a C-level executive.

A phishing or spear phishing email attack can be remarkably difficult to identify. Even when employees are trained how to spot a possible phishing attack or CEO Fraud, 23% of phishing emails are still open2. With the potential for phishing scams to cause disruption to business operations, damage to reputation and loss of business costing millions of dollars, organizations urgently need a sophisticated solution for preventing a phishing attack.

1"How to Bridge the Email Security Language Gap Between IT and the C-Suite" – Mimecast blog post by Orlando Scott-Cowley, 10/2015

2”Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report”. Verizon Enterprise Solutions, April 2015

Stopping a phishing attack with Mimecast.

Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection provides a highly effective solution for preventing a phishing attack. Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection defends against malicious links in email, weaponized attachments and social-engineering attacks to protect users and organizations from the dangers of advanced threats.

Mimecast improves phishing email and spear security by scanning all inbound emails in real-time, providing three levels of protection:

  • URL Protect scans all URLs within incoming and archived emails, identifying websites that are potential risks before opening a clicked link in the user’s browser.
  • Attachment Protect opens attachments in a virtual environment or sandbox that is isolated from the corporate email system, and enables employees to access it only once it passes security checks.
  • Impersonation Protect scans incoming email to identify potential malware-less attacks that use social-engineering to spoof employees into making fraudulent wire transfers.

Benefits of Mimecast’s solution for a phishing attack.

With Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection, organizations can:

  • Prevent a phishing attack, spear phishing attack or whale phishing threat without the need for additional infrastructure or IT overhead.
  • Add instant protection for all devices with no disruption to end-users.
  • Activate the service quickly through Mimecast’s cloud platform.
  • Improve insight with end-to-end, real-time threat analysis and granular reporting.

Learn more about stopping a phishing attack or CEO Fraud and about Mimecast’s solution for spam email protection and ransomware detection.

FAQs: Phishing Attacks

What is a phishing attack?

A phishing attack is a cybercrime where attackers use an email, text or phone call that seems to come from a trusted or legitimate business to trick a recipient into revealing sensitive and valuable information such as passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card details and bank account information.

How does a phishing attack work?

The most common type of phishing attack involves an email that appears to be from a legitimate company and that urgently asks the recipient to visit a website by clicking on a link in the email. The message may suggest that there’s a problem with the user’s account, that someone is trying to hack their information, or that they need to confirm or change login credentials. The user is provided with a link that, when clicked, takes them to a fraudulent website that looks real, where they’re asked to provide information that attackers can use to access accounts to steal money or an identity. The website may also download malware to the user’s computer.

Why are phishing attacks successful?

Successful phishing attacks generally play on several factors:

  • Trust. By appearing to originate from a source that the user knows and trusts, phishing attacks bypass any suspicion about incoming email.
  • Fear. Many successful phishing attacks trick users into clicking a link by making them think there’s a problem that needs to be resolved quickly or that there will be consequences from a higher authority or a superior if they don’t respond quickly.
  • Lack of time. Attackers know that most of users are short on time and that they want to read and respond to an email as quickly as possible – which makes it more likely they won’t look closely at its content.
  • Volume. It’s very inexpensive to mount phishing attacks by sending large volumes of email, and attackers only need a few people to “take the bait” to make it worth their while.
  • Phishing attacks are increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to spot. Advanced attacks such as spear-phishing and whaling use social engineering techniques to convince recipients that an email is legitimate.

How to avoid phishing attacks?

The easiest way to avoid phishing attacks is to be suspicious. Users should avoid any messages that:

  • Are not addressed to a specific person.
  • Contain poor spelling and grammatical errors, which are common in phishing emails.
  • Ask the recipient to act quickly or that threaten the recipient.
  • Suggest there is a problem with an account, with a payment or that there has been suspicious activity on an account.
  • Asks the recipient to confirm or provide personal, sensitive information.
  • Contains a suspicious attachment or an invoice that appears to be fake.
  • Makes an offer that seems too good to be true.
  • Has a mismatch between the domain in an email address and the actual domain of the company, or between the URL provided in the body of the email and the address that appears when a cursor is hovered over it.

Organizations can block phishing attacks by providing security awareness training that communicates these principles to employees. Companies may also use anti-spam and anti-malware programs, along with DMARC authentication technology that is extremely effective at stopping phishing attacks. Additional technology includes services that scan email for malicious links and attachments and block users from accessing them, and services that are specifically designed to identify the hallmarks of advanced phishing attacks.

What to do after a phishing attack?

If you have unwittingly clicked on a link in a phishing email – or if you have mistakenly entered information into a phishing website – you should take these steps immediately:

  • Disconnect your computer from the Internet – this will prevent any malware from spreading and from sending information from your computer to attackers.
  • Notify your supervisor and/or your IT department. Don’t be embarrassed – many users fall prey to phishing attacks, and it’s better to report it as soon as possible.
  • Scan your computer for malware and viruses.
  • Change your login information. Immediately change your passwords for any accounts that the attackers may access with the information you have provided.
  • Report the phishing attack to your email provider, to the person or company the email appeared to be from, and to the nonprofit and government agencies that work to stop phishing: