Phishing: not a relaxing pastime but a toxic attack used in an attempt to defraud someone of financial information. The most manipulative part of phishing? The attackers pose as someone legitimate.
Most everyone is now familiar with the term “phishing” and has probably seen a few of these emails themselves. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen over the course of the past few years. Remember the fake emails from the IRS a while ago? Terrible. I’ve even seen official-looking emails complete with a bank’s real logo. If you were to compare these phishing attempts to legitimate emails, you’d never know they were fake.
Today’s phishing emails are just as clever as they were back then. But what scares me is that they are much more effective.
Let me give you an example: Say you are an accounting clerk for a company and the owner or vice president of finance sends you an email asking you to arrange a wire transfer. The name the person uses is correct and the email looks legitimate, with the proper email address. Now if your company doesn’t normally do wire transfers, you’d probably know something was not right. But many companies today use wire transfers in the course of everyday business. In this case, a quick and simple email addressed to you with your VP’s name may be enough to get past you.
We all like to think our company would catch something like that and we’d be able to stop a fake transfer. But the reality is that it happens – even to those of us who are careful.
The best defense against phishing is education.
You should take a few minutes to discuss phishing scams with your accounting department. Also spend time developing strong internal procedures for how your team handles wire transfers.
Nearly all phishing emails have a few common components:
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