Spam, Phishing, and Spyware- What you should be looking out for

The common trends

Gaining access to computer systems via Spam, Phishing, and Spyware has been a common method for hackers for many years. These intrusions could push your company into the ground and cost potentially, millions of pounds in lost sales or damages.

It is important to educate yourself and your employees on these three common methods in order to make sure your business stands more of a chance of escaping a cyber attack.

Spam, Phishing, and Spyware

 

Spam

The first method which must be mentioned as a common cause of computer intrusion is spam. Spam is simply any unsolicited electronic content, more commonly known as junk mail. This can take the form of a text message, phone call or an email message. Spam emailing, in particular, is quite common and can often contain some form of scam or virus.

You can prevent your company from falling victim to scams from spam messages by teaching your employees to ask themselves some simple questions whilst using the company email system.

Do you know the sender?

If the employee does not recognise the sender’s name, the chances are, the email is spam. Any ambiguity in this situation and the employee should not open the email.

Is the spelling and grammar poor?

More often than not, spammers intentionally misspell words or use them incorrectly to sneak emails past your companies spam filter. Wise Geek explains that anti-spam software files emails by analysing the text of an email for specific keywords related to the subject of the message. By deliberately spelling words incorrectly, spam emails are able to slip through the cracks with taking away the intended meaning of the text.

Make sure your employees are keeping an eye out for this trick!

Does it sound too good to be true?

Have you ever heard of the phrase; ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch?” It seems like this is a mantra which fits into every single possible scenario, and it is no different for email spam. If the content of the email sounds too good to be true, the chances are, it probably is!

Is it in your spam folder?

If your spam filter has sent an email to your spam folder, more often than not, it’s it meant to be! Many people consider spam to be irritating yet harmless. However, the majority of computer viruses are implemented via email- how do they get in? Via spam!

Make sure your employees know the danger of opening messages that go straight to their spam folders. Messages that your system has marked as spam should not be opened.

 

Moreover, company policies regarding computer use can be an effective way to reduce the impact that spam has on your system. At a minimum, your policy should require your employees to;

  • Turn off computers before leaving the office each day. Spam and viruses can strike a computer at any time when it is sitting idle and still connected to the internet.
  • Keep work email communications separate from personal communications. Employees should use a personal email that is not connected to the company email for personal communications.
  • Limit the amount of time employees can spend on social media sites (for example, only allow them to use the sites during breaks), or prohibit their access entirely during the working day.

Phishing

Phishing is a fraudulent email or pop up used to lure unsuspecting internet users into giving away personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. These emails tend to be very persuasive and believable if the hacker is impersonating a well-known organisation or individual.

It is important to not only protect your company from phishing scams but also your employees. Make sure your employees are extremely wary of urgent emails for any personal or financial information. If they are unsure, it doesn’t take long to pick up the phone to make sure the inquiry is genuine. Most companies will have a number listed on their corporate website or even in the phone book. In addition to this, it is essential not to use likes included in any suspect emails unless you are certain that the email is legitimate. Have a look at the URL and gauge whether it looks genuine or not. Finally, do not divulge personal or financial information online unless the website is secure. The majority of websites now will have ‘HTTPS’ authentication as Google tries to increase worldwide web security levels.

Spyware

Spyware is a piece of software that can be installed on a computer without the user’s permission. This is usually as a result of the user opening an attachment and downloading an infected file from an untrusted source. Spyware can be used by hackers to ‘spy’ on internet users, tracking browsing habits and collect personal information such as credit card numbers.

Has your computer slowed down recently? Do pop-ups appear when the user is offline? Have you noticed some of your internet browser settings are modified? Maybe some new shortcuts, icons or toolbars?

These are all vital signs that spyware may be installed on your computer. Most spyware is installed when users download free files from the internet. It is essential that your employee internet usage policy has a clause banning employees from opening or downloading personal files on work machines.

Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will offer security software to businesses at no charge, so be sure to ask. It is important to be vigilant and cautious about the content your employees open while using the internet. Risky employee internet use can have serious consequences for your company.

 

For more information about safe internet use and developing an employee internet use policy, contact CyberBee today.

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