In the online world, it appears that no one is out of bounds to hackers and other cyber criminals looking to steal personal information and sensitive data. As well as the large corporations that regularly hit the headlines due to security breaches, individuals, small businesses and start-ups are being targeted with a number of hacking techniques. Phishing is just one practice used by cyber criminals, and unfortunately incidents are on the rise. Phishing attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated, and whilst in previous years, it was easy to spot a scam, it’s more difficult than ever to decipher authenticity. Intel revealed that 97% were unable to identify a sophisticated phishing email.

Some 76% of organisations worldwide experienced phishing attacks last year. The recent GDPR deadline also saw a new wave of phishing emails dispersed with fraudsters conning people out of thousands as a result. Knowing how to spot a phishing email offers a vital form of protection for those looking to protect personal and professional data. For organisations, educating employees about how to spot the signs of phishing can rectify one of the most easily exploited vulnerabilities. Here we take a closer look at how to spot a phishing email so you can protect your business from attack.

Look for unprofessional hallmarks

The big brands most of us have email communications with have dedicated departments stocked with overly qualified people to create email marketing content, a fact that makes bad grammar, spelling mistakes and other unprofessional hallmarks unlikely or rare occurrences. Errors do happen of course, brands are only human, but bad grammar and poor spelling in titles or used repeatedly are tell-tale signs of a phishing scam.

With the rise of email personalisation, email communications are likely to be addressed to you by name. If your name is missing or the email reads “Hello [blank]”, alarm bells should be ringing.

Pay attention to the subject

Many phishing emails use scare tactics to get the recipient to take immediate action. Such phishing email subjects include “Thanks for signing up…”, “your account has been compromised”, “your delivery is waiting for you”, which can lead people to hit panic stations. Even if the email looks genuine, use of scare tactics and prompts to click a link to visit an external site should be handled with care. In addition to this, questioning whether you initiated the action in the first place will often tell you all you need to know.

You should pay attention to the email address that the email has been sent to. Is it the address you registered with in the first place? The URLs in the email or domain name in the sent address may also be misleading or mismatched.

Avoid offers that are too good to be true

As the saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably is. This sentiment is true of most phishing email messages. Phishing attack tactics have indeed become more sophisticated but you’ll still be greeted by the lottery wins and unclaimed inheritance scams of yesteryear. Think twice and think logically before responding!

A specialist IT Company based in Corby, Northamptonshire, Syntec Systems provide expert IT Solutions and IT Support services to businesses in the local area. Syntec Systems specialise in IT Management, IT Consultancy and IT Procurement, and their experienced technicians also offer a 24/7 helpdesk service to help resolve untimely IT Issues for all businesses with no prior contract.