Industry Insights

Empowering Your Employees Identify and Neutralize Phishing Threats

how SMBs can prevent phishing attacksCybersecurity is more vital than ever for businesses to not only be aware of the threats, but have measures in place to prevent and mitigate the risks of a cyber attack. In fact, 41% of small businesses fell victim to a cyber attack in 2023, a rise from 38% in the 2022 report and close to double from 22% in 2021. SMBs are often more vulnerable and are targeted more because of budget constraints and smaller IT teams to handle issues, hence why hackers like to attack them.  


Understanding Phishing and Spam

Not all spam is a phishing attempt so it’s important to get the terms right when talking about different kinds of cybersecurity risks. Spam is unsolicited, irrelevant emails sent to a large number of recipients with a variety of nefarious goals. Phishing on the other hand is when hackers try to trick a user into thinking they’re someone else, usually another company they’ve had contact with, and they’re trying to get sensitive information from the user like login credentials or financial details. They mimic trustworthy sources, luring users into clicking on malicious links. Phishing scams can be very sophisticated compared to a simple spam email with things like entire dummy sites with pages and links designed to look like a legitimate company they’re mimicking.  


Educational Initiatives:

The first step in arming employees against cyber threats is education. Phishing scams intentionally target internal employees at all levels to trick them into clicking on links or do things like show a fake login page for a business they’re familiar with in order to get login credentials. Regular training sessions should be conducted to familiarize employees with the various forms of phishing and spam. These sessions should cover:

  1. Common Red Flags:
    • Generic Greetings: Phishing emails often use generic greetings like “Dear Customer” instead of addressing the recipient by name.
    • Urgency: Cybercriminals create a sense of urgency to prompt immediate action, such as clicking on a link or providing sensitive information.
    • Suspicious Links: Employees should be cautious of links in emails, especially if the URL appears misspelled or altered.
  2. Sender Verification:
    • Instruct employees to verify the sender’s email address, ensuring it matches the official domain of the purported sender.
    • Caution against opening emails from unknown or unexpected sources, especially those requesting sensitive information.
  3. Attachments:
    • Advise employees to exercise caution when opening email attachments, especially if the email is unexpected or comes from an unknown sender.
    • Encourage the use of reliable antivirus software to scan attachments for potential threats.
  4. Phishing Simulation Exercises:
    • Conduct regular phishing simulation exercises to provide employees with hands-on experience in identifying and avoiding phishing attempts.
    • Use these simulations to reinforce training and highlight real-world scenarios that employees may encounter.


Implementing Technological Safeguards:

While education is critical, technological safeguards play a complementary role in defending against cyber threats. Email filtering like Mimecast, MFA tools like Okta, and doing regular security updates are great places to start when developing a counterstrategy to phishing email.

  1. Implement Email Filtering:
    • Utilize advanced email filtering solutions to automatically detect and quarantine suspicious emails before they reach employees’ inboxes.
    • Regularly update and configure filters to adapt to evolving phishing techniques.
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):
    • Enforce MFA to add an extra layer of security, requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before accessing sensitive systems or data.
    • Educate employees on the importance of MFA and guide them in its proper implementation.
  3. Security Updates:
    • Ensure all software, including email clients and antivirus programs, is regularly updated to patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals.
    • Encourage employees to enable automatic updates and promptly install patches.


Creating a Culture of Vigilance

Fostering a culture of vigilance is integral to a robust cybersecurity posture. Businesses can achieve this by:

  1. Open Communication Channels:
    • Establish open lines of communication for employees to report suspicious emails or potential security incidents promptly.
    • Emphasize a no-blame policy to encourage reporting and learning from security incidents.
  2. Regularly Reinforce Training:
    • Cybersecurity education should not be a one-time event. Reinforce training regularly to keep employees informed about the latest threats and techniques.
    • Provide resources such as infographics, newsletters, and posters to reinforce key cybersecurity principles.
  3. Recognize and Reward Vigilance:
    • Implement recognition and reward programs to acknowledge employees who exhibit exemplary cybersecurity awareness.
    • Showcase success stories and use them as examples to inspire others.


Phishing isn’t likely to go away any time soon so businesses need to be on the alert for risks to their network and data. If someone at your company believes they’ve engaged with a phishing scam (clicked one of their links or “logged in” to their site), then it needs to be reported to their IT engineer for immediate investigation. A quick response could make a difference on how well the risk is mitigated. Working with an IT outsourcing company like BNC in Denver and Dallas is a great first step in coming up with basic measures to prevent phishing attacks. Initial email filtering can do a lot to prevent this, but employee education will certainly be an element that needs to be addressed by business owners. Following that, a plan to secure and take action when a phishing attack is suspected will be necessary.

Get In Touch With BNC For Cybersecurity Help

At BNC, our unwavering commitment to cybersecurity excellence extends beyond words. We stand firm in our dedication to empowering employees with the knowledge and tools necessary to identify and neutralize cyber threats like phishing and spam. With a specialized focus on IT outsourcing in Dallas, our team is poised to elevate your organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Recognizing the unique challenges businesses encounter, particularly in the dynamic Dallas market, our holistic approach encompasses continuous education, cutting-edge technological safeguards, and the cultivation of a vigilant corporate culture. As you embark on fortifying your digital resilience, consider BNC as your trusted partner. Contact us today to explore how our IT outsourcing services in Dallas can bolster your cybersecurity posture and pave the way for a secure and resilient future.



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