I've Clicked on a Phishing Link, Now What?

You've clicked a phishing link; now what? Phishing, a deceptive technique employed by cybercriminals, continues to pose a significant threat to internet users worldwide. By disguising themselves as reputable entities, these attackers trick individuals into revealing sensitive information like passwords and social security numbers or granting access to important accounts. As this illegal practice continues to evolve and become more advanced, understanding how to respond to a potential phishing attack has become increasingly important.


Identifying the Telltale Signs of a Phishing Link

Recognizing the indications that you may have clicked on a phishing link is the first step in minimizing the potential damage. 

Here’s what to look for:

  • Unexpected pop-ups: Phishing websites often use pop-up windows to solicit personal information or to trick you into installing malicious software.
  • Requests for sensitive information: Be wary if a website asks for personal or financial details unrelated to the service or transaction you're engaging in.
  • Inconsistencies in website design: Phishing websites may have noticeable inconsistencies in their layout or design as they attempt to mimic the look of legitimate websites.
  • Unusual URL structures: Check the address bar for suspicious or misspelled domain names, extra characters, or unconventional URL naming.
  • Poor grammar or spelling: Phishing messages and websites often contain grammar or spelling errors, as cybercriminals are typically working fast and may not always be proficient in their target’s language.

Quickly taking action upon realizing you have fallen for a phishing scam is essential. This can prevent further unauthorized access to your accounts, mitigate the risk of financial loss and help protect others by reporting the phishing attempt.


Urgent Steps to Follow After Clicking a Phishing Link

After realizing you've clicked on a phishing link, it's imperative to act quickly to mitigate potential harm

Here are the actions you should take immediately:

Step 1 - Close the browser: Shut down the browser window or tab containing the phishing site to prevent further interaction or data exposure.

Step 2 - Disconnect from the internet: Disconnect your device from the internet, either by turning off Wi-Fi or unplugging the Ethernet cable, to stop any ongoing data transmission or malware installation.

Step 3 - Run a security scan: If you have an antivirus or anti-malware software installed, run a full system scan to detect and remove any threats that may have infiltrated your device.

Step 4 - Change your passwords: If you suspect your login credentials have been compromised, immediately change the passwords for all affected accounts, starting with the most critical ones (e.g., email, banking, and social media).

Step 5 - Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): To add an extra layer of security, enable 2FA on your accounts, which requires a secondary form of verification (such as a text message code) and your password.

Speed is crucial in these situations to help you minimize the risk of identity theft, financial loss, and the spread of malware to other devices or contacts.


Steps for Mitigating Damage and Bouncing Back From an Attack

After taking the immediate action steps listed above, to it's time to protect your digital assets and recover from any damage. Make sure your operating system, browsers, and security software is up to date, fortifying your device against emerging threats and lowering the chances of future attacks. 

Monitor your financial and other online accounts for an unauthorized activity or suspicious transactions. If you believe your contacts may be at risk, notify them of the situation and recommend precautions.

Enhancing your knowledge of phishing and cybersecurity best practices will empower you to recognize and evade scams, ultimately safeguarding your digital assets. By diligently following these steps, you can minimize the impact of a phishing attack, recover from any damage incurred, and bolster your defenses against cyber threats.



Prevention & Education for Enhanced Security

By keeping up with evolving cybercriminal strategies and embracing cybersecurity best practices, you can substantially reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks. 

Key preventive actions include vigilance when handling email attachments and links, closely inspecting sender addresses, and remaining alert to unsolicited requests for personal information. Establishing these habits now allows you to stay ahead of potential threats, ensuring the safety of your digital assets and confidential data.

Don't wait until it's too late! Contact our IT experts today to protect your network from phishing attacks and other cyber threats. With our team's knowledge and expertise, you'll gain peace of mind from knowing your digital assets and sensitive data are well-protected. Contact us now to discuss your unique needs and learn how we can help secure your network for a safer digital future.


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Image of a person looking at a laptop computer with a phishing scam alert on the screen.

Security Concerns for Business Owners in the Finance Space: Phishing, Malware and Ransomware Attacks

Businesses in the financial space play an integral role in keeping the economy thriving, so it’s no surprise they’re often the targets of phishing scandals. That is why we've compiled a list of security concerns for business owners in the finance space. Originally coined in 1996 by hackers stealing AOL accounts and passwords, Phishing gets its name from the sport of angling, where e-mail “lures” were set out to “fish” for passwords and financial data from the “sea” of internet users. The “lures” used in phishing attacks are often quite convincing, pretending to be a trusted entity in order to trick the victim into opening an email or text message. Once clicked, that link often leads to malware being installed on the victim’s system as part of a ransomware attack to steal sensitive information. The attackers then use this information to access accounts, make transfers, or commit credit card fraud. Attackers can also sell the information on the black market.


What is Phishing?

Chart displaying phishing scams by industry

Image source: Phish Labs

Phishing attacks can cause devastating losses to businesses in the financial space - including declining market share, financial losses, and the destruction of their reputation and customer trust. In 2021, cybersecurity experts and IT professionals noted a record-breaking increase in cyberattacks. According to Check Point Research, cyberattacks increased 50% year-over-year, with an estimated 30,000 websites hacked every day. In their Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, Ponemon Institute and IBM noted a 10% increase in the average total cost of a data breach; increasing from $3.86 million to $4.24. This is the highest average total cost of a data breach ever recorded in the 17-year history of the report. 

When compared with other industries, at 41% the financial sector is the target of most phishing crimes, followed by social networking services (19%), and email services (17%). As the number, intensity, and variety of these cyberattacks continue to increase in 2022. Cybercriminals devise new strategies for launching sophisticated attacks. So, how can the financial industry protect itself?


What is BullPhish ID?

One of the best ways to help your financial company protect itself against phishing attacks is by educating your staff. BullPhish ID is one of the best tools to help your company accomplish that task. Upwards of 90% of all company security breaches aren’t caused by hackers, malware, or viruses; they’re caused by employees falling for phishing scams. BullPhish ID for MSPs is a cloud-based anti-phishing and educational tool that can help protect your company from phishing scams, while also training your employees to recognize phishing attacks and understand how to respond to them. The platform allows your business to deliver simulated security threats and phishing incidents in order to help educate and test your employees.


Pub 4557

Another way to protect your financial institution is to ensure you’re compliant with Pub 4557. This regulation provides the minimum requirements for electronic storage of records, including email. That means that your company must implement physical, technical, and administrative safeguards for storing and transmitting member information. While this compliance is important from a security standpoint, it’s also required by law.


How Can an MSP Protect Against Phishing Attacks?

Phishing scams can be truly devastating to your financial institution. The best defense against attacks is a strong offense. Working with an industry-leading Managed Service Provider (MSP) like Intuitive Networks means we can help alleviate your unique pain points - such as protecting against phishing attacks. Our business is centered around providing your financial institution with peace of mind, knowing that your company is protected. Whether you’re looking to protect your business against cyberattacks, or are interested in enhancing your infrastructure, our team of IT professionals is here to help!


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