Phishing is a type of social engineering that involves a cyber criminal sending an email from a seemingly reputable company to encourage the recipient to reveal sensitive information such as passwords, bank account numbers, or other personal information. A phishing attack can either target an individual or an entire organization. When cyber criminals attack your organization as a whole, it only takes one user to fall for the ploy to compromise the security of the entire network and lead to a data breach.

How can you keep your organization protected? The first step is awareness and education. When everyone on your team recognizes that phishing attempts are a legitimate threat to your day-to-day operations, they’ll be more prepared to be on the lookout.

Here are five dead giveaways to keep an eye out for that likely indicate that an email is fraudulent.

1. Unexpected Request

While you generally recognize the sender or the content of most of the emails you receive, phishing email typically involves an unexpected request. These requests may detail lengthy backstories to justify the request and encourage you to take action before questioning the legitimacy of the request. If you aren’t familiar with the sender, take a careful look at the source of the request before proceeding.

2. A Sense of Urgency

Most phishing emails demand that you take action immediately at the risk of some adverse consequence occurring if you don’t. This tactic dupes recipients into clicking on links or entering personal data before registering who they’re even sharing the data with. When requests are truly urgent from a legitimate institution, they typically are made on the phone or in person. That’s why you should immediately be suspicious of any email that demands immediate action.

3. Poor Grammar, Spelling, or Formatting

If you notice unusual typos, odd syntax, or strange formatting, the email most likely wasn’t sent by a legitimate institution. Many phishing emails are sent from foreign countries where computer crime laws are typically not as strict as in the United States. If the email sounds like it may have written by someone who is not a native English speaker, you’re probably reading a phishing email.

4. Suspicious Links

Phishing attempts generally work by convincing you that you’re clicking on a legitimate site when the link actually sends you to a malicious website. If you hover over the link and the URL looks unfamiliar, it may be an attempt to further mislead you. If you don’t recognize the URL, don’t risk clicking on it. Instead, use an online tool like ISITPHISHING or BrightCloud to test the legitimacy of the link before clicking.

5. Requesting Sensitive Information

Legitimate senders never request confidential information like credit card numbers, passwords, or other private data over email. If you receive a request asking to transmit sensitive data over email, you’re likely dealing with a phishing attempt.

Want to learn more about how you can protect your business from phishing attempts? [Contact the security experts] at SNC today before a breach occurs.