Phishing is an effective and dangerous cybercrime because it relies on people’s inherent trust in the internet. The idea that criminals would be able to fool you into giving up private information is hard for most people to believe, which makes it easy for even well-meaning people to fall victim to a phishing attack.

Key Factors that make Phishing an effective and dangerous cybercrime

Phishing is a common cybercrime that can be easily committed and hard to detect. Although phishing has been around for decades, it’s still a major threat to both businesses and individuals.

  • Phishing is an effective cyber crime because it’s so simple. You send an email, or post something on social media, that looks like it’s from a legitimate company or person. It asks you to log in to your account and change your password or enter some other information—like credit card numbers or passwords for other accounts you have.
  • The reason why phishing is so effective is that the perpetrators can target specific individuals or groups of people. They also have a wide variety of methods they can use to trick their victims into giving up their information. 

For example, they may send an email that appears to be from a legitimate company (like Google) asking you to log into your account on their website. If you fall for this trick, your username and password are stolen!

  • Another reason why phishing is such an effective crime is that there are no actual laws against it yet—it’s just considered online harassment or fraud at this point in time. This means that victims have no legal recourse when someone steals their personal information through phishing scams like the ones mentioned above!
  • There is not much awareness regarding Phishing even in recent years. Most corporate employees, domain owners and individuals have only fleetingly heard the term “phishing” without a proper understanding of how it is executed and what they can do to protect themselves against it.
  • Part of the reason is that phishing is so easy to execute. All you need is a computer and some basic knowledge of how to use it. That makes phishings cheap and easy to pull off—and that’s why they’re so dangerous.
  • The other part is that human beings are really good at being tricked. Our brains are built to believe what our eyes tell us, and phishers have learned how to exploit this tendency in order to get people to act against their own interests. 

That’s why even though we know better than to open an email from someone we don’t know or click on links in emails sent by people we don’t know, we still do it sometimes—because our brains want us to believe that these things are safe!

How to detect Phishing Attempts?

Make sure the email sent to you is genuine

If you’re not sure whether it’s real or not, there are a few things you can do to check. First, if the person who sent it is someone you know (like your boss), just call them up and ask if they really sent it. If they say yes, then go ahead and do what they asked. But if they tell you no… well then, maybe something fishy is going on!

Second, look at the email address: does it look like an official address from the company? Often times these kinds of emails will be sent from an address that ends with “mailinator” or something similar—that means it isn’t actually from them!

Authenticate your messages

To keep the guesswork out, you can consider authenticating your email messages using reliable protocols like SPF, DKIM and especially, DMARC. Authentication can help domain owners prevent a wide range of cyber attacks including spoofing, phishing, ransomware and BEC

Look for telling signs

  1. Look for misspellings, bad grammar, and other errors in the email. Most phishing emails will have at least one error in them because they are created by scammers who aren’t native English speakers.
  2. Look for links in the email. If the link directs you to a website that isn’t associated with your bank or online store, then it’s probably not safe to click on it.
  3. Verify any phone numbers that are listed on the email using a trusted source like Google Voice or Skype before calling them back—even if they seem legitimate! You can also call your bank directly without sharing any sensitive information over the phone if you’re suspicious of an email request.”

Read our detailed guide on Common Indicators of a Phishing Attempt.

How to avoid getting phished?

To avoid being scammed, follow these tips:

  1. Never click on phishing links in emails or text messages unless you know where they’re coming from (and if they ask for personal information).
  2. Look at the email address of the sender and compare it with their real email address (if they’ve given this out). If it doesn’t look right or there are spelling mistakes or other errors, don’t open it!
  3. Enforce your DMARC policy to p=reject (note that shifting to DMARC enforcement should be a gradual process, and it is always recommended to start with p=none)
  4. Educate your employees about email attack vectors and best practices by undergoing a free DMARC training

Final Words

Not only do phishing attacks put your network at risk for data breaches and malware infections, but they also cost companies millions in lost revenue and reputational damage every year (according to IBM). The best way to prevent these attacks is through awareness, early detection and effective preventions. 

Impersonation attacks like phishing and spoofing can dramatically impact the health of your domain and lead to authentication failures, email compromise, and much more! This is why you need to improve your defenses against them, starting today. There are various methods you can deploy to ensure that your emails are adequately protected against phishing and spoofing attacks. Let’s discuss what they are!

Email Authentication Protocols to prevent impersonation attacks

  1. Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
    A good way to start out is by deploying SPF. Sender Policy Framework, which is based on the DNS of your domain name, can certify that the IP used for sending an email has the right to do so. It prevents fraudulent use of your domain name and prevents third parties from pretending to be you. The SPF protocol is particularly effective against phishing and spoofing attacks because they often take advantage of such mistakes. If a mail server states that it has been sent by a mail server whose IP address can be attributed to your domain then in general operating systems will check twice before delivering an email. In this way mail servers that do not respect SPF are ignored successfully. To put it simply, the “SPF Protocol” allows the owner of a domain (for example [email protected]) to send an authorization to its DNS authority.

  2. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
    DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, is an email authentication system that uses digital signatures to verify the source and contents of a message. It is a set of cryptographic techniques for verifying the source and contents of email messages in order to reduce spam, phishing, and other forms of malicious email. Specifically, it uses shared private encryption keys to authenticate the sender of a given message (the key aspect here being that only the intended recipient should be in possession of this private key), ensuring that email cannot be “spoofed,” or falsely represented by impostors. It also allows an authorized recipient to detect any changes made to a message after it has been sent; if the organization responsible for validating these signatures detects data corruption in an email, they can simply reject it as false and notify its sender as such.

  3. Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
    DMARC exists for several reasons. First, DMARC provides you with a way to tell mail servers which messages are legitimate, and which ones are not. Second, DMARC provides you with reports of how well-protected your domain is from attacks. Third, DMARC helps protect your brand from being associated with messages that could harm your reputation. DMARC provides more protection against phishing and spoofing by verifying that an email message really originated from the domain it claims to have come from. DMARC also enables your organization to request reports about the messages you receive. These reports can help you investigate possible security issues and identify possible threats, such as malware infection or phishing attacks targeting your organization.

How can PowerDMARC help you protect your domain against phishing and spoofing attacks?

PowerDMARC’s email security authentication suite not only helps you with the seamless onboarding of your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols but provides many more additional benefits including:

  • SPF flattening to ensure that your SPF record stays valid and under the SPF hard limit of 10 lookups
  • BIMI for visual identification of your business emails. BIMI ensures that the emails reaching your clients contain your brand logo that can be spotted by them even before they open the message
  • MTA-STS to encrypt your emails in transit

To enjoy free DMARC, you need only sign up and create a PowerDMARC account without any additional costs. Start your email authentication journey with us for a safer email experience!