How to Protect Your Business From the Surge in Phishing Websites
As the entire world is worrying about the coronavirus, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the global crisis to line their pockets. Google reports that there has been a 350% increase in phishing websites in the last two months alone. This threat is genuine, and you need to take steps to protect yourself, your business, and your data.
What Is a Phishing Website?
Phishing websites are designed to steal your information, but they can work in a variety of different ways. For instance, a cybercriminal may make a website that looks like your bank site. You think the site is real so you enter your username and password, and then, the criminals have everything they need to access your account.
Similarly, a phishing website may look like it’s for a charity helping people with the coronavirus. In fact, it’s just a scam designed to steal money and credit card information. In some cases, phishing websites download malicious files to your computer when you visit them — once executed, these files may encrypt your data until you pay a ransom, copy all your keystrokes, or steal information from your computer in other ways.
Rise in Phishing Websites During the Coronavirus
In January, Google reported that it knew of 149,000 active phishing websites. By February, the number almost doubled to 293,000. As the virus began to take hold in the United States in March, the number increased to 522,000. That’s a 350% increase since January.
During the coronavirus, the most significant increases in phishing sites have happened during the most stressful times. The most significant day-over-day increase occurred on March 21st, the day after New York, Illinois, and Connecticut told their residents to shelter in place. The second-biggest increase? March 11th, the day the World Health Organization declared the virus as a pandemic. Both of these days saw about a threefold increase.
Unfortunately, no one is immune — one survey indicates that 22% of Americans say they have been targeted by cybercrime related to COVID-19.
Critical Strategies for Protecting Yourself From Phishing Websites
To protect yourself and your business from phishing websites, you need to take a multi-pronged approach. Keep these essential practices in mind:
- Educate your employees about the risks of phishing websites. Send out a newsletter, set up a training session over videoconferencing, or find another way to talk with your employees about how to protect your business from phishing attacks.
- Don’t click on links in emails from unknown senders. A lot of cybercriminals use phishing emails to direct users to their sites. If the email appears to be from someone you know, double-check the sender, and consider reaching out to them directly before clicking on any links.
- Invest in quality cybersecurity tools that block malicious websites, prevent your computers from executing approved applications, or protect your network in other ways.
- Be aware of the signs of a phishing website. These may include misspelled names of companies or charity organizations or forms that ask for information you usually don’t provide. For instance, a phishing website trying to steal your bank details may ask for your username, password, and PIN, while your bank’s actual website only requests your username and password.
- Advise your team to be selective about the websites they visit. Ideally, if they are searching for information on the virus or trying to donate, they should go to sites that they know and trust, rather than going to unknown websites.
- Work with a cybersecurity specialist. They can help you safeguard your network, which ultimately protects your money, your data, your business, and your reputation.
To stay as safe as possible from cybercrime during the coronavirus, you need to be aware of the heightened risks. If your team is working remotely, your network is likely to be even more vulnerable than usual.