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There are many different forms of cyber security threats that you need to avoid, such as ransomware, key logging and phishing. Phishing is where you receive an email from what appears to be a trusted source such as your bank or Amazon asking you for personal information or money. For example, you may get an email off PayPal stating that there has been some unusual activity on your account and you need to change your password. In this scenario, you need to be careful because the email may not actually be from PayPal but from someone with malicious intentions. You click the link to change your password, having to provide your current password in the process. The person that has sent the email then has both your email address and your password and can access your PayPal account and your money.
Spear phishing is a more targeted form of this attack. Cybercriminals use things like your social media and your business information against you to lull you into a false sense of security. If you have the names of your Finance Director and your Managing Director on your website this is information that can be used against you. Phishing emails could be sent from what appears to be your Finance Director asking the Accounts Assistant to pay an invoice of £20,000. The Accounts Assistant doesn’t think to question the senior member of staff and just pays the money, not realising that the email they have received is not actually from the Finance Director.
Over the past few weeks we have noticed a particular phishing email popping up all over the place. It’s not particularly any different from any other phishing email that you should avoid but it is a very common occurrence that we thought you should be made aware of. We have posted a screenshot of an example below. We have pixelated the names involved for their privacy.
When this email first came to our attention the person in question was quite concerned as the two individuals had been discussing an invoice payment by email. The recipient needed to send an invoice to the sender, however the sender had no reason to send any kind of invoice to the recipient and they knew immediately it was a phishing email. It could have been a very different story if it had been the other way around as the sender was expecting an invoice. Luckily, the recipient did not click on any links and deleted the email immediately.
Since this incident we have had reports of the email popping up everywhere, isolated from the two individuals that initially reported it. The format of the email is quite standard so apart from the amount in the invoice changing it is pretty easy to spot once you have seen it.
How did they know it was a phishing email?
There are a number of different indicators for a phishing email. In this case, while the name of the sender was stated (pixelated in the screenshot) the email address did not match the person’s usual address. It did not have their name, nor is it from their domain. The email address has no reference to the company that they work for.
The other indicator is the Â symbol in front of the specified amount the invoice is asking for. It’s unusual to be seen on an invoice and should make you question if the email is official.
The most important thing to think about when it comes to phishing emails is the context. In this case the recipient would never expect an invoice from the sender, as it is not part of their role. You should always consider the context of an email when you receive one. Does it seem odd? Is it how they usually send an invoice?
When it comes to phishing emails we need to be constantly vigilant for anything that seems strange or unusual. If someone refers to you as Gillian when they always call you Gill then question it. Pick up the phone and just say ‘Can I just double check that email was from you? I wasn’t sure if it was a phishing email.’ It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you are at all concerned about phishing emails and how they can impact your organisation. Please do not hesitate to get in contact on 01675 469020.