The Rising Threat of Phishing: How to Protect Your Data
As many business owners know, the threat and impact of phishing attacks has increased significantly in recent years. Due to a rise in online activity since the Covid-19 pandemic and increased use of digital tools, hackers are leveraging every opportunity they can to exploit vulnerabilities in online security systems.
With sensitive information now stored on everything from computers and mobile devices to TVs and even wristwatches — hackers have more opportunities than ever to gain access to your data. Now, with the additional threat of AI tools that can clone voices and text, a new age of phishing is emerging.
But when it comes to phishing campaigns, how well are you managing your response to data protection?
For many businesses in the UK, it can be easy to overlook the true risk of a phishing attempt. Even if phishing emails or calls are blocked or filtered from view, the fact that they reached your network in the first place indicates that your business is worth targeting.
So, what should you know about phishing, and how can you protect your business against this type of cyber attack? Our team of data security experts is here to help you find out!
Let’s get started.
What exactly is a phishing attack?
At its core, a phishing attack is a type of cybercrime in which hackers contact the user of a phone, computer, or another communication device under false pretences. Known for using deceptive tactics to trick users into divulging sensitive information such as login credentials and credit card numbers, successful phishing attempts can significantly impact the lives of those affected.
Statistics show that half of UK adults have been sent a phishing message, showcasing just how common this type of crime is in the UK. With phishing via email, text message, phone, and social media platforms so prevalent — it’s safe to assume that many people are becoming desensitised to the risks.
With more advanced phishing techniques than ever being used to target everyone from ordinary individuals to small businesses and large corporations — data protection is no longer just about ensuring privileged access across your organisation.
As mentioned, hackers are now leveraging voice generators and advanced technology previously developed to do good in the real world, to carry out vicious attacks. Just one example of just how far hackers are willing to go, nobody is immune to the risk of phishing.
Especially when it comes to ‘spear phishing’ (a type of phishing attack targeted towards a specific individual or group), businesses need to understand the risks of phishing and learn how to protect themselves.
But what are these risks?
What are the risks of a phishing attack for businesses?
Not only limited to financial losses, the damage caused by ‘new age’ phishing attacks can also lead to data loss, business disruption, and reputational damage. Especially for businesses not utilising cloud backup services or cloud storage, the repercussions of phishing can have long-lasting effects.
For businesses that have fallen victim to successful phishing attacks, our data protection experts have observed:
When attackers exploit stolen credentials to gain access to sensitive information (such as financial data, customer data, and intellectual property), this can just be the beginning of a downward spiral for your business.
In severe cases, hackers may be able to encrypt or delete data, making it difficult for businesses to recover.
For a business of any size, data loss from phishing can result in:
- Financial loss
- Possible ransom payment threats
- Legal implications (from both customers and regulators)
- Loss of intellectual property
- Damage to brand image
- Lengthy and expensive data recovery efforts
Once attackers gain entry to your business network, it can be possible to install malware and other malicious software that can lead to system crashes and data corruption. This can result in extended downtime and loss of revenue.
Recovering from a phishing attack can also be a time-consuming process. This process can involve:
- Restoring lost data from backups
- Identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities in the system
- Implementing new security protocols (to prevent similar attacks in the future)
- Repairing damage caused to your business reputation
Following on from the previous point, falling victim to a phishing attack can have severe consequences for your reputation. This is because when sensitive information is leaked, customers and strategic partners may lose trust in your operations.
With over 57% of consumers saying they would stop buying from a brand following a breach in trust, your business can be impacted by:
- Lost sales
- Damaged relationships
- Negative reviews/backlash
- Difficulty in acquiring new customers
- Decreased employee morale
Note: Cybercriminals can also use your business network to launch attacks on other companies, making your business a part of a broader attack chain. This can result in legal or regulatory issues.
Security risks associated with business productivity apps
Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are two of the most widely used productivity apps for businesses across the globe. Highly effective in helping businesses increase efficiency and collaborate more effectively, their popularity has soared in recent years.
However, it is this exact level of popularity that makes them prime targets for phishing attacks. Due to their large user base and sensitive data storage, hackers view data and files on these platforms as high-value targets.
Despite additional security measures, reports consistently highlight that Google and Microsoft are among the top brands targeted by phishing attacks worldwide.
How secure are the platforms your business is using?
For businesses in particular, one common misconception is that the data on platforms such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 is automatically backed up and kept in storage for long periods. However, this is not the case.
While these platforms have built-in security measures to prevent unauthorised access, they lack comprehensive backup and recovery solutions to safeguard against data loss caused by factors such as:
- Human error
- Hardware failure
- Service disruption
- Cyber or phishing attacks
With GDPR and other data compliance breaches now imposing penalties on companies for failing to protect customer data from loss or theft, it’s imperative for businesses to proactively implement backup and recovery strategies.
How BackupVault’s cloud backup solutions help businesses protect their data
As more organisations come to understand the value of data for their organisation, hackers and opportunists are doing the same. This is why investment in the right type of protection is essential when it comes to data storage.
Even though many businesses continue to place their faith in platform vendors to tighten security protocols, the only guaranteed way to add an additional layer (or multiple!) of protection for your business is to take action yourself.
One way of doing this is to use cloud backup solutions such as BackupVault.
Offering both preventative and reactive protection, BackupVault mitigates the risks of data loss and cyberattacks for your business. Using cloud-based offsite backup storage and enterprise-level encryption, BackupVault offers a multi-layer level of protection for your operations.
As a leading cloud backup solution, BackupVault offers optimal levels of security through:
- Native ransomware protection
- Active malware detection
- A secure offsite cloud server
- Remote management and reporting
- Easily recoverable data in the event of a successful phishing attack
How BackupVault’s cloud backup service works
Part of our service involves installing a small piece of backup software on your computer or server that securely sends your data to our UK data centre. This is performed each day automatically, or as often as you like!
With UK-based customer support and full GDPR compliance, BackupVault provides powerful protection for small to medium-sized businesses, and the public sector.
Contact us to learn more about BackupVault’s security and online backup services, or sign up for a FREE cloud backup trial.
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