September 15

What is Phishing: 4 Ways Cyber Criminals Use Phishing To Expose Companies And Their Data.


What is phishing? A type of social engineering.

Phishing is a form of social engineering to steal user data including:

  • Login credentials
  • Banking or Credit card details
  • Corporate passwords
  • Personally identifiable information (PII)

Phishing attacks not only victimize individuals. They are frequently targeted at businesses small and large across the globe. Nearly all businesses are becoming more and more vulnerable to cyber attacks, including phishing this 2021. 

Without knowing what a phishing attack actually is -leaves more room for hackers to get access to business and personal credentials.

How Phishing Attacks Work

Phishing happens when a cybercriminal masquerades as an authorised person or entity such as:

  • Supplier (phone, internet, etc)
  • Promotional invites 
  • Existing or Potential Client
  • Internal Employee
  • Financial Institution
  • Government Agency
  • Customer support from subscription sites (Netflix, Disney, Amazon, etc)

The list can go on and on as phishing attacks constantly evolve and each time, they can become more creative in crafting their next phishing strategy. 

Once a recipient is successfully tricked into thinking the email or SMS is from a legitimate sender, the chances of them clicking on a malicious link or attachment is dramatically increased.

The link or attachment, which might contain either malware, a ransomware attack, has the ability to freeze your systems, tools, and operations or worse. 

One of the greatest risks to the business from a phishing attack is when a bad actor gains access to sensitive information (database, client records, personal information, health records, etc) with the threat of revealing it to the public through portals on the dark web.

What Is Phishing? The Methods Used In A Phishing Attack

Bad actors ‘hackers’ are very creative and trendy. They imitate various companies that are perhaps gaining fame and a high number of users, for example, Microsoft Office 365, Samsung, Netflix, Amazon, WhatsApp, and even Twitter. 

Unfortunately, hackers do not only focus on large companies. More and more hackers are targeting local small business owners and their teams. They may pose as a client, local supplier, a workmate, or even a friend.

Given the seemingly wide scope of phishing attacks, and the limited cyber awareness of small businesses and their teams – it’s no wonder cybercriminals are upping the ante on them as targets. 

The True Cost Of Phishing Attack

A study conducted by Microsoft with the help of the 2019 Hiscox Cyber Readiness report in 2020 shows the financial losses of cyber incidents in SMEs as follows:

  • Average of 50 employees – USD14,000
  • Average of 250 employees – USD184,000
  • Average of 1000 employees – USD715,000
  • Above 1000 employees – USD551,000

This is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Phishing isn’t solely measured by the number of phishing styles and attempts presently used. The financial impact does not end on the monetary losses listed above. Phishing attacks are way bigger than they appear, especially for small and medium businesses.

The Impact of a Phishing Attack on SMEs: Customer Loyalty, Brand Reputation, and Cash Flow

A single attack can pose catastrophic effects on businesses and private individuals. 

Phishing attacks may trigger unauthorised purchases online/offline, loss of funds from unauthorised transfers/withdrawals, and worst is identity theft. They can cause trouble for businesses and individuals whose credentials are compromised by clicking a malicious link or attachment.

Furthermore, phishing is also often used to acquire governmental or corporate networks to be used in a larger scope of phishing attacks. 

An example is an advanced persistent compromised threat (APT). If network access is successfully gained, employees from these organisations may then be compromised – creating a hole in cybersecurity defences for these cyber attackers to bypass perimeters, disperse malware inside their protected environments, and potentially access secured and highly sensitive data. 

This breach and the data might then fall into two possible scenarios:

  • The data may be up for sale on the dark web, making it more susceptible to further cyber attacks from other cybercriminals.
  • The cyber criminals will demand a ransom to give you back the data stolen, without the assurance that they will let go of your systems once you submit to their demands.

Imagine for a moment that your business is impacted by a single attack.
What could the ramifications be? 

Cyber attacks, like phishing, have the potential to damage: 

  • your cash flow, 
  • operations, 
  • consumer or clientele trust, 
  • customer loyalty, and 
  • even the confidence and wellbeing of your employees. 

The damage of cyber attacks varies depending on their scope.  However, no matter how you look at it, it’s simply something any business, especially a small business, cannot ignore. 

Remember: a single cyber threat, even a simple phishing email, may escalate into a huge problem that an SME may have a hard time recovering from.

How CRINTEL helps SMEs deal with the dangers of Phishing

CRINTEL – Cyber Risk Intelligence is a Private Intelligence Agency (PIA) that specialises in Cyber Threat and Risk Intelligence originating from the Dark Web.

We work as a co-managed solution to support and provide your internal team and external IT cybersecurity advisors with 24/7 live monitoring of the dark web, where leaked credentials from a phishing attack is.

Our Threat Intelligence Units (TIUs) monitor your business domain, email addresses and key suppliers – looking for exposed credentials that we can find about your business and suppliers – that are up for sale on the dark web. 

Our enterprise-level cyber intelligence systems, used by Fortune 500 companies, are supported by human operatives and collect live dynamic data that is scanned or sourced from live dark web forums leveraging multiple sources in real-time 24/7, 365 days per year.

Are your business credentials up for sale on the dark web? 

Dark Web Monitoring

Get started with Crintel FREE today! Request a complimentary Cyber Intelligence Report here.

NOTE: As this article is sourced from one or more third parties we cannot guarantee the information is correct and suggest if you are relying on this information, for whatever reason, then you should first do your own research. Click here to learn more about how CRINTEL can help your business.



Cyber Threats, Dark Web, Dark Web Monitoring, phishing, phishing attacks, Small Business, what is phishing

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