By Joshau Love, Business Development Manager

Christmas is the season of goodwill, joy, and cheer. But not for cybercriminals. During the busy festive period, the internet becomes a dangerous playground for opportunist hackers taking full advantage of human error and online behaviour.

Here at Arcus, we’re committed to protecting our businesses against cyberattacks. Today, I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to spot a phishing attempt, how to prevent your company falling victim to this popular scam, and how to turn the tables on cybercriminals.

Are you ready to ruin a hacker’s Christmas? Let’s dive in.

What is phishing and who is a target?

Phishing is a form of social engineering, which is where hackers will attempt to dupe and manipulate targets into taking a desired action. Cybercriminals will often use emails for phishing attacks, posing as a legitimate sender.

The goal of a phishing attack is to steal sensitive information such as financial or personal data. This is done by including dangerous links, such as fake websites, or attachments such as malware and ransomware.

Spear phishing is when after extensive research, a hacker targets an individual or an organisation. These attacks are two-pronged. First, emails appear extremely legitimate and therefore increase the chance of success, and second, hackers often impersonate senior team members, making employees fearful of ignoring instruction from authority.

A recent report showed that 79% of UK businesses faced a phishing attack in 2023. From SMEs to large enterprises, no organisation is safe, and phishing attacks are only set to increase. So, what’s the best strategy to protect your business against phishing?

How to stop a phishing attack

Step 1: train your team to spot the warning signs

Phishing attacks rely on human error, and December is a notoriously busy month for employees. Hackers know this, and they hope to manipulate recipients who are rushing to complete tasks or answer emails. Imagine the scenario: an employee receives a request from what appears to be an internal email to transfer a hefty sum of money. Hackers go to great lengths to make spear phishing emails appear authentic. It’s important to make sure your employees remain on high-alert, scrutinising both external and internal emails.

Questions to ask:

– Does the email address look legitimate?

– Does the sender’s language ring true to the individual?

– Does the sign-off look suspicious?

– Do company logos appear to be formatted correctly?

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to red flags, and security awareness training is an essential line of defence. Here at Arcus, we offer training and Cyber Essentials certification to help keep your team and business secure, find out more.

Step 2: have robust cybersecurity infrastructure

Your employees play a huge role in protecting your business from cyber threats. But, cybersecurity technology is essential to combat cyberattacks.

From firewalls to threat detection, password management software to backup and disaster recovery products, every corner of your network should have reliable, airtight defences. Head to our website to discover what a cybersecurity package looks like with Arcus.

Step 3: update your software and passwords

Making sure your business has the necessary tools in place is a great place to start, but you also need to keep on top of your cybersecurity solutions. Out of date software and overly simple passwords are a hacker’s dream, giving them an easy grab. Always ensure you’re utilising security tools at your disposal, such as 2FA (two-factor authentication).

When you choose Arcus for cybersecurity, we not only recommend the best products and services on the market, but we also monitor your systems and keep everything updated.

Step 4: make sure your team report suspicious activity

Falling victim to a scam can leave you feeling vulnerable and duped. Employers must create an environment that encourages employees to report suspicious activity or a security breach, without fear of consequence. By fostering a culture that allows employees to feel comfortable, you’ll stop hackers in their tracks, and expose them.

Step 5: report cybercrime

Not only is it important to report all cyberattacks to keep your business GDPR compliant and avoid damage to your organisation, but it’s also important to submit suspicious emails to your IT provider and fraud protection agencies. This helps expose scams and allows the relevant authorities to act quickly, preventing damage to your business, and to others.

Why choose Arcus for your cybersecurity?

When it comes to your team and your business, the role of cybersecurity cannot be underestimated. Here at Arcus, we offer expert IT support services in Barnsley and throughout Yorkshire. We take a blended approach to cybersecurity, tackling it from two sides – the human element, and the technology. Employees across your organisation need to be vigilant, particularly those with access to sensitive data, such as finance and HR managers.

We believe this combination is the magic formula and our experts are on hand to help you navigate your online security during the festive period. We know each business is unique, which is why we tailor each cybersecurity solution to each business.

It’s time to take a preventative approach to cybersecurity and enjoy peace of mind and a relaxing holiday season. Contact our team to stop hackers this Christmas.