Phishing is the act of sending an email designed to trick the recipient into revealing secret information or performing some fraudulent action. Most often, phishing attacks are used to steal passwords or to install malware. While these attacks are usually not sophisticated, they are still often highly successful. There are many ways to combat phishing, but in this article, we're going to discuss the use of software and services to help prevent phishing attacks.

How Phishing Attacks Work

Phishing is a form of social engineering that starts with an email. The email typically directs the recipient to click a link or to download a file. In the case of a file download, the attacker is typically attempting to trick the user into installing Ransomware. If the phishing attack involves clicking a link, the attacker is most frequently trying to steal credentials by sending the user to a fake, but a familiar, website that asks for a username and password. Fortunately, there are some technologies that can be used to help reduce the risk of a successful phishing attack.

Using Anti-Phishing Software

First, it's essential to understand that no software solutions will prevent all phishing attacks. However, there are many solutions that can be extremely helpful.

  • Email Filtering Services.  Email filtering services apply advanced and proprietary technologies to help detect phishing attacks. While Office 365 and GSuite already provide a basic level of filtering, adding services from vendors such as Mimecast and Proofpoint can add another layer of protection. These services act as a gateway, receiving your email first, then only passing-on clean emails to your inbox. 
  • Desktop Anti-Malware Products. In many cases, your current anti-malware tools already have anti-phishing protection built-in. These typically work by blocking the user from going to known-phishing URLs. Anti-malware products like Panda Adaptive Defense, Malwarebytes, Sophos, and many others.
  • Network-based Domain Reputation Filtering. Various vendors offer free and paid domain reputation services. These services work by filtering DNS requests when a user clicks a link to prevent the browser from navigating to known phishing sites. These services are easy to implement and provide yet another layer of protection. Free versions of these services are provided by vendors such as OpenDNS and Quad9.
  • Security Awareness Training. When technological protections fail, the users' understanding of phishing prevention is often the last safeguard. Security awareness training is recommended to all businesses as a means to train employees on preventing - among other things - phishing attacks. All coalition policyholders receive 15 free licenses of Curricula security awareness training included with their policy, which additional licenses at a deep discount.

While there are likely no 100% solutions to prevent phishing, the appropriate use of anti-phishing software is a critical component in the fight.

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