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What To Do if Someone Was Phishing — And You Took the Bait!

by | Jan 31, 2024 | All, Blogs, cybersecurity,phishing,security | 0 comments

Oh, no.


George had a ton of things on his agenda for today… but falling for a phishing scam wasn’t on the list.


The email looked legit! 

It sounded urgent, and even APPEARED to be from a trusted source. 


George clicked on the link and confirmed his information. But as he looked at the website, it hit him. This was a scam — and he just gave them his information.


George just became the victim of a phishing attack. #$%&#!


After the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach (and after muttering a string of choice words to himself at his workstation), what happens next?


Cybersecurity Risk Management Strategy

Beware of phishing scam emails by using cybersecurity risk management.

Here at Varay, we’re big believers in taking care of issues before they become problems. That’s a major part of our philosophy as a managed service provider (MSP). Healthy cyber hygiene and a good cybersecurity strategy are key to nipping attacks (like the one that just ruined George’s morning) in the bud. And as a business leader, you can protect your business with a cybersecurity risk management strategy.


Making Good Cybersecurity Decisions at a Leadership Level

We’ve talked before about The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) framework to understand cybersecurity challenges: implement best practices to address them. Recently the NIST updated this framework to emphasize leadership’s role in making smart, strategic decisions about cybersecurity risk management.


These good strategy decisions underpin the rest of a business’s cybersecurity.


At Varay, we’re passionate about providing cybersecurity that meets our clients’ needs. We offer three tiers of service to help align your business’s cybersecurity with your overall goals — to stay secure and be confident to face whatever challenges may come.


But what happens after the genie is out of the bottle (so to speak)? 


What can you do when someone opens that attachment, downloads that program, or is tricked into giving a phisher their information?

Help, I’ve Fallen for a Phishing Scam!

When you or someone on your team becomes a phishing victim, here are some steps you can take to minimize the impact of the attack.


1. Tell Your IT Team

The IT team can identify the affected systems, disconnect them from the network, and take them offline to keep the phishing attack from spreading any further. Acting quickly might limit the negative impact and prevent further damage.


2. Change Your Passwords

Immediately change the password for the compromised account. Don’t use easy-to-guess or reused passwords. If you have multi-factor authentication, that’s an added layer of protection.


3. Run a Scan for Malware

If you think you may have fallen for a phishing scam, run a thorough antivirus or antimalware scan on the device you used. This can detect and remove any malicious programs that were installed.


4. Inform Your Colleagues

If the phishing attack could spread malicious content or emails to colleagues, let them know so they can be on the lookout and take precautions.


5. Follow Your Organization’s Policies

Does your organization have a plan to respond to cybersecurity incidents? Make sure you follow those procedures. If your organization doesn’t yet have a cybersecurity risk management strategy or disaster recovery plan, a managed IT service provider (like Varay) can help you be prepared.


6. Learn From the Experience

Mistakes happen, and some phishing attempts are very tricky and convincing. If you’ve fallen victim to a phishing attack, learn from the experience. Take time to get familiar with common phishing tactics so that you recognize the warning signs in the future. Working with an MSP like Varay can help you prevent and respond quickly when attacks strike.


How to Spot a Phishing Attempt

As we said, it’s easier (and often less costly!) to prevent problems than to deal with the fallout. When it comes to cybersecurity risk management, what should you know to identify the most common forms of attack?


Phorms Forms of Phishing


Email Phishing

This is where bad actors send fake emails that look real but contain harmful links or attachments. A more customized attack containing personal information might make it seem more legitimate. This more “pointed” attack is called “spear phishing.” Phishers might even pose as executives to trick employees into sharing info.


Malware-Based Phishing

Phishers may send malware through email attachments, infecting your device if opened.


Link Manipulation

These deceptive emails have links that redirect to fake login pages, aiming to steal your credentials.


Ads and Pop-Ups

These fake virus warnings prompt you to download malware disguised as antivirus software.


Fake Wifi Networks

Sometimes, attackers create networks with names similar to public ones, intercepting your data when you connect.


Best Practices for Identifying Phishing Attempts

You know what they say: The best defense is a good offense. A strong cybersecurity risk management strategy includes training and awareness. Here are some tips to help you know when something is phishy:


1. Check Email Sources: Verify the sender (ESPECIALLY if the email seems unexpected!). Hover over the sender’s address to see the actual address behind the display name. And when in doubt, a quick call can confirm whether the email is legitimate.

2. Know the Red Flags: Phishing emails often contain misspelled words, grammatical errors, generic greetings (“Hello, Customer!”), or unexpected links or attachments.

3. Be Wary of Urgency: If the email contains urgent requests, double-check before you respond.

4. Don’t Click Unverified Links: Before you click, hover over the link to verify the URL.


5. Use an Email Filtering Tool: Weed out potential phishing attempts as part of a cybersecurity risk management strategy.


6. Keep Your Software Updated: Regularly update your system, antivirus program, and apps. Software updates often contain patches to prevent known threats.


7. Use Multi-Factor Authentication: This added layer of protection requires two or more factors to verify your identity.


8. Use a Firewall AND Employee Training: A firewall can block some malicious content and prevent unauthorized access to a network. But many phishing attacks happen because someone is tricked into “opening the door.” At Varay, we work with your team to recognize scams and keep the digital doors locked as part of our onboarding process.


9. Secure Your Wifi: Don’t connect to unsecured networks.


10. Back Up Your Data: When an attack strikes, a data backup strategy is huge for the recovery process and minimizing damages.

 Padlock on a computer keyboard symbolizing cybersecurity risk management.

Security That Leaves Phishers Empty-Handed


Remember George from earlier?

Poor guy. Today wasn’t his day.


But with the right tools and training, he (and the rest of the team!) can leave this experience all the wiser. Phishing scammers can be tricky, but a great cybersecurity strategy can keep data secure. And at Varay, there’s nothing we love more than leaving scammers empty-handed.


Does your team know how to spot a phishing scam? Does your business have a plan to deal with cyber threats — before AND after they happen? Helping keep your business secure is our passion. Call us today for a free assessment.



Written by

Amanda at Varay


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