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Have you been a victim of phishing attack emails?

You’d probably agree that phishing attack emails are getting ridiculously hard to spot. They can cause massive harm when they do hit and the fear of them can be truly paralysing for any organisation. You may even have been hit by such an attack yourself.

Funnily enough I received what appeared to be just such an attack, shown below, in the early hours of last Saturday morning. This was after I’d been on a spending spree using my credit card the night before.

Example phishing attack emails


Everything on this email certainly looks legitimate to me and I’m sure you’d agree; the English is good, the layout looks right, even when you click to see the contact it is in a format that looks completely spot-on, even to a self-professed expert.

However even after a couple of shameless pints the night before, I’m 100% sure I did not buy travel money – particularly as Tatton Park is probably the most exotic place I’m lucky enough to be travelling to over the next couple of months.

So, that leaves me with a real dilemma. I’ve either been the victim of credit card fraud (which has happened to me before, very annoying, and incredibly hard to protect yourself against) OR this is a perfect example of phishing attack emails in the wild.

How do I move forward?

You can be sure as hell I’m not clicking on the PDF to open it on my personal phone, which has no protection outside of what comes standard (perhaps silly, but a mistake I’m sure something a lot of people are guilty of).

Equally I’m not sending it to any corporate device which have said filters either, I’m not that daft, particularly in the wake of growing supply chain attacks.

So here I am, phone in hand, left completely in a state of relative paralysis. It seems the best course of action is to do absolutely nothing – do nothing and hope that nothing worse happens. The ‘Ostrich approach’, if you will. Not a great state of affairs and it certainly isn’t one that sits well with me.

So this got me to thinking: I am just one person, with one device, on one connection. I am certainly not going to be held to any sort of regulation if something nasty does transpire from this (I hope!), I’m not facing any fines and apart from being a tad annoyed and suffering some mild embarrassment. I’m not going to “lose face” over it.

The same cannot be said for companies where the polar opposite of the above sentence holds true. The fines are very real, the loss of face can cost companies a fortune, and if nothing else a bad breach will quite often mean one or more people looking for a new job.

And mobiles, as in my case, are just one area being targeted.

So, how do I manage phishing attack emails?

My point to you is three-fold.

Firstly, I get it, these attacks now are not the lame Nigerian prince attacks that they once were; easy to spot, easy to ignore and even somewhat amusing in some cases. They are clever, targeted and quite frankly a tad scary.

Secondly, pay attention to actually protecting your mobile estate! It’s the biggest growing platform in connectivity and honestly, just relying on either the baked in protection from the devices, or hoping that your MDM platform will pick up anything nefarious could really leave you with a hole in your defences that comes back to bite you.

Finally, If you or your business have suffered something similar, or are just concerned about the harrowing industry growth figures around phishing attack emails – let’s connect and share out tale of woe together – The good news for me is that Intercity Technology has the capacity to stop such attacks in their wake without relying purely on my intuition. And even better – I’d love to share with you how they do it.

Up next

Remote access: a fresh opportunity for hackers?

As we all remember, in May 2017 NHS England fell victim to a vast global cyber attack; the WannaCry virus. The ransomware attack encrypted hundreds of sensitive files, hitting 48 NHS England trusts — one in five across the country.

And, according to the ECRI Institute’s annual Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2019, remote access systems are now the biggest security threat to the healthcare industry.

Worryingly, the report also explains that once hackers gain access to remote systems, they can move around the healthcare network, install ransomware, steal or encrypt data, or hijack computer resources.

But it’s not just the healthcare sector that’s at risk — with a greater number of businesses encouraging a digital workplace, BYOD and remote working, it has never been more important to ensure you have robust safeguarding processes against all your remote access points.

Why are remote access systems more vulnerable?

Remote access software allows a computer’s desktop environment to be run remotely on one system while being displayed on a separate client device.

Such systems are incredibly useful if you’re a future-focused business running a digital workplace with enhanced mobility for your workforce. Nevertheless, remote access systems are a common hacking target because they are, by nature, remotely accessible.

With so many devices remotely connecting to your network, there’s more exposure than ever to security threats of varying sophistication.

There are several ways hackers can gain access to a network using these systems. These include lack of intrusion or threat detection, poor governance for installing remote access software, and weak remote access account passwords.

How can businesses protect themselves?

Despite the threats, the risks around remote access are not to be feared — there are tactics business can deploy to ensure their access points are fully-protected.

There are two important aspects to securing your remote access systems. Firstly, you need robust access rights and layers of protection that safeguard your core information and most valuable data. You also need safeguarding technologies that identify, protect, and monitor all remote access points.

Touch Secure, for example, is a cloud-based Security as a Service (SECaaS) with 24×7 x 365 proactive monitoring, immediate intrusion detection and threat response using advanced detection techniques. It also sits on the G-Cloud 10 framework, so it’s ideal for public sector bodies like the NHS.

Share an effective remote access policy

Secondly, a reliable cloud-based security technology must go hand in hand with an up-to-date and well-circulated remote access policy for your IT team and the rest of your staff.

Such a document will ensure you (and they) are adhering to recommended cybersecurity practices, instituting a strong password policy, maintaining and patching your systems, and routinely logging system access.

As well as outlining issues such as using strong passwords, listing unauthorised sites and explaining how to manage suspicious emails, your remote access policy should address the following areas:

  • Ensuring remote devices have the latest anti-malware and updated operating systems
  • Assessing whether devices can be used for personal business
  • Are devices connected to a Local Area Network (LAN), Virtual Private Network (VPN), or other service?
  • Whether the employee can store sensitive information on the device
  • Are devices adequately protected?

It’s perfectly possible, therefore, to allow your workers to remain proactive when working away from the office, whilst ensuring your core information and systems are protected.

With a managed security solution like Touch Secure, coupled with a thoughtful and well-disseminated remote access policy, your entire business will be entirely protected from the inside, as well as from the out.