The impact of phishing on individuals and businesses alike can be severe. Even tech giants such as Facebook and Google lost as much as $100M to cybercriminals after a spear-phishing campaign that lasted for more than two years. Most of the time, however, these attackers aren’t even trying to steal money. They’re trying to steal something more valuable: data.

In today’s digital age, data is power. All businesses need robust cybersecurity measures to counter all kinds of attacks. Regardless of industry or size, anybody can become a target so everybody must be prepared.

In fact, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has recorded the highest ever number of monthly breaches last 31 July 2020. The report covers six months and reveals that 518 notifications were received by the privacy and freedom of information authority between January and June 2020. It’s a three percent decrease from the 532 notifications received between July and December 2019, but it’s a 16 percent increase for the same period last year. This is an alarming number and can potentially signal even higher rates in the next half of the year.

The attacks include ransomware wherein the strain of malware can encrypt data and render it unusable or inaccessible. This trend has serious consequences for businesses because data is critical not only in the operations but also for the clients’ confidence and security.

Moreover, it is reported that the data breaches have affected between 1 million to 10 million people. While the majority of the businesses were able to identify the breach within 30 days, there were  47 instances where the entity only became aware after 61 days. Worst, there were 14 entities who noticed the data breach and assessed the situation only after a year.

Suffice to say, these data breaches cost the affected businesses huge sums of money. These incidents highlight the need for proper cybersecurity education. It’s not enough to have the latest technology and tools. To fully commit to a business security strategy, the human element must also be covered.  This means that training and education need to happen on every level of the business.

It’s so easy to fall prey to phishing attacks. Phishing is the easiest method of attack and most successful because it takes advantage of human error.  For example, consider if you’ve received a legitimate-looking email from a legitimate-looking source asking you to click on a “link.” Just clicking on the link launches a malware and compromises your system. This is how many cybercriminals gain access to their target’s data and other sensitive information. Many phishing attacks look like this or follow the same technique.

There’s also another method of phishing known as “spoofing,” wherein an authentic website of a legitimate company is copied and made to look like it is the original when it’s not. When a busy or careless employee enters his credentials into this fake web page or once they enter the spoofed website, the phisher can invisibly and quickly load malware onto the user’s device and can gain access to the entire site.

This is why people must be trained enough to identify phishing or spoofing emails when they receive them. When they have the power to identify such kinds of attacks, they can easily report them and negate the threats.

For a long time in cybersecurity, people have been seen as a weakness. They’re the liabilities that cause systems to be hacked into by criminals. However, if you treat people as the primary line of defense against cyberattacks, you’ll gain better protection. You’ll have better chances of neutralising attacks when they happen. When businesses arm people with the tools and training they need to counter phishing threats, data remains safe. Clients remain confident. Businesses remain trusted.