Credential Phishing Prevention & 10 Steps to Safeguarding Your Digital Identity

Password and username login page, secure access on internet. Online user authentication sign-in, cyber security, data protection. Finger touching lock icon. Person entering credentials to log in.

There might not be a word that hits harder in the workplace than “credentials.” Need to access the building? Credentials. Need to login to your machine? Credentials. Want to keep the “bad” out of anyplace they shouldn’t be? Credentials.

So, when it becomes known that there are actors out their trying to phish your company’s credentials, credential phishing prevention should be taken as serious as any other cyber threat—with the goal of protecting your brand and bottom line.

What is Credential Phishing?

Credential phishing is a type of cyber attack that involves tricking individuals into providing their login credentials, such as usernames and passwords, to unauthorized third parties. Credential phishing is typically performed through deceptive methods, such as fraudulent emails, websites, or messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a trusted organization or service.

Read more about impersonation attack examples

As you might have guessed, the goal of credential phishing is to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as personal or financial data, by exploiting individuals’ trust and willingness to provide their login details. Then, once attackers have obtained these credentials, they can use them to access the victims’ accounts, steal information, conduct fraudulent activities, or even launch further attacks.

Despite increasingly sophisticated filters created to defeat these schemes, credential phishing is a growing problem.

The first step toward credential phishing prevention? Understanding how attackers are going about their business.

Credential Phishing Techniques

While there are various techniques used in credential phishing attacks, one common method is email phishing, where individuals receive emails that appear to be from a reputable organization, such as a bank or online service provider, requesting them to verify their account information or reset their password. These emails often contain links to malicious websites that mimic the legitimate ones, tricking users into entering their login credentials, which are then captured by the attackers.

Another technique is known as spear phishing, which is a more targeted approach. In spear phishing attacks, the attackers gather information about their victims, such as their job title, company, or interests, and then customize their phishing messages to appear more genuine and relevant to the recipients. This digital manipulation increases the likelihood of victims falling for the scam and providing their user credentials.

A third method is vishing (voice phishing), where attackers use phone calls instead of emails to deceive victims into revealing their credentials. The attacker might impersonate a trusted entity, such as a bank representative or IT support, and create a sense of urgency to coax the victim into disclosing sensitive information. For example, they may claim there is a problem with the victim’s account that requires immediate verification of login details.

Last, smishing (SMS phishing) is another prevalent technique. In smishing attacks, cybercriminals send text messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as a bank or service provider. Similar to the above, these messages often include urgent requests to verify account information or follow a link to prevent account suspension. The link typically leads to a fake website where the victim is tricked into entering their login credentials, which are then harvested by the attackers.

Credential Phishing Prevention & Defense

To protect against credential phishing attacks, it is important for individuals and organizations to be aware of the signs of phishing.

Here are some best practices to follow for credential phishing prevention:

Be cautious of unsolicited emails: Be skeptical of emails that ask for your login credentials or personal details. Legitimate organizations usually do not request such information via email, so this should be an immediate red flag.

Verify the source: Before entering your login credentials on a website, ensure that the website is legitimate. Check for secure connections (https://), valid SSL certificates, and familiar domain names.

Keep software up to date: Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and security software to protect against known vulnerabilities.

Use strong, unique passwords: Choose passwords that are long, complex, and difficult to guess. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Might seem basic, but you’d be surprised!

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your login credentials.

Educate employees: Organizations should provide training on phishing awareness and best practices to their employees. This includes teaching them how to identify phishing emails, what to do if they encounter one, and how to report suspicious activity.

Implement email filters and spam detection: Implementing email filters and spam detection can help identify and block phishing emails before they reach users’ inboxes.

Regularly backup data: Regularly backing up important data can help strengthen your credential phishing prevention defense. In the event of a successful attack, organizations can restore their data from a backup and minimize data loss.

Conduct phishing simulations: Organizations can conduct phishing simulations to test the awareness and response of their employees. This can help identify areas of improvement and provide targeted training.

Stay informed: Stay up to date on the latest phishing techniques and trends. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving their tactics, so it is important to stay informed and adapt security measures accordingly.

By following these best practices, individuals and organizations can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to credential phishing attacks. And it’s not just a “one and done” approach to credential phishing prevention—implementing a multi-layered approach that combines technology, employee education, and regular security updates is crucial in protecting against this growing threat.

Bolster proactively monitors for potential threats and provides options for neutralizing those threats. From malicious app store postings, to threats on the dark web, Bolster can provide support that’s tailored to your business. Request a demo with us today to start protecting your business.