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Amid the new norm created by Covid-19 Pandemic, employees and companies in India are vulnerable to cyber attacks like phishing attacks, states “Phishing Insights 2021″ published by Sophos.

Sophos, a global leader in next-generation cybersecurity states that phishing attacks targeting organisations ramped up considerably during the pandemic, as millions of employees working from home became a prime target for cybercriminals.

The majority (83%) of IT teams in India said the number of phishing emails targeting their employees increased during 2020.

Commenting on the report, Sophos Principal Research Scientist Chester Wisniewski said phishing has been around for over 25 years and remains an effective cyberattack technique.

“One of the reasons for its success is its ability to continuously evolve and diversify, tailoring attacks to topical issues or concerns, such as the pandemic, and playing on human emotions and trust,” said Chester Wisniewski.

Chester Wisniewski also pointed out that it can be tempting for organisations to see phishing attacks as a relatively low-level threat, but that underestimates their power.

“Phishing is often the first step in a complex, multi-stage attack. According to Sophos Rapid Response, attackers frequently use phishing emails to trick users into installing malware or sharing credentials that provide access to the corporate network,” said Chester Wisniewski.

The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. For instance, 67% of IT teams in India associate phishing with emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organization, and which are usually combined with a threat or request for information.

Sixty-one percent consider Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to be phishing, and half of the respondents (50%) think threadjacking – when attackers insert themselves into a legitimate email thread as part of an attack – is phishing.

The good news is that most organizations in India (98%) have implemented cybersecurity awareness programs to combat phishing. Respondents said they use computer-based training programs (67%), human-led training programs (60%), and phishing simulations (51%).

Chester Wisniewski also stated that the ideal would be to prevent phishing emails from ever reaching their intended recipient.

“Effective email security solutions can go a long way towards achieving this, but this should be complemented by alert and primed employees who are able to spot and report suspicious messages before they get any further,” said Chester Wisniewski.

Other findings of the report

· Four-fifths of Indian organizations assess the impact of their awareness program through the number of phishing-related tickets raised with IT, followed by the level of reporting of phishing emails by users (77%) and click rates on phishing emails (60%)

· All the organizations surveyed (100%) in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata say they have cybersecurity awareness program in place. This was followed by Chennai where 97% have such programs , and then Bengaluru and Mumbai at 96% each

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