Phishing attacks have become one of the biggest security risks today’s businesses face. In fact, about three-quarters of organizations say that they encountered phishing attacks in 2017.

The most successful phishing attacks usually come in the form of emails.

Criminals make emails that look legitimate in an attempt to trick employees and managers into giving them sensitive information. Phishing emails may contain malware that infects your network, links to fraudulent websites, or requests for login information.

When your employees fall for the phishing scam, your company can suffer from compromised accounts, malware infections, and loss of data. Falling for a phishing scam can also damage your business’s reputation. Remember the widespread coverage of Equifax’s data breach? You don’t want something similar to tarnish your relationships with current and potential clients.

Because phishing scams can harm your company in several ways, you need to know some effective ways to protect your SMB from attacks.

1. Train employees to spot phishing attempts

Don’t assume that your employees know how to spot phishing emails. Instead, give them the training that they need to identify and report potential attacks.

Some common traits of phishing emails include:

A short training session can make your employees aware of these traits.

You should also create an internal email address that lets employees report potential attacks. That way, you will know about any attempts to sidestep your network security.

2. Test the effectiveness of your training

A lot of companies reinforce their training sessions by sending employees emails that intentionally include the traits of phishing attempts. This is a good way to spot any knowledge gaps that could put your business at risk.

When you send test phishing emails, pay attention to which employees report the incident. You can reward them for doing a good job.

Employees who do not report the phishing emails may need extra training. Don’t punish them for failing the test. Instead, give them more opportunities to learn.

3. Make sure legitimate emails look legitimate

Training and testing are two of the most effective things that you can do to prevent phishing attacks against your SMB. Unfortunately, many managers and owners confuse their employees by writing legitimate emails that look like phishing attempts.

Make sure that everyone in the company knows how to write professional emails. Otherwise, your employees won’t know how to differentiate poorly written emails from phishing attacks.

4. Start monitoring your network

SMB networks have gotten larger and more complicated since more companies started realizing the benefits of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). If you use BYOD, then you need to write policies that lower the risk of getting attacked.

Start by having your employees register their devices so the network will recognize them. If some of your employees work from home, then you should also get the IP address of their home devices.

Once you have registered everyone’s devices, set security parameters that prevent unknown devices from accessing your network or cloud applications.

If you already employ an IT professional with experience in network monitoring, then you can assign the task to that person. Otherwise, you may want to partner with a managed services provider.