Venture Capital Firm Hacked Through Phishing Email

phishing email attack

Well-known venture capital firm Sequoia Capital has made a public statement confirming that unauthorized third parties have gained access to data held by the company through a phishing email. 

Following the successful phishing attack, the company was forced to notify affected customers that their data had been compromised and bring in external cybersecurity experts, as well as law enforcement. 

While the Sequoia Capital hack is certainly not an isolated incident, there’s no doubt that it will be damaging to the leading venture capital firm. 

With more than 100 corporate clients and 200 international clients, the company is highly regarded worldwide, although the impact of the breach is likely to affect their global reputation. 

What is a Phishing Attack?

Phishing attacks are a type of social engineering cyberattack that trick users into disclosing confidential information. A hacker may send an email that purports to be from a trusted sender, for example and dupe the recipient into replying or clicking a link. 

Subsequent interactions result in the user inadvertently disclosing information, such as passwords or data, or in malicious software (malware) being installed on the user’s device. 

As the Sequoia Capital hack highlighted, it’s often a user’s lack of knowledge surrounding cybersecurity that results in the threat turning into a successful attack. At Sequoia Capital, it was an employee who received a phishing email, which led to them disclosing information that allowed the hackers to gain access to confidential information and data. 

Preventing Phishing Attacks

When hackers attempt to employ phishing attacks, there are two primary ways of preventing the attack from being successful. 

Firstly, effective email monitoring can root out correspondence sent from spoof addresses and prevent phishing emails from entering an inbox. Secondly, employee training and education can enhance the ability of staff to spot phishing attacks. 

If either of these measures had been implemented effectively at Sequoia Capital, it’s likely that the attack would have been thwarted at an early stage. 

However, it isn’t just leading venture capital firms or global businesses that need to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Small and mid-size businesses remain just as vulnerable when it comes to cyberattacks. In fact, the limited resources that smaller businesses have often makes them a prime target for hackers. 

Enhancing Your Cybersecurity Strategy

If you want to protect your company from the same type of attack that felled Sequoia Capital, it’s vital to revise and update your cybersecurity strategy. 

One IT company in Washington, D.C., explains that one of the best ways to protect your business from these kinds of attacks is to seek “expert advice and specialized tools to navigate the complex road to achieving and maintaining compliance, and establish a control-driven approach to cybersecurity.”

From data encryption and end-point protection to threat monitoring and round-the-clock support, these tools protect you from attacks like the one Sequoia Capital faced. 

At a time when many businesses are adjusting their working practices and operating with distributed teams, it’s more important than ever to ensure your cybersecurity strategy is fit for purpose. As employees embrace new software and devices to facilitate remote working, for example, hackers are seizing the opportunity to infiltrate systems and networks. 

By working with specialist cybersecurity experts, however, you can ensure that your business is protected from cyberattacks and the far-reaching effects they have. 

Chris Turn

Chris Turn