No matter how secure your corporate network is, how comprehensive your IT documentation is or how often you perform risk assessments and update your cyber security accordingly – the human element is the weakest link in your security protocols. Phishing has been around almost since the beginning of the internet. And, despite people being more aware than ever about the dangers, it is still the most lucrative form of online fraud.
The number of phishing attacks has tripled since early 2020, and a report from Cisco shows that 90% of all data breaches start with a successful phishing attack. That’s why phishing awareness training is such an important part of a cyber security strategy. Security awareness training teaches your employees to identify suspicious emails and thus protect themselves and your company from cyber criminals and other malicious actors.
But just saying that your employees need phishing training isn’t enough because not all phishing awareness training is the same.
So here is what you should look for when choosing a phishing and security awareness training program for your company:
Anyone who has worked with email for more than a year knows about phishing emails. But as technology advances, so do the many ways that threat actors carry out their phishing campaigns. Generalised phishing campaigns use social engineering to override a victim’s natural caution, and these days phishing campaigns will often take the form of an SMS rather than an email.
Malicious actors will also focus their efforts on what is known as spear phishing. This is where they gather information about a target and use it to craft more personal attacks. These socially engineered attacks are often used against targets identified as ‘whales’.
Deepfake technology takes this even further, with AI and machine learning making it possible for fraudsters to mimic a real person’s voice (known as vishing) or create fake compromising photos and videos of a victim.
Every employee and every company is unique. While there are certain elements of phishing training that every course should offer, your training needs to identify the issues that present the biggest risk to your organisation as a whole as well as each employee. This means delivering the right content to the right users in the right way.
The threats your average worker and your management team need to be most aware of would be different. How they go about reporting phishing attacks – successful or not – may also differ due to their level of system access. Other factors such as life experience, culture, and geography are also important.
Measuring the effectiveness of your phishing training starts with conducting a phishing awareness test when training first begins, as well as launching regular simulated phishing campaigns. This is where your cyber security provider or phishing awareness training provider sends ‘fake’ phishing emails and messages to your employees.
The hope is that they’ll identify the suspicious message and report it instead of clicking on the malicious link. But while ‘click rates’ can tell you how many employees are potential security risks, the trick is to look for behavioural changes over time. Are employees getting better at identifying phishing emails and reporting them? Are they following proper procedure when they accidentally click a malicious link?
Measuring the effectiveness of your training can also help you to identify and manage high-risk employees. That includes employees who regularly fail to identify a threat, as well as those who make attractive targets for various reasons.
Simply saying that your employees need to be aware of phishing doesn’t fully explain what security awareness training does. It starts with educating your employees on the risks of sharing confidential information in an email, clicking a malicious link, or identifying suspicious messages.
But the best phishing awareness courses will include helping your company develop a process for reporting suspicious emails, creating a system to prioritise those reports, and developing procedures for when someone has clicked a malicious link.
There are a number of factors that determine how effective a phishing awareness training course is. The comprehensiveness of the initial training is a factor, but researchers have found that reinforcing training with regular refreshers is also important. The training methods used are also important, with video and interactive training being the most effective.
Reporting a phishing attempt is important for two reasons. The first is that general phishing campaigns rarely target just one person at a time. So if your security team is aware of a specific campaign, they can send out a warning to all employees and take steps to block that sender.
Reporting a successful phishing attack is even more important because it allows your security team to get into action and contain the breach as quickly as possible. The faster a breach is identified, the easier it is to contain the damage. This costs your company less in the long run, and your recovery time is reduced.
There are various sites where you can find phishing awareness tests and quizzes for your employees. A more effective option is to approach a phishing awareness training organisation like Phriendly Phishing and have them conduct a test for you. We’ll be able to use those results to design a custom phishing awareness program tailored to your employees' specific weaknesses and threats your company may regularly face.
We live and breathe phishing awareness training and have worked hard to ensure our training is accessible, affordable, and effective. And our hard work has paid off, as our training programs have been recognised with multiple awards.
If you want to ensure your corporate network remains as secure as possible, then contact us to book your comprehensive phishing and security awareness training today. We can promise that you won’t regret it!