Phishing attacks can be devastating to organizations, threatening critical data or damaging company reputation. Employees should receive regular cybersecurity awareness training on how to spot and report phishing emails.
Security awareness does not depend on sending out lengthy PowerPoint presentations or videos; its success requires tailored, personalized learning programs.
What is phishing training?
Phishing training is a security awareness program designed to teach employees how to recognize phishing emails and report them directly to IT teams. It also establishes an alertness culture in an organization, so everyone from senior management down can detect attempted fraudsters.
Employees should understand how phishing works as cybercriminals increasingly use personalized themes, misspelled words and irregular formatting techniques to avoid detection by email security tools. Modern-day phishing attacks typically employ personalized themes with misspelled words to appear legitimate, while others implement business email compromise (BEC) techniques in order to gain credentials or access sensitive data.
To effectively address these threats, phishing training must be tailored specifically to users who are most at risk from real attacks. A phishing testing module like Mimecast’s Phish Testing Solution can help identify risky users and deliver training that’s applicable directly to them – saving both time and resources on general awareness training that doesn’t provide anything of value. Engaging learners through interactive or gamification elements are ideal choices.
5 Steps to Implement Phishing Awareness Training
Step one of implementing phishing attack awareness training is selecting an effective program. The most successful security awareness programs provide hands-on, interactive education with realistic simulated phishing attacks.
Cybercriminals often employ phishing attacks as an attempt to gain entry to online accounts or obtain confidential employee data, leading to costly data breaches according to Proofpoint’s 2022 State of Phish Report. To effectively combat phishing attacks, businesses must place security awareness training as a top priority and invest in cybersecurity awareness campaigns and awareness training for employees.
Phishing attacks often appear as emails from business partners or vendors and include links hidden within attachments to bypass sandboxing technology, making phishing attacks hard for employees to detect without adequate training and tools.
Security or IT personnel may understand terms like phishing, spear phishing and social engineering better than the average employee; thus it’s essential that every organization provide training on phishing attack awareness to all employees in order to help them recognize its dangers as quickly as possible and report suspicious emails or incidents promptly.
1. Plan Employee Education Materials
Phishing training should be part of every organization’s cybersecurity plan, turning employees into human firewalls while creating a security-centric culture within your workplace.
The best phishing attack awareness training programs provide tailored training to specific roles with real-life examples that keep employees vigilant against such attacks. Furthermore, frequent and ongoing training is provided so as to remain vigilant at all times.
Generalized training approaches tend to be ineffective and lead to low participation and apathy – two key contributors in failing to recognize and report phishing attacks. By contrast, focused training yields better results and may better protect employees against cyber attacks.
An effective phishing training program should cover a range of topics, from safe online browsing to how to identify suspicious attachments. Employees should also be encouraged to adhere to other security protocols like creating strong passwords and securely storing them; reporting culture should also be encouraged and remind employees who to reach out when encountering suspicious emails; for optimum effectiveness of your phishing training, be sure to analyze data regarding how well it is working.
2. Assign Phishing Attack Training Quiz
Phishing attacks remain one of the primary methods hackers use to breach company networks and access sensitive data, leaving employees as your weakest link. Conducting phishing simulation tests with built-in security awareness training is an effective way to gauge individual employee risk exposure and identifies any individuals needing additional refresher courses on recognizing and reporting suspicious emails.
Phishing emails may appear to come from trusted colleagues or vendors, and cybercriminals use these deceptions to trick users into clicking links or providing credentials to questionable websites. Employees should be encouraged to share any suspicious emails with IT and report any doubts they have about its authenticity through communication channels such as Slack.
CurrentWare and BrowseReporter make setting up a phishing test simple; just a few clicks are all it takes for your designated admins to receive an alert whenever a user visits a simulated URL, showing each person who visited, the endpoint they used to access it, as well as date/time information about their visit.
3. Deploy Simulated Phishing Campaigns
As phishing attacks become more sophisticated and targeted, it’s increasingly important for organizations to test employees on their ability to identify fraudulent emails. One effective method for doing this is through simulated phishing campaigns – managed attacks that mimic real-life attempts at phishing.
An ideal SaaS solution allows organizations to track employee behavior during phishing simulations, including when emails are opened, clicked upon, downloaded, executed or when credentials are entered on fake websites. This data helps organizations gauge the success of their phishing awareness training and ultimately improve it over time.
Consider working closely with HR or IT to ensure the simulated phishing campaign aligns with overall security and compliance goals, with clear processes in place for employees to report any incidents of phishing attacks. A cross-functional approach may also help eliminate siloed departments working for themselves while decreasing data breaches or compliance violations.
Encourage employees to report any phishing attacks by rewarding them for their diligence – this could include raffles of company swag or public recognition in internal communications channels; even just receiving recognition from their manager or VP can go a long way!
4. Teach Employees How to Report Phishing Attacks
Security professionals and IT/compliance managers may understand terms like phishing, spear phishing and social engineering; however, the average employee may not. Therefore, phishing awareness training must include instructions on how to report suspicious emails and incidents as soon as they appear.
Tools exist that enable employees to submit reports directly from email inboxes, eliminating the need for cybersecurity specialists to process reports manually and thus speed up response times. Make sure all employees know about a short and easy-to-remember email address for reporting phishing attacks as this will significantly speed up reporting processes.
Additionally, phishing training should include instructions on recognizing red flags in an email message, such as grammar and stylistic errors that stand out, as well as differences between an authentic attachment or link and one that’s fraudulent. Recurring phishing simulation campaigns shouldn’t be sent too frequently as that could trigger “information fatigue” among employees – rather they should be integrated into overall security protocols of an organization and delivered regularly without disrupting employees’ workflows.
5. Evaluate Results and Test Regularly
Phishing remains a serious threat for enterprises; according to Proofpoint’s State of Phish Report it was the most prevalent cybercrime of 2021 and attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harder to detect.
Attackers are using personal data about employees to personalize phishing emails more resonantly and, commonly referred to as spear phishing. It often serves as the initial step in more targeted attacks against your business that lead to Business Email Compromise (BEC) or other costly breaches.
Security awareness training is a fundamental element of any cybersecurity strategy, yet to make the most of it, you need a holistic approach encompassing technology, process and people – one which reduces your risk of phishing attacks or data breaches while not impacting employee productivity.
To maximize the success of your phishing awareness program, focus on tracking its progress over time. Don’t just use click rates as an indicator – this gives an inaccurate depiction of its efficacy – instead assess whether your organization has adopted security best practices.
Why do you need phishing training?
Phishing attack training teaches employees how to recognize and report suspicious emails quickly, helping security teams to quickly contain threats. This prevents breaches and allows teams to act more quickly.
Phishing awareness training should be tailored and personalized. Content should be presented in small bites that can be consumed quickly, using images and video to capture users’ attention. Furthermore, this approach increases engagement and retention compared to traditional classroom-based training that often becomes dull over time.
Personalized content is particularly effective against email-borne threats like business email compromise (BEC), which employs various psychological tactics to lure employees into clicking on malicious links or attachments. Attackers might pose as colleagues asking to review account info. Personalized emails also work effectively as potential hazards.
Maintaining awareness of phishing attacks requires keeping up with the latest phishing templates and lures, using threat intelligence to deliver targeted education and simulations that ensure fresh content delivery, knowledge retention, and increased effectiveness.