To combat the threat of phishing, organizations should implement a range of technical safeguards to prevent malicious emails from reaching end users, but your anti-phishing strategy should also include phishing training for employees. Even with cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions in place that provide overlapping layers of protection, phishing threats will be encountered by employees. All it takes is for one individual to respond to such a threat for malware to be installed or for credentials to be compromised, which can result in a destructive cyberattack or devastating data breach.
According to a 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends Report by CISCO, 80% of security breaches reported in 2021 were due to phishing and almost 90% of data breaches had their roots in phishing attacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that phishing attacks doubled in 2020 and continue to be the leading cause of complaints to its Internet Crime Complaint Center. In 2022, the Anti-Phishing Working Group reports that at least 90,000 phishing campaigns are detected each month, and each of those campaigns can include tens of thousands or millions of emails.
Phishing emails used to be relatively easy to identify, but that is no longer the case. Standard mass phishing campaigns are still conducted that use tried and tested methods, but phishing has become much more sophisticated and targeted. Individuals and trusted entities are spoofed, phishing emails often include the logos of the companies they impersonate and genuine contact information for those companies, and the emails are often extremely well written. Spear phishing campaigns are conducted that target specific individuals, with those individuals extensively researched. The emails targeting those individuals are highly personalized to increase the probability of the emails being opened. A diverse range of lures is used to get people to click, and constantly changing tactics and techniques mean phishing emails do bypass email security defenses.
Phishing targets vulnerabilities in humans and uses social engineering techniques to trick them into installing malware, disclosing sensitive information, or taking other actions that can harm an organization. While these threats can be difficult to identify, there are common signs of phishing and employees can be trained to look for those red flags. If the workforce knows what to look for, these threats can be avoided and reported to the security team, allowing action to be taken to remove all threats from the email system before the emails start attracting clicks.
Goals of Phishing Training for Employees
The main goals of phishing training for employees are to raise awareness of the threat of phishing, to train employees to look for the signs of phishing emails, to get them to think before clicking any link or opening an attachment, and to get them to report any suspicious emails to their security team. Phishing training for employees is important because it doesn’t matter how many layers of phishing protection are implemented, it is simply not possible to ensure that every phishing email, text message, or social media threat is blocked.
When a threat is encountered, employees need to be able to recognize that the request is suspicious and report it, and to do that you need to be providing regular phishing and security awareness training to the workforce. Everyone should be included in the training program, at all levels in the organization, including the C-suite. The credentials of the CEO and the CFO are the ultimate prize in a phishing attack, as the systems and data they have access to are the most valuable – A successful attack on a member of the C-suite could give a phisher access to the crown jewels of an organization.
Organizations can start with improving phishing awareness immediately, simply by sending emails and documents to employees; however, more comprehensive security awareness and phishing training for employees should be provided. A single email, document, or even a classroom training session is not going to develop the security culture that every organization needs to work on developing. Training needs to be an ongoing process, as the tactics and techniques of cybercriminals are constantly changing, the types of phishing threats employees will encounter will change over time, and to keep security fresh in the mind, training needs to be regularly reinforced.
Best Practices to Adopt When Proving Phishing Training for Employees
There are proven strategies for providing phishing training for employees for improving knowledge retention, ensuring all members of the workforce have taken the training on board and are applying their training day in day out, and ensuring you get the best return on your investment in training.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel – There is no need to develop your own phishing training for employees from scratch. Use a cybersecurity vendor such as TitanHQ that provides an extensive library of training content, covering all aspects of security, including phishing threats.
Use a variety of training methods – Classroom-based training will work well for some employees, but others may prefer computer-based training. Infographics, videos, and other interactive training content should also be provided, and training should be gamified, enjoyable, and engaging to help get the message across.
Test employees’ knowledge – After providing phishing training for employees, use quizzes to test whether the training has been taken on board and employees have understood.
Provide structured training – Conduct comprehensive annual training sessions, with half-yearly and quarterly shorter training provided to reinforce the need for security awareness. Also consider monthly cybersecurity newsletters to raise awareness of new threats.
Use phishing simulations – Phishing simulations are a useful tool for gauging security awareness. Conduct simulations before training to get a baseline, and then conduct simulations regularly to see how security awareness is improving. Simulations highlight gaps in knowledge that can be addressed in future training sessions, and employees who fall for simulated phishing emails should be given immediate feedback on what went wrong and be provided with further training. Simulations should use real-world phishing threats and should be varied to test how employees respond to all types of phishing attempts.
Help employees report suspicious emails – Phishing training for employees will help employees recognize and avoid threats, but they also need to report emails to the security team. Make that as easy as possible by setting up a quick and easy system of reporting and encourage employees to report all suspicious emails. A mail client add-on that allows single-click reporting will help.
Choose TitanHQ as Your Security Awareness Training Partner
TitanHQ offers a comprehensive security awareness training solution – SafeTitan Security Awareness Training – that covers phishing recognition and other vital aspects of security. The content has been developed to be entertaining, enjoyable, and interactive to engage employees to maximize knowledge retention. The platform also incorporates a phishing simulation platform for developing, automating, and reporting back on responses to simulated phishing emails, with hundreds of customizable templates for testing responses to the full range of phishing threats.
SafeTitan is the only behavior-driven security awareness training platform that delivers training in real-time in response to the actions of employees, whether that is a response to a simulated phishing email or a bad security practice – ensuring employees are immediately notified, training is provided, and risky behaviors are prevented in the future.
Get in touch with TitanHQ today for more information on how to start providing phishing training for employees and improving the awareness of your workforce about security threats. A demo of the solution can be arranged on request.