Despite advances in technology to detect and contain phishing threats, employee phishing awareness should be your number one priority. It’s the most effective way to strengthen your company´s defenses against malware, ransomware, data loss and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks.
Through phishing awareness conditioning, employees can become your strongest defense against phishing attacks rather than your weakest links. Because phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, phishing awareness training must be ongoing. Rather than give employees random security briefings, you need a program of evolving phishing awareness, updated as needed to keep phishing threats top of mind for everyone.
What is Phishing Awareness?
Phishing awareness is more than being aware of what a phishing email may look like. Employees need to understand the different types of phishing, how attacks can be engineered, and the consequences of clicking on a malicious link, responding to an email with the requested information, or opening a file attached to a phish.
Employees should also know how to respond to a phishing email and report it immediately, so internal security teams can in turn prioritize, analyze and act on it fast. This is especially true when a phishing email has been opened in error, as a timely report helps Security contain a potential threat.
To bolster your phishing security awareness, encourage an environment of open communication. If employees are afraid to report their mistakes, attacks can go unnoticed, with devastating consequences. Communication should be top-down as well as bottom-up. It’s important for both lower-level employees and senior management to participate in phishing training and report suspicious emails.
What Does Phishing Awareness Training Consist Of?
Simulated attacks are the best way to raise phishing awareness. Training through simulation can take various formats. It can be part of an induction or regular training course, or done randomly to test the phishing security awareness of individuals or groups.
To make simulation training more impactful, be selective. There’s no benefit to sending your entire company a fake phishing email about an invoicing query. Only finance department employees would be interested in its content and word would quickly get around that a fake phish is coming.
Be sure to use different phishing techniques in simulations. For example, your company of course knows which employees fill key positions, plus often knows something about their personal lives. So, your phishing awareness training should include the kind of professional and personal details found in spear phishing attacks, BEC attacks and phishing attacks that use social engineering.
How to Maximize Phishing Security Awareness
To raise phishing security awareness to the highest levels, your phishing training should feature feedback, monitoring and reporting.
Feedback should go something like this: “Here’s what you did right and here’s what you did wrong,” noting the reasons why. This lets employees and senior management discover both their weaknesses and the areas they need to improve in.
Monitoring the results of phishing awareness training not only identifies employees who need further training but those who are reliable detectors of phishing. Post-training, many employees will report more potential threats to security teams. After prioritizing reports of possible phishing, security teams can respond to real threats faster.
Moreover, reporting threats to security intelligence services enables your company to receive reciprocal information about phishing attacks found elsewhere. Such information can be delivered in Machine-Readable Threat Intelligence (MRTI) format, so it can be fed directly into existing security mechanisms (i.e. malicious URL detection systems), which update your technically driven online defenses against malware, data loss and ransomware attacks.
Raise Your Phishing Awareness with Cofense
Cofense is a human-focused phishing defense solution. It engages the last line of defense—employees at all levels—after a phish evades detection by technological solutions. We raise employee phishing awareness by using our behavioral conditioning simulator and reporting button to advise internal security teams (or awareness trainers) of a potential attack.
Cofense PhishMe and Cofense Reporter are supported by Cofense Triage, a tool for automatically prioritizing reported emails and eliminating time spent chasing false positives. It lets your internal security teams focus on real threats and contain them quickly. The final part of our defense solution is Cofense Intelligence, a human-vetted, phishing-specific threat intelligence service.
Cofense has helped achieve a 95% reduction in susceptibility to phishing emails. We invite you to request a free demo and see how dramatically our solution can increase your employees´ phishing awareness. Contact us with any questions you have about phishing security awareness. We look forward to hearing from you!