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 awareness conditioning, employees can become your strongest defense against phishing attacks rather than your weakest links. Because phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, phishing training for employees must be ongoing. Rather than give employees random security briefings, you need a program of evolving awareness, updated as needed to keep phishing threats top of mind for everyone.

What Does It Mean To Be Aware of Phishing?

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 A Phishing Awareness Campaign Consist Of?

Simulated phishing awareness emails to employees or staged attacks are one of the best ways to raise awareness. Training through an awareness campaign can take various formats. It can be part of an on-boarding program, regular training course, or done randomly to test the phishing security awareness of individuals or groups.

Spear phishing and BEC attacks can be highly refined and personal. To make simulation training more impactful, craft messages that are addressed to an individual or specific group. Employ the personal and professional information you have on file to better simulate real phishing attacks that utilize social engineering. Sending a general phishing email containing a fake invoice query is simpler but may lack the relevant content that will make it an effective educational tool for every department.

The goals of simulated phishing attacks should be to build employee confidence, encourage communication, and establish habits that mitigate phishing attacks. Successfully using simulations is just one part of a larger phishing awareness campaign.

Using Phishing Awareness Tips to Maximize Phishing Security Awareness

Use these phishing tips 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 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 awareness by using our behavioral conditioning simulation training 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. Quickly search and quarantine bad emails in all your business inboxes with Cofense Vision. All searches and actions are recorded ensuring it is helping your company satisfy regulatory needs.  Cofense 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 using our phishing awareness scenarios can dramatically increase your employees´ awareness.  Contact us with any questions you have about phishing security awareness. We look forward to hearing from you!