Cybersecurity threats are one of the leading concerns for businesses. Cyber attacks cost billions of dollars each year, and unfortunately, the numbers are only growing over time.
With technological advancement, hackers and cybercriminals have also become stronger and wiser.
Proofpoint's State of the Phish report 2022 revealed that around 91% of UK companies were affected by at least one successful email-based phishing attack in the previous year. Moreover, 84% of organizations experienced an email-based ransomware attack.
Since cybersecurity firms can't ensure foolproof protection against such attacks, organizations need to conduct phishing training to instill awareness and behavior change in their employees.
Let's see how businesses can protect themselves from phishing attacks with training.
Phishing is a cybersecurity threat where the cybercriminal sends fraudulent emails to manipulate the recipient into giving them sensitive information. The purpose can be to extract their passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information, or other data.
Phishing can take several forms, including:
These emails or websites look like they are from a credible company, but in reality, they are not. Attackers make the URL of such websites so similar to the actual domains that the recipient can't differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake.
In addition, the attackers also keep the website design similar to the company's real one. Domain spoofing can also be done via emails sent from close-to-original company's email addresses.
In this type, phishing attacks include personalized and targeted emails for each employee. First, the attackers extract information about every individual and then design their emails to interest the victims.
The attacker disguises themself as the company's CEO and sends emails to lower-level employees asking about sensitive information or transferring money to a bank account owned by the cybercriminal.
The opposite of CEO fraud, whaling targets upper-level executives with personalized emails that look credible. Again, they ask for sensitive information about an employee or give them false information about something.
Phishing can come in many shapes and forms, so it can be pretty difficult for your employees to identify such emails. In general, your employees must know that:
First and foremost, they must evaluate every email before responding to it.
They shouldn't trust any email from any purported sender since the attackers can manipulate emails in various forms. They clearly understand the psychology of their victims and act accordingly to make them believe that the emails are from a credible source.
These emails can have similar display names and cousin domains. For example, they may use a legitimate company name as the email sender that looks like "Microsoft Support" but the actual email underneath would be something like "firstname.lastname@example.org."
On the other hand, in domain spoofing, the email address of a credible company may look like "Google.co" instead of "Google.com." Besides, cybercriminals may also use extensions to manipulate the users, such as "google-support.org" or "google-logins.net."
Every employee must identify all such email tricks to never disclose their sensitive information to these attackers.
While some emails have altered domains or addresses, others may look just fine. However, the content may have subtle grammatical errors or stylistic issues.
Hackers today are more clever than ever. They now have resources to develop clean emails with legitimate email addresses and fewer mistakes. Moreover, they now also know the language and tone of their victims.
Usually, the corporate email includes links to official websites for promotional purposes. Hackers take advantage of this by including deceptive links in phishing emails to direct users to their fake and fraudulent websites.
For example, an email with a call-to-action (CTA) at the bottom saying, "Open Skrill Account" may look legit. But when the user clicks on it, the link takes them to a phishing webpage designed like Skrill's official site.
Some hackers also use attachments, like PDF or Word files, instead of including a link in the email body. Since sandboxing technology only checks attachments, the email will look clean.
Thus, employers must conduct phishing training sessions to tell their employees to hover over all links and attachments before actually clicking them. This way, they can check the pop-up that shows the link's real landing page. If it opens another website, it's most likely a phishing attack.
Many employees believe that brand logos and images guarantee that the email is real. That's because the brand images and logos are easily available, and any person can download them.
Most hackers also include antivirus badges into emails to convince the recipients that the email is from a legitimate source.
Although email filters can identify a previously-sent phishing email, they may overlook them if hackers use altered images or logos. This is why these criminals distort the brand logos a little to pass any detection.
Employees need to know that malicious text and URLs can be hidden in QR codes or lurk in images.
Phishing training provides employers with a solution to create awareness in their employees so they don't reveal sensitive information unintentionally. These sessions focus on improving an employee's response to phishing emails.
Employers conduct interactive sessions, quizzes, and tests to help their employees identify phishing emails and respond to them appropriately.
Phishing attacks can be of two major types:
· Broad attacks targeting the entire organization
· Targeted attacks on specific individuals on C-level executives, directors, or managers
In both types of attacks, attackers scroll through the internet and gather information available on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn profiles, to craft more personalized and effective phishing attacks. Cybercriminals are also classified on different levels of knowledge, intelligence, and sophistication.
Some are experts in their fields and know the best techniques to target the users. Meanwhile, the others are amateurs, which is why they're more likely to use quick, unsophisticated methods to attack.
Sadly, an organization's sensitive information is only a click away from being revealed to cybercriminals. These attackers can then sell this information to your competitors or publicly publish it. Of course, no one wants that.
This is why phishing training is so important. It helps your employees identify phishing emails and respond promptly and correctly.
So whether your trained employees are working from a physical office or home, you'll be assured that your security is not at risk.
The most effective ways of conducting phishing training include:
If your employees don't know about phishing forms and methods, how will they know what to be careful about? So, the first step is to conduct a series of informative sessions to create awareness about phishing.
Divide different topics into short sessions so that your employees don't get turned off from long sessions. Address:
- What phishing is and how it happens
- Different methods and tricks used by cybercriminals
- Personal and professional risks involved in phishing attacks
- How cybercriminals extract your information to compose personalized emails
Inviting expert speakers in the informative sessions helps organizations execute phishing training the right way. These professionals have profound knowledge about cyberattacks, which they share with the employees to educate them.
Experts know how to send the message across.
Practical experience is always the best teacher. This is why many organizations arrange phishing simulation training to give their employees a real-life phishing experience.
Here, employers send phishing emails to their employees to gain better insights into the potential business threats. This helps them customize their training sessions accordingly to make the most out of them.
Videos help the audience understand the message better, but they can get boring at some point. So, to prevent your employees from any sort of distractions, you can include interactive videos in the phishing training.
These videos will keep your employees engaged throughout, so they will learn more effectively.
Additionally, distributing short quizzes on phishing before, during, and after the training sessions will retain the employees' attention. To perform better in these quizzes, they will try to learn more and more.
Since your employees are now students, you can use all the best teaching tools on them. One such tool is PowerPoint Presentations.
To avail better results, you should:
- Opt for a clear and lively theme
- Present the information in short bullet points.
- Add animations and visuals.
- Use humorous and fun elements.
Also, make sure to make these presentations accessible to your employees after the training.
Ensuring your cybersecurity awareness can be quite daunting, especially since every employee has a different level of intelligence. So, the key to achieving the best results from phishing training is changing their behaviors.
Having so many things on the plate, it's almost impossible for managers to prepare their employees manually. Therefore, it's better to use an automated solution, like Hoxhunt, to stay aware of recent attack trends and develop individual learning tracks.
With Hoxhunt, you can provide your employees with positive and interactive training that makes them more vigilant.