A phishing simulator is a very useful tool for testing the security awareness of the workforce to identify individuals who would likely be fooled by a real phishing email. Data from phishing simulations in the workplace show that it is possible for employers to significantly improve security awareness through training and phishing simulations.
Why Conduct Security Phishing Simulations?
If you do not currently provide security awareness training to your workforce, you are taking a huge risk. Email security products and other anti-phishing solutions will block the majority of phishing attempts, but not all. It is inevitable that some threats will arrive in inboxes, even if you have extensive technical controls to block phishing attacks. It is therefore important to provide security awareness training to the workforce. Employees need to be taught how to work securely and how to identify threats such as phishing. Security awareness training, if provided regularly, can make a big difference to the overall security of your organization.
It is unrealistic to expect workforce training to result in every employee being able to identify every threat, but over time, security awareness will improve. A phishing simulator helps to accelerate the development of a security culture by identifying the specific employees that have either not fully understood their training or are not applying their training on a day-to-day basis. By using a phishing simulator to conduct internal phishing campaigns, businesses can identify employees that are fooled by phishing emails and can then provide targeted training to those individuals.
Just like muscles need to be exercised to stay strong, the same is true in cybersecurity. Employees need practice at identifying phishing emails, so that when a real threat arrives in their inbox, they will be alert and be able to identify it for what it is – or at least report it to their IT department to check. Phishing simulations give employees practical experience of dealing with phishing emails and can help to improve understanding of threats.
A phishing simulator should be used to identify where individual training is needed, but there are other benefits. Simulations can be used to test the effectiveness of the training course and to identify any phishing tactics that are fooling everyone. The training content can then be adjusted to cover the specific methods that are proving to be so effective. Simulations can also be used to determine the ideal frequency that training should be provided. The simulations can show if security awareness is declining over time to identify the sweet spot for when refresher training needs to be provided.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Phishing Simulator
Using a phishing simulator can improve security awareness of the workforce but it is important to use one correctly as there is some potential for negative repercussions. When used correctly, a phishing simulator can help to reduce click rates in phishing emails and increase reporting rates. Get it wrong and employees can feel victimized and that can lead to the development of a hostile working environment, and certainly animosity against the IT department.
To avoid this, you should explain to employees that the company cybersecurity strategy involves conducting phishing simulations, and that this is part of the training process. Explain that these emails are intended only to improve understanding of cybersecurity threats, and that failing a simulation only means the identification of a training opportunity. Make it clear that simulated attacks are not conducted to catch people out. Don’t punish employees for failing simulations and never name and shame employees. You should be using positive not negative reinforcement.
Use a phishing simulation platform that automates phishing campaigns and one that provides intervention training in real time. If an employee fails a phishing test they should be notified immediately and told how they could have identified the signs of phishing in the email. They can then be provided with a short training video on what to look for next time. This is likely to have a much greater impact on future behavior than when training is provided well after the event that triggered it.
Conduct phishing simulations using lures with varying difficulty. Start with basic tests that are fairly easy to identify, then incorporate more difficult tests. Cyber threat actors will use a range of lures in their attacks, so your internal campaigns should reflect that.
Don’t overdo the phishing simulations. A phishing simulator is a useful tool but should be used sparingly. Conducting too many tests could have an impact on productivity without providing any real value. One or two emails a month for each employee should be sufficient, relative to risk. High risk individuals – those that regularly fall for phishing emails and those that are targeted more often by cybercriminals – will need more regular testing than those who are proficient at identifying phishing or are rarely targeted.
Mix up the timing of your tests. Don’t conduct simulations at the same time each month. Employees should be aware that you are conducting dummy internal phishing campaigns, but not exactly when those tests are conducted. Don’t test an entire department at the same time, as that is likely to see employees tipping each other off that a test is being conducted.
The SafeTitan Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulator Platform
SafeTitan is a comprehensive security awareness training platform that includes a wealth of training content on all aspects of security, allowing businesses to tailor their training to cover the threats they face. The training content is engaging, gamified, and enjoyable, and incorporates videos, written content, and quizzes. The platform makes creating and implementing a training course simple. SafeTitan is also the only behavior-driven security awareness training platform that delivers training in real time in response to security errors by employees.
The phishing simulator component includes hundreds of phishing templates taken from real world phishing attacks, with the scope to customize campaigns for each business. It can be used to fully automate campaigns and gives detailed reports on all actions taken by employees in response to the emails, including automating notifications about test failures and the provision of additional training.
For more information on how to conduct phishing simulations effectively and to find out more about SafeTitan, give the TitanHQ team a call today.