Security Awareness

5-Award Haul for TitanHQ in Expert Insights Fall 2022 ‘Best-Of’ Awards

TitanHQ has collected 5 awards for its cybersecurity solutions in the Expert Insights Fall 2022 ‘Best-Of’ Awards across 5 product categories.

Expert Insights is an online platform for businesses that provides independent advice on business software solutions to help businesses make informed purchasing decisions about software solutions. The advice provided on the website is honest and objective, and the site features helpful guides to help businesses purchase with confidence. The site is used by more than 85,000 businesses each month, with the website helping more than 1 million readers each year.

Twice yearly, Best-of awards are given to the top ten solutions in each of the 41 product categories. The awards showcase the best quality solutions that are helping businesses to achieve their goals and defend against the barrage of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. The awards are based on several factors, such as the features of products, market presence, ease of use, and customer satisfaction scores, with the award winners chosen by the in-house team of editors. The editorial team conducts research into each solution to assess its performance, functionality, and usability, and assesses the reviews from genuine business users of the solutions.

TitanHQ collected five awards for its products in the Spring 2022 Best-of awards, and this has been followed up with another 5 Fall 2022 Best-of awards. TitanHQ was given a Best-of award for SafeTitan in the Phishing Simulation and Security Awareness Training categories, SpamTitan Cloud received an award in the Email Security category, WebTitan Cloud got an award in the Web Security category, and ArcTitan won in the Email Archiving category. Further, ArcTitan Email Archiving was rated the top solution in the Email Archiving category and SpamTitan was rated the top solution in the Email Security category.

There were several big winners at the Fall 2022 Expert Insights Best-of awards, with TitanHQ joining companies such as ESET, CrowdStrike, and Connectwise in winning big.

“We are honored that TitanHQ was named as a Fall 2022 winner of Expert Insights Best-Of award for phishing simulation, email security, security awareness training, web security and email archiving” said TitanHQ CEO, Ronan Kavanagh.  “Our cloud-based platform allows partners and MSPs to take advantage of TitanHQ’s proven technology so they can sell, implement and deliver our advanced network security solutions directly to their client base”.

Common Security Awareness Training Mistakes to Avoid

Technology is vital for defending against cyberattacks, but it is important not to neglect employee training. Training the workforce on how to recognize and avoid threats should be a key part of your security strategy, but if you want to get the best return on your investment it is important to avoid these common security awareness training mistakes.

Why Security Awareness Training is Essential

Data from the ransomware remediation firm, Coveware, shows phishing is the main way that ransomware gangs gain initial access to business networks, and IBM reports that phishing is the main way that data breaches occur. In 2021, 40% of all data breaches started with a phishing email. Businesses should implement technologies to block these attacks, such as a spam filter, antivirus software, and a web filter; however, even with these defenses in place, threats will arrive in inboxes, they can be encountered over the Internet, or via instant messaging services, SMS, or over the phone. Unless you totally isolate your business from the outside world, employees will encounter threats.

It is therefore important to provide security awareness training to teach employees how to recognize and avoid threats and to educate them on cybersecurity best practices that they should always follow. Security awareness training is concerned with equipping employees with the skills they need to play their part in the overall security of the organization, to give them practice at detecting threats, and build confidence. Through training, you can create a human firewall to add an extra layer to your cybersecurity defenses.

Security Awareness Training Mistakes to Avoid

It is important to avoid these common security awareness training mistakes, as they can seriously reduce the effectiveness of your training.

Infrequent training

Creating a training course that covers all security best practices and threats to educate the workforce is important, but if you want to change employee behavior and get the best return on your investment, it is important to ensure that your training is effective. If you provide a once-a-year training session, after a few weeks the training may be forgotten. One of the most common mistakes with security awareness training is not providing training often enough. Training should be an ongoing process, provided regularly. You should therefore be providing training regularly in small chunks. A 10-minute training session once a month is much more likely to change behavior than a once-a-year training session.

Not making training fun and engaging

Cybersecurity is a serious subject, but that does not mean that training cannot be enjoyable. If your training course is dull and boring, your employees are likely to switch off, and if they are not paying attention, they will not take the training on board. Use a third-party security awareness training course that includes interactive, gamified, and fun content that will engage employees, and use a variety of training materials, as not everyone learns in the same way.

Using the same training course for all employees

Don’t develop a training course and give the same course to everyone. Use a modular training course that teaches the important aspects of security, but tailor it to user groups, departments, and roles. Training should be relevant. There is no point in training everyone how to recognize specific threats that they will never encounter.

Not conducting phishing simulations

Training and then testing is important to make sure that the training content has been understood, but that is unlikely to change employee behavior sufficiently. The best way to reinforce training and change employee behavior is by conducting phishing simulations. These simulations should be relevant, reflect real-world threats, and should be conducted regularly. Phishing simulations will show you how employees respond to threats when they are completing their work duties and are not in a training setting. If a phishing simulation is failed, it is a training opportunity. Provide targeted training to employees who fail, specific to the mistake they made.

Not providing training in real-time

Intervention training is the most effective. When an employee makes a security mistake, training should be automatically triggered, such as when an employee fails a phishing simulation or takes a security shortcut. If the employee is immediately notified of the error and is told where they went wrong, that will be much more effective at changing behavior than waiting until the next scheduled training session.

Speak with TitanHQ About Security Awareness Training

TitanHQ offers a security awareness training and phishing simulation platform for businesses – SafeTitan – that makes workforce training simple. The platform includes an extensive library of gamified, fun, and engaging content on all aspects of security to allow businesses to create customized training for all members of the workforce and automate phishing simulations.

The platform is easy to set up, use, and customize, and the platform is the only security awareness training solution that provides intervention training in real-time in response to employees’ security errors. For more information contact TitanHQ and take the first step toward creating a human firewall.

BEC Attacks on Businesses are Increasing: How To Improve Your Defenses Against These Damaging Attacks

Business Email Compromise (BEC), also known as Email Account Compromise (EAC), is one of the most financially damaging types of cyberattacks, and attacks have been increasing. These attacks involve gaining access to business email accounts, often the email account of the CEO or CFO, and using those accounts to send emails to staff that has responsibility for making payments and tricking them into wiring funds to an attacker-controlled account. The attacks can also be conducted to make changes to payroll information to get employees’ salaries deposited to attacker-controlled accounts.

BEC scams have resulted in losses in excess of $43 billion over the past 5 years according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and that is just complaints submitted to its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). In 2021 alone, almost $2.4 billion in losses to BEC attacks were reported to IC3.

Anatomy of a BEC Attack

BEC attacks require considerable effort by threat actors, but the rewards from a successful attack are high. BEC attacks often see fraudulent transfers made for hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases several million. Companies are researched, individuals to target are identified, and attempts are made to compromise their accounts. Accounts can be compromised through phishing or brute force attempts to guess weak passwords.

With access to the right email accounts, the attacker can study the emails in the account. The usual communication channels can be identified along with the style of emails that are usually sent. The attacker will identify contracts that are about to be renewed, invoices that will soon be due, and other regular payments to try to divert. Timely and convincing emails can then be sent to divert payments and give the attacker sufficient time to move the funds before the scam is uncovered.

A recent report from Accenture suggests the rise in ransomware attacks is helping to fuel the rise in BEC attacks. Ransomware gangs steal data before encrypting files and publish the data on their data leak sites. The stolen data can be used to identify businesses and employees that can be targeted, and often includes contract information, invoices, and other documents that can cut down on the time spent researching targets and identifying payments to divert. Some ransomware gangs are offering indexed, searchable data, which makes life even easier for BEC scammers.

How to Improve Your Defenses Against BEC Attacks

Defending against BEC attacks can be a challenge for businesses. Once an email account has been compromised, the emails sent from the account to the finance department to make wire transfers can be difficult to distinguish from genuine communications.

Use an Email Security Solution with Outbound Scanning

An email security solution such as SpamTitan can help in this regard, as all outbound emails are scanned in addition to inbound emails. However, the key to blocking attacks is to prevent the email accounts from being compromised in the first place, which is where SpamTitan will really help. SpamTitan protects against phishing emails using multiple layers of protection. Known malicious email accounts and IP addresses are blocked, other checks are performed on message headers looking for the signs of phishing, and the content of the emails is checked, including attachments and embedded hyperlinks. Emails are checked using heuristics and Bayesian analysis to identify irregularities, and machine learning helps to identify messages that deviate from the normal emails received by a business.

Implement Robust Password Policies and MFA

Unfortunately, it is not only phishing that is used to compromise email accounts. Brute force tactics are used to guess weak passwords or credentials stuffing attacks are performed to guess passwords that have been used to secure users’ other accounts. To block this attack vector, businesses need to implement robust password policies and enforce the use of strong passwords. Remembering complex passwords is difficult for employees, so a password manager solution should be used so they don’t need to. Password managers suggest complex, unique passwords, and store them securely in a vault. They autofill the passwords when they are needed so employees don’t need to remember them. If email account credentials are compromised, they can be used to remotely access accounts. Multifactor authentication can stop this, as in addition to a password, another form of authentication must be provided.

Provide Security Awareness Training to the Workforce

Providing security awareness training to the workforce is a must. Employees need to be taught how to recognize phishing emails and should be trained on cybersecurity best practices. If employees are unaware of the threats they are likely to encounter, when the threats land in their inboxes or are encountered on the web, they may not be able to recognize them as malicious. Training should be tailored for different users, and training on BEC attacks should be provided to the individuals who are likely to be targeted: the board, finance department, payroll, etc.

Security awareness should be accompanied by phishing simulations – fake, but realistic, phishing emails sent to the workforce to test how they respond. BEC attacks can be simulated to see whether the scams can be recognized. If a simulation is failed it can be turned into a training opportunity. These campaigns can be created, and automated, with the SafeTitan Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulation Platform.

Set Up Communication Channels for Verifying Transfer Requests

Employees responsible for making wire transfers or changing payroll information should have a communication channel they can use to verify transfers and bank account changes. Providing them with a list of verified phone numbers will allow them to make a quick call to verify changes. A quick phone call to verify a request can be the difference between an avoided scam and a major financial loss.

Speak to TitanHQ about Improving Your Defenses Against BEC Attacks

TitanHQ offers a range of cybersecurity solutions for blocking email and web-based cyber threats. For more information on SpamTitan Email Security, WebTitan Web Filtering, and SafeTitan Security Awareness Training, give the TitanHQ team a call. All solutions are quick and easy to set up and use, and all have been developed to make it easy for MSPs to offer these cybersecurity solutions to their clients. With TitanHQ solutions in place, you will be well protected from phishing, malware, ransomware, botnets, social engineering, and BEC attacks.

Twilio SMS Phishing Attack Highlights Importance of Security Awareness Training on all Forms of Phishing

Phishing is mostly conducted via email; however, a recent data breach at the cloud communication company Twilio demonstrates that phishing can be highly effective when conducted using other popular communication methods, such as SMS messages.

An SMS phishing attack – known as SMiShing – involves sending SMS messages with a link to a malicious website with some kind of lure to get people to click. Once a click occurs, the scam progresses as an email phishing attack does, with the user being prompted to disclose their credentials on a website that is usually a spoofed site to make it appear genuine. The credentials are then captured and used by the attacker to remotely access the victims’ accounts.

Twillio provides programmable voice, text, chat, video, and email APIs, which are used by more than 10 million developers and 150,000 businesses to create customer engagement platforms. In this smishing attack, Twilio employees were sent SMS messages that appeared to have been sent by the Twilio IT department that directed them to a cloned website that had the Twilio sign-in page. Due to the small screen size on mobile devices, the full URL is not displayed, but certain keywords are added to the URLs that will be displayed to add realism to the scam. The URLs in this campaign included keywords such as SSO, Okta, and Twilio.

According to Twilio EMEA Communications director, Katherine James, the company detected suspicious account activity on August 4, 2022, and the investigation confirmed that several employee accounts had been accessed by unauthorized individuals following responses to the SMS messages. The attackers were able to access certain customer data through the Twilio accounts, although James declined to say how many employees were tricked by the scam and how many customers had been affected.

Twilio was transparent about the data breach and shared the text of one of the phishing emails, which read:

Notice! [redacted] login has expired. Please tap twilio-sso-com to update your password!

The text messages were sent from U.S. carrier networks. Twilio contacted those companies and the hosting providers to shut down the operation and take down the malicious URLs. Twilio said they were not the only company to be targeted in this SMS phishing campaign, and the company worked in conjunction with those other companies to try to shut the operation down; however, as is common in these campaigns, the threat actors simply switch mobile carriers and hosting providers to continue their attacks.

The smishing attack and data breach should serve as a reminder to all businesses of the risk of smishing. Blocking these types of phishing attacks can be a challenge for businesses. The best starting point for improving your defenses is to provide security awareness training for the workforce. Security awareness training for employees usually has a strong emphasis on email phishing, since this type of phishing is far more common, but it is important to also ensure that employees are trained on how to recognize phishing in all its forms, including smishing, social media phishing, and voice phishing – vishing – which takes place over the telephone.

The easiest way to do this is to work with a security vendor such as TitanHQ. TitanHQ offers a comprehensive security awareness training platform – SafeTitan – with an extensive range of training content on all aspects of security, including smishing and voice phishing. The training content is engaging, interactive, and effective at improving cybersecurity understanding, and SafeTitan is the only security awareness training platform that delivers training in real-time in response to the behavior of employees. The platform also includes a phishing simulator for automating simulated phishing tests on employees.

For more information about improving security awareness in your organization, contact TitanHQ today.

Cybersecurity Companies Impersonated in Convincing Callback Phishing Campaign

A new phishing campaign is being conducted that abuses trust in cybersecurity companies. The campaign uses scare tactics to get company employers to pick up the phone and speak to the cybersecurity vendor about a recently detected data breach and potential workstation compromise.

It is becoming increasingly common for phishing scams to involve initial contact via email with requests to make a call. This tactic is often used in tech support scams, where victims are convinced they have a malware infection or another serious security issue on their device, and they are tricked into downloading malicious software such as Remote Access Trojans (RATs).

RATs give the attackers access to the user’s computer, and that access can be abused by the attacker or the access can be sold to other threat groups such as ransomware gangs. Affiliates of ransomware-as-a-service operations may use this technique to conduct attacks and are then paid a percentage of any ransom payments they generate.

In this campaign, the impersonated companies are very well-known providers of enterprise security solutions, such as CrowdStrike, and the emails are very well written and convincing. They claim that a data breach has been detected that affected the part of the cybersecurity provider’s network associated with the customer’s workstation and warns that all workstations on the network may have been compromised. As such, the cybersecurity company is conducting an audit.

The emails claim that the cybersecurity vendor has reached out to the IT department, which has instructed the vendor to contain individual users directly. The emails claim that the audit is necessary for compliance with the Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) and other regulations and that the agreement between the targeted individual’s company and the cybersecurity vendor allows it to conduct regular audits and security checks. A phone number is provided for the individual to make contact, and the email includes the correct corporate logo and genuine address of the cybersecurity vendor.

CrowdStrike reports that a similar scam has been conducted by the Wizard Spider threat group, which was responsible for Ryuk ransomware attacks. That campaign delivered BazarLoader malware, which was used to deliver the ransomware payload.

This type of phishing attempt is known as callback phishing. This technique can be effective at bypassing email security solutions since the emails contain no malicious content – There are no hyperlinks and no file attachments. This scam highlights the importance of conducting security awareness training on the workforce to help employees identify and avoid phishing scams.

How TitanHQ Can Help

TitanHQ provides a range of security solutions for blocking phishing attacks, including SpamTitan Email Security, WebTitan DNS Filtering, and the SafeTitan Security Awareness and Phishing Simulation Platform.

SafeTitan has an extensive library of interactive, gamified, and engaging training content for improving security awareness of the workforce, including phishing and the full range of cyberattacks that employees are likely to encounter. The training is delivered in easily assimilated modules of no more than 8 to 10 minutes, and training can be delivered in real-time in response to risky user behaviors to nip bad security practices in the bud. The platform also includes hundreds of phishing templates for conducting and automating phishing simulations on the workforce, to gain insights into the individuals who are susceptible to phishing attacks and any knowledge gaps.

For more information on improving your defenses against phishing attacks, review our solutions in the links at the top of this page or give the team a call. Products are available on a free trial and demonstrations can be arranged on request.

Social Media Phishing Attacks are on the Rise

Phishing can take many forms and while email is the most common vector used in these scams, other types of phishing such as voice phishing (vishing), SMS phishing (Smishing), and social media phishing increasing. In particular, there has been a recent spike in social media phishing attempts.

The threat from email phishing can be greatly reduced with an email security solution; however, these solutions will do nothing to block vishing, smishing, and social media phishing attempts. Businesses can improve their defenses by also using a DNS filtering solution. DNS filters block attempts to visit malicious websites and work in tandem with email security solutions to block email phishing and can also block the web-based component of smishing attacks and social media phishing to a certain extent. Unfortunately, since the social media networks where phishing takes place are not malicious websites, it will not prevent people from encountering phishing attempts.

This is why security awareness training is so important. Security awareness training gives employees the skills they need to recognize and avoid phishing attempts, no matter where the phishing attack is conducted. By training the workforce on security threats, risky behaviors can be eradicated, and employees can be taught the signs of phishing to look out for. The SafeTitan Security Awareness Training platform also delivers training in real-time, in response to risky behaviors by employees. This ensures training is delivered instantly when risky behavior is detected and training is likely to have the greatest benefit.

Social Media Phishing

Two social media phishing campaigns have recently been identified by researchers at Malwarebytes, the goal of which is to obtain the credentials for social media accounts. If the credentials are disclosed, the attacker can access the victim’s account and use it to conduct further attacks on the victim’s followers. If the credentials for a corporate social media account are stolen, attacks could be conducted on all the company’s followers. These attacks abuse the trust customers have in the company. The two campaigns have been conducted on Twitter and Discord users. Both use social engineering to trick people into disclosing their account credentials.

Twitter Phishing Campaign

In the Twitter campaign, the scammer sends a direct message to the user informing them that their account has been flagged for hate speech and threatens an immediate suspension of the account unless action is taken. The user is told that they must authenticate the account via the Twitter Help Center, a link for which is provided in the message. The link directs the user to a phishing page that spoofs Twitter where they are asked to log in. If they do, their credentials will be captured.

Discord Phishing Campaign

The Discord campaign sees a message sent from either a contact of the victim using a compromised Discord account or from strangers. The account owner is accused of disseminating explicit photographs and the sender says they are going to block the account until an explanation is provided. A link is provided to a server where the recipient has allegedly been named and shamed. If the message recipient tries to respond to the message, their message will not be sent as they will have been blocked, increasing the likelihood of their clicking the link to the server.

Victims are required to log in via a QR code and once they have attempted that they are locked out of their accounts, which are then under the full control of the scammer. The scammer is then free to use the legitimate account to continue their scam on all the victims’ contacts. Social media scams such as these try to scare or shame users into responding. This tactic can be very effective, even if the user has never said a bad word on Twitter or sent an explicit photograph to anyone on Discord.

Other Social Media Phishing Campaigns

Phishing can – and does – occur on all social media platforms. One scam that has proven successful targets Instagram users and offers them the verified Instagram badge. In order to receive the badge, they are required to log in to verify their identity, naturally via a malicious link. Doing so will allow the scammer to take full control of the user’s Instagram account.

It is a similar story on LinkedIn. One of the most common scams involves impersonating a company and sending a message to an individual about a job offer, or a message suggesting they have been headhunted. Fake connection requests are also common. In this scam, the user is provided with a link to a scam site that spoofs LinkedIn and again is conducted to harvest credentials.

On Facebook, phishing scams are rife but often they seem innocuous. If you use Facebook, you will no doubt have seen countless posts asking site users to determine their band name, porn star name, pirate name, etc., by providing information such as the month and year of birth.  Posts asking what was your first car? Where did you grow up? What was your favorite teacher’s name? and many more do not seek credentials, but the information disclosed can be used to answer security questions that are asked in order to recover accounts. These scams also make brute force attacks to guess passwords so much easier.

Dangers of Social Media Phishing

The loss of access to a social media account may not be the end of the world and is likely far better than having a bank account emptied, but the damage caused can be considerable. Many small businesses rely on social media for publicity and generating sales, and the loss of an account or scamming of customers can be devastating. The passwords used for social media accounts are often reused across multiple platforms. Scammers often conduct credential stuffing attacks on other platforms and accounts using the same password. Fall victim to a social media phishing scam and many other accounts could be compromised.

Blocking social media phishing attacks can be a challenge. You should also ensure that two-factor authentication is enabled on social media accounts, consider restricting who can send direct messages to your account, and who can view your profiles. If you encounter a scam, be sure to report it.

For businesses, employees with access to corporate social media accounts should be given specific training on social media phishing to ensure they can recognize and avoid phishing scams. The SafeTitan Security Awareness Training platform makes this simple and helps businesses instantly correct risky behaviors through the automated delivery of a relevant training course in real-time. The platform has a wealth of engaging, gamified training content and a phishing simulation platform for testing resilience to phishing attacks.

For more information on SafeTitan and improving your phishing defenses through the use of an email security solution and DNS filtering, give the TitanHQ team a call today.

Copyright Infringement Notices used in Phishing Emails for Delivering Lockbit 2.0 Ransomware

Cybercriminals are constantly changing tactics and lures in their phishing campaigns, so it is no surprise to see a new technique being used by affiliates of the Lockbit ransomware-as-a-service operation. A campaign has been identified by researchers at AhnLab in Korea that attempts to deliver a malware loader named Bumblebee, which in turn is used to deliver the LockBit 2.0 ransomware payload.

Various lures are used in phishing campaigns for delivering malware loaders, with this campaign using a warning about a copyright violation due to the unauthorized use of images on the company’s website. As is common in phishing emails, the emails contain a threat should no action be taken – legal action. Emails that deliver malware loaders either use attached files or contain links to files hosted online. The problem with attaching files to emails is they can be detected by email security solutions. To get around this, links are often included. In this case, the campaign uses the latter, and to further evade detection, the linked file is a password-protected archive. This is a common trick used in malware delivery via email to prevent the file from being detected as malicious by security solutions, which are unable to open the file and examine the contents. The recipient of the message is provided with the password to open the file in the message body.

The password-protected zip file contains a file that masquerades as a PDF file, which the user is required to open to obtain further information about the copyright violation. However, a double file extension is used, and the attached file is actually an executable file, which will deliver the Bumblebee loader, and thereafter, LockBit 2.0 ransomware.

These types of phishing attacks are all too common. Believable lures are used to trick people into taking the requested action, a threat is included should no action be taken, and multiple measures are used to evade security solutions. Any warning about a copyright violation must be taken seriously but as with most phishing emails, there are red flags in this email that suggest this is a scam. Security-aware employees should be able to recognize the red flags and while they may not be able to confirm the malicious nature of the email, they should report such messages to their IT department or security team for further investigation. However, in order to be able to identify those red flags, employees should be provided with security awareness training.

Through regular training employees will learn the signs of phishing emails, can be conditioned to always report the emails to their security team, and can be kept abreast of the latest tactics used in phishing emails for malware delivery. It is also recommended to conduct phishing simulations to test whether employees are being fooled by phishing attempts. If employees fail phishing simulations it could indicate issues with the training course that need to be addressed, or that certain employees need to be provided with additional training. Through regular security awareness training and phishing simulations, businesses can create a human firewall capable of detecting phishing attempts that bypass the organization’s email and web security defenses.

TitanHQ can provide assistance in this regard through the SafeTitan Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulation Platform – Further information on the solution can be found here.

How to Run Effective Phishing Simulations in the Workplace

If you want to create a culture of security in your organization, you need to provide comprehensive security awareness training to teach employees the skills they will need to be able to identify and avoid cyber threats. It is also important to conduct phishing simulations on all members of the workforce.

Phishing simulations are realistic but fake phishing emails that are sent to employees to determine the level of security awareness of the organization, assess whether employee security awareness training has been effective, identify any gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed, and to identify any individuals who require further training.

If phishing simulations are not used, organizations will be unaware whether their training has worked and has reduced the susceptibility of the workforce to phishing attacks, and gaps in knowledge could exist that could easily be exploited in real world phishing attacks.

Sending phishing emails to employees to see if they click links or open potentially malicious attachments is important, but to get the full benefits of phishing simulation exercises you need to create a structured phishing simulation program. To help you get started we have provided some tips on how to run effective phishing simulations in the workplace, and highlight some areas where businesses go wrong.

How to Run Effective Phishing Simulations at Work

One of most common assumptions made about phishing simulations is that in order to determine whether employees will respond to genuine phishing emails, employees should not be aware that you will be conducting phishing simulations. That is a mistake. When employers conduct phishing simulations on an unsuspecting workforce, it has the potential to backfire.

Employees often feel like they are being targeted and it can create friction between employees and the IT department, and that is best avoided. You should warn employees when you provide training that part of the training process will involve phishing simulations and that the simulations are not being conducted to catch employees out but to assess how effective training has been. Do not provide specific notice when you are conducting campaigns, just make the workforce aware that you do periodically run phishing simulations.

When you conduct phishing simulations, the emails you send need to be realistic. You should use templates that are based on real-world phishing attacks, after all, the aim of the simulations is to determine if employees will fall for real phishing emails.  You should use a variety of lures and send different types of phishing emails, including emails with links, attachments, and Word documents with macros. You should also vary the difficulty of the simulations and include targeted spear-phishing attacks.

Before sending simulated phishing emails to the workforce, test out the emails in small numbers, as this will allow you to correct any problems. Do not send the same email to everyone at the same time, as this often results in employees tipping each other off and will not give you accurate data. Vary the emails you send in any one campaign, and this can be avoided. Each email should include at least two red flags that will allow it to be identified as a phishing attempt. Be careful about the lures you choose. If you send an email offering a pay rise – there are genuine phishing campaigns that do this – be prepared for a backlash, as such a campaign is likely to cause upset. These types of phishing simulations are best avoided.

The first phishing campaigns you send should serve as a baseline against which you can measure how awareness improves over time, so use a moderately difficult phishing attempt, not an incredibly difficult spear phishing email. Anyone can be fooled by a phishing email so ensure that everyone is part of the program, including board members. They too need to be taught how to recognize phishing emails and be tested to see how security aware they are. The C-suite is the top target for phishers.

It is important not to name and shame employees that fail phishing simulations. A failed phishing simulation should be seen as an opportunity for further training, not a reason for punishing an employee. If you opt for positive rather than negative reinforcement, you are likely to get much better results.

Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulations from TitanHQ

SafeTitan from TitanHQ is a comprehensive security awareness training platform with an extensive library of training courses, videos & quizzes. The content is highly interactive and fun, with short and efficient testing and a phishing simulation platform with hundreds of real-world phishing templates to use. SafeTitan is also the only behavior-driven security awareness solution that delivers security training in real-time. Phishing simulations have shown that SafeTitan reduces staff susceptibility to phishing by up to 92%.

For more information and to arrange a product demonstration, give the TitanHQ team a call.

Webinar: June 7, 2022: Employee Cyber Risks in a Growing Organization: Balancing Safety and Agility

On June 7, TitanHQ, in partnership with the Oxford Cyber Academy, will be hosting a webinar to discuss employee cyber risks in growing organizations, and how to balance safety and agility.

Organizations are facing an increasing number of threats when trying to stay agile, competitive, and innovative in a digital world, and for small- and medium-sized businesses, those threats have significant potential to threaten growth. Businesses of all sizes are being targeted by cyber threat actors, and successful attacks can cause significant damage to a business’s hard-won market reputation and operations. Those threat actors target a common weak point in security defenses – employees. Digital security needs to be front and center of your continued innovation, but it can be a challenge to stay competitive whilst sustaining a cyber-savvy workforce. Help is at hand, however.

During this webinar, attendees will be provided with valuable information on the changing nature of the cyber threats facing small- and mid-sized businesses and will discover what they need to protect, what they have to lose if they fail to protect it, how to balance technology and human cyber risks, and how to improve employee security awareness and achieve measurable changes in employee behavior through easy, intuitive, personalized and targeted training that is delivered where it’s needed the most.

Join TitanHQ on June 7th where Nick Wilding, Neil Sinclair, Cyber Programme Lead, UK Police Crime Prevention Initiatives, and Richard Knowlton, Director of Security Studies at the Oxford Cyber Academy will discuss:

If you can’t make the event, register anyway and you will receive the webinar to watch on-demand at any time.

Register for the Webinar Today

How Phishing Emails Led to The Theft of $23.5 Million from the U.S. Department of Defense

Phishing is commonly used to gain access to credentials to hijack email accounts for use in business email compromise (BEC) attacks. Once credentials have been obtained, the email account can be used to send phishing emails internally, with a view to obtaining the credentials of the main target. Alternatively, by spear phishing the target account, those steps can be eliminated.

If the credentials are obtained for the CEO or CFO, emails can be crafted and sent to individuals responsible for wire transfers, requesting payments be made to an attacker-controlled account. A common alternative is to target vendors, in an attack referred to as vendor email compromise (VEC). Once access is gained to a vendor’s account, the information contained in the email accounts provides detailed information on customers that can be targeted.

When a payment is due to be made, the vendor’s email account is used to request a change to the account for the upcoming payment. When the payment is made to the attacker-controlled account, it usually takes a few days before the non-payment is identified by the vendor, by which time it may be too late to recover the fraudulently transferred funds. While BEC and VEC attacks are nowhere near as common as phishing attacks, they are the leading cause of losses to cybercrime due to the large amounts of money obtained through fraudulent wire transfers. One attack in 2018 resulted in the theft of $23.5 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense.

In this case, two individuals involved in the scam were identified, including a Californian man who has just pleaded guilty to six counts related to the attack. He now faces up to 107 years in jail for the scam, although these scams are commonly conducted by threat actors in overseas countries, and the perpetrators often escape justice. The scam was conducted like many others. The BEC gang targeted DoD vendors between June 2018 and September 2018 and used phishing emails to obtain credentials for email accounts. An employee at a DoD vendor that had a contract to supply Aviation JA1 Turbine fuel to troops in southeast Asia for the DoD received an email that spoofed the U.S. government and included a hyperlink to a malicious website that had been created to support the scam.

The website used for the scam had the domain dia-mil.com, which mimicked the official dla.mil website, and email accounts were set up on that domain to closely resemble official email accounts. The phishing emails directed the employee to a cloned version of the government website, login.gov, which harvested the employee’s credentials. The credentials allowed the scammer to change bank account information in the SAM (System for Award Management) database to the account credentials of the shell company set up for the scam. When the payment of $23,453,350 for the jet fuel was made, it went to the scammers rather than the vendor.

Security systems were in place to identify fraudulent changes to bank account information, but despite those measures, the payment was made. The SAM database is scanned every 24 hours and any bank account changes are flagged and checked. The scammers learned of this and made calls to the Defense Logistics Agency and provided a reason why the change was made and succeeded in getting the change manually approved, although flags were still raised as the payment was made to a company that was not an official government contractor. That allowed the transfer to be reverted. Many similar scams are not detected in time and the recovery of funds is not possible. By the time the scam is identified, the scammers’ account has been emptied or closed.

The key to preventing BEC and VEC attacks is to deal with the issue at its source to prevent phishing emails from reaching inboxes and teach employees how to identify and avoid phishing scams. TitanHQ can help in both areas through SpamTitan Email Security and the SafeTitan security awareness training and phishing simulation platform. Businesses should also implement multifactor authentication to stop stolen credentials from being used to access accounts.

Tips for Effective Security Awareness Training

Providing security awareness training to the workforce is necessary for compliance and is often a requirement for getting cybersecurity insurance, but the real purpose of security awareness training is to reduce risk and avoid costly cyberattacks and data breaches.

To get the full benefits you need an effective security awareness training program, where susceptibility to phishing attacks is reduced and your resilience to cyberattacks targeting employees is significantly improved. To help you, we offer some top tips for creating an effective security awareness training program.

Security Awareness Training Must be a Continuous Process

Security awareness training should not be seen as a checkbox item for compliance. To be effective, training needs to be an ongoing process, where the training is reinforced over time. That if unlikely to happen with a once-a-year training session. Another reason for providing ongoing training is cyber threat actors are constantly changing their tactics and regularly come up with new scams. It would be unreasonable to expect employees to be able to recognize these new threats if they have not been covered in training sessions. Through regular training, provided in bite-sized chunks, you can make your employees are made aware of the latest threats which will help them to recognize them when they are encountered.

Make Sure Your Training Content is Interesting

Different employees will respond to different training methods. A classroom-based training session may be good for some employees, but others will respond better to computer-based training, infographics, videos, and quizzes. Keep your training varied to make sure it appeals to a wide audience and try to make the training interesting and engaging to improve knowledge retention, such as using storytelling to trigger emotions and the imagination, and don’t be afraid to use humor. Cybersecurity can be a pretty dry topic for many people and if they can enjoy it, they are more likely to retain the information and apply the training on a day-to-day basis.

Get Buy-in from the C-Suite

If you want to create a security culture in your organization, you will need to get buy in from the C-suite.  Any change in culture in an organization needs to start at the top. The C-Suite must be made aware of the importance of security awareness training and cybersecurity, and using data is usually the best approach. Using a security awareness training company that can provide data on the effectiveness of training at reducing risk will help. You will be able to prove the return on investment you are likely to achieve.

Conduct Phishing Simulations After Providing Training

Providing security awareness training is only one step toward developing a security culture and reducing risk. You also need to conduct tests to determine whether your training is being applied on a day-to-day basis, and the best way to test that is with phishing simulations. Conduct realistic simulations to determine whether the training has been effective. If employees fail simulations, provide extra training.

Do Not Punish Employees for Failing Phishing Simulations

Many companies operate a three strikes and you’re out policy for failing phishing simulations or penalize employees in other ways for falling for phishing emails. Around 40% of organizations take disciplinary action against employees for cybersecurity errors such as phishing simulation failures. Punishing employees for failing to identify phishing simulations often does not have the desired effect.

If you want to encourage employees to be more security-aware and create a security culture, creating a culture of fear is unlikely to help. This approach is likely to cause stress and anxiety, which can lead to the creation of a hostile working environment, and that does not help employees become more security aware. Further, when mistakes are made, employees will be much less likely to report their mistakes to the security team out of fear of negative consequences.

Conduct Real-Time Security Awareness Training

Training is likely to be most effective immediately after employees have made a mistake. By using a security awareness training solution such as SafeTitan, the only behavior-driven security training solution that delivers contextual training in real-time, you can deliver relevant training immediately and explain how a mistake was made and how similar errors can be avoided in the future. For instance, if an employee is discovered to be downloading free software from the Internet, an immediate alert can be delivered explaining why it is not allowed and the risks of installing software without approval from the IT department. If a phishing simulation is failed, employees can be alerted immediately, and it can be turned into a relevant training session.

Benchmark to Learn the Effectiveness of Security Awareness Training

Businesses conduct security awareness training to reduce susceptibility to phishing attacks and other cyber threats, but to gauge the effectiveness of the training there must be a benchmark to measure against. Conducting phishing simulations prior to providing training will allow you to measure how effective the training has been. You can use pre-training simulations to determine how many employees are falling for scams and the percentage of simulated phishing emails that are being reported. You can then reassess after providing training and can determine exactly how effective the training has been.

Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulations are Not Enough

Providing regular security awareness training and conducting phishing simulations are important for improving resilience to cyber threats and will allow you to prove training has been provided for compliance or insurance purposes, but you also need to make sure that training has been absorbed by employees. Don’t just provide training – use quizzes to assess whether the training has been absorbed. You should also analyze the results of phishing simulations to identify any knowledge gaps that need to be addressed with future training courses. If employees are still falling for a certain type of scam, it could be your training that is the issue.

For more information about security awareness training, conducting phishing simulations, and to discover the benefits of real-time security awareness training, contact TitanHQ today for more information about SafeTitan. You can also take advantage of a free trial of the solution before deciding on a purchase.

 

Have You Created a Human Firewall?

It is important for security to implement an advanced spam filtering solution to block email threats such as phishing and malware, but security awareness training for the workforce is still necessary. The reason why phishing attacks are successful is that they target a weak point: employees. Humans make mistakes and are one of the biggest vulnerabilities as far as security is concerned. All it takes is for one phishing email to sneak through your defenses and land in an inbox and for the recipient to click a link in the email or open a malicious attachment for a threat actor to get the foothold they need in your network.

The easiest way to target employees is with phishing emails. The majority of phishing emails will be blocked by your spam filter, but some emails will be delivered. It doesn’t matter how advanced and effective your spam filter is, it will not block every single phishing email without also blocking an unacceptable number of genuine emails.

Phishing emails are used to achieve one of three aims: To trick individuals into disclosing credentials, to trick them into emailing sensitive data, or to trick them into installing malware. There are many tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) employed in phishing attacks to make the emails realistic, convincing, and to get employees to act quickly. The emails may closely match standard business emails related to deliveries, job applications, invoices, or requests for collaboration. Spoofing is used to make the messages appear to have come from a trusted sender. Emails can spoof brands and often include the correct corporate logos, formats, and color schemes. While phishing emails include red flags that indicate all is not what it seems, busy employees may not notice those flags. Further, sophisticated, targeted phishing attacks contain very few red flags and are very difficult to identify. Even system administrators can be fooled by these attacks.

Businesses cannot expect every employee to be an expert at identifying phishing emails and other email threats, nor should they assume that employees have a good understanding of security practices that need to be employed. The only way to ensure employees know about security practices and how to recognize a phishing email is to provide security awareness training.

Security Awareness Training Improves Resilience to Phishing Attacks

The purpose of security awareness training is to make the workforce aware of the threats they are likely to encounter and to provide them with the tools they need to recognize and avoid those threats. Security awareness training is not a checkbox item that needs to be completed for compliance, it is one of the most important steps to take to improve your organization’s security posture and it needs to be an ongoing process. You could provide a classroom-based training session or computer-based training session once a year, but the TTPs of cyber threat actors are constantly changing, so that is not going to be sufficient. More frequent training, coupled with security reminders, newsletters, and updates on the latest threats to be wary of will ensure that security is always fresh in the mind, and it will help you to develop a security culture in your organization.

One of the most effective strategies is to augment training with phishing simulations. Phishing simulations involve sending fake but realistic phishing emails to employees to see how they respond. If you do not conduct these tests, you will not know if your training has been effective. The simulations will identify employees that require further training and the simulations will give employees practice at recognizing malicious emails. Reports from these simulations allow security teams to assess how resilient they are to phishing attacks and other email threats and will allow them to take action and focus their efforts to make immediate improvements.

SafeTitan Security Awareness Training & Phishing Simulations

TitanHQ can now help businesses create a human firewall through SafeTitan Security Awareness Training. SafeTitan is the only behavior-driven security awareness platform that delivers training in real-time and will greatly improve resilience to social engineering and advanced phishing attacks.

If you want to improve your resilience to cyberattacks, prevent more data breaches, and avoid the costs and reputation damage caused by those incidents, you need to be training your workforce and running phishing simulations. Get in touch with TitanHQ today for more information and get started creating your human firewall.

TitanHQ Completes Acquisition of Cyber Risk Aware

TitanHQ, the leading cybersecurity SaaS business, today announced its acquisition of Cyber Risk Aware. Established in 2016, Cyber Risk Aware is a global leader in security awareness and mitigation of human cyber risk, providing assistance to companies to train the workforce on how to protect the company network.

Cyber Risk Aware delivers real-time cyber security awareness training to staff in response to actual staff network behavior. This intuitive and real-time security awareness training reduces the likelihood users will be impacted by the latest threats such as ransomware, BEC attacks, and data breaches, whilst also enabling organizations to meet compliance obligations. Leading global businesses that trust Cyber Risk Aware include Standard Charter, Glen Dimplex, and Invesco.

The acquisition will further bolster TitanHQ’s already extensive cybersecurity offering. The combination of intelligent security awareness training with phishing simulations and TitanHQ’s advanced email protection and DNS security solutions creates a powerful, multi-layered cybersecurity platform that secures end users from compromise. This is the go-to cybersecurity platform for IT Managed Service Providers and internal IT teams.

“This is a fantastic addition to the TitanHQ team and solution portfolio. It allows us to add a human protection layer to our MSP Security platform, with a fantastic feature-rich solution as demonstrated by the high caliber customers using it. Stephen and his team have built a great company over the years, and we are delighted to have them join the exciting TitanHQ journey.” said TitanHQ CEO Ronan Kavanagh.

The solution is available to both new and existing customers and MSP partners at TitanHQ.com and has been re-branded as SafeTitan, Security Awareness Training. Cyber Risk Aware existing clients are unaffected and will benefit from improvements in the platform in terms of phishing simulation content and an exciting, innovative product roadmap.

Stephen Burke, CEO of Cyber Risk Aware, commented: “I am incredibly proud that Cyber Risk Aware has been acquired by TitanHQ, cybersecurity business that I have greatly admired for a long time. Today’s announcement is fantastic news for both our clients and partners. We will jointly bring together a platform of innovative security solutions that address the #1 threat vector used by bad actors that cause 99% of security breaches, “End User Compromise”. When I first started Cyber Risk Aware, my aim was to be the global security awareness leader in delivering the right message, to the right user at the right time. Now as part of TitanHQ, I am more excited than ever about the unique value proposition we bring to market”.

For more information on TitanHQ’s new Security Awareness Solution, visit www.TitanHQ.com/SafeTitan