If you want to improve your organization’s security posture, you can invest in more advanced technical anti-phishing solutions, but one of the quickest and biggest wins is providing phishing training for employees. In this post, we provide best practices for phishing training for employees, highlight the key elements of an effective phishing training program, and share some of the bad security practices that you should try to avoid.
Why is Phishing Training for Employees So Important?
Security awareness training should be provided to the workforce to teach security best practices and explain the importance of practicing good cyber hygiene. A significant amount of the training course should be devoted to phishing training for employees as phishing is the most common method used by cybercriminals in cyberattacks on businesses.
According to CISCO, 90% of data breaches involved phishing in 2021, and the Anti Phishing Working Group reports that phishing attacks doubled in 2020 and have continued to be conducted at increased levels, with more than 90,000 phishing campaigns now detected each month. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Report for 2021 shows phishing is the most common cause of cybercrime by victim count, with almost four times the number of victims as the next main cause of complaint.
Being able to recognize phishing emails is a skill that should be learned by everyone with an email account. Having a good understanding of how phishing attacks are conducted, why they fool people, and the common signs of phishing will help everyone avoid falling victim to one of these social engineering scams. For businesses, investing in phishing awareness training for employees will give a good return on investment by preventing phishing attacks, which Proofpoint reports cost businesses $14.8 million in 2021 on average. For reference, in 2015 the average cost of remediating phishing attacks was $3.8 million annually.
What Can Employee Phishing Training Achieve?
It is important to have realistic objectives. The aim of training employees on how to recognize a phishing email is not to have every employee identify and avoid every phishing email. Phishing training for employees is about minimizing, not eradicating risk. The goal should be to improve security awareness over time, make sure that every employee is performing basic checks of inbound emails, and condition employees to report suspicious emails to the security team. Through regular security awareness and phishing training for employees, susceptibility to phishing can be greatly reduced.
You should be teaching employees the common signs of a phishing email to look out for, what to do if such a threat is encountered, and explain the mistakes employees often make, and how those mistakes allow cyber threat actors to succeed in their attacks. You should tell the workforce that every individual has a role to play in the cybersecurity of the organization and that protecting against phishing attacks is a shared responsibility. The IT department will have implemented technical defenses against phishing attacks, but a careless click is all it takes for those defenses to be bypassed and the network to be compromised.
Conduct Phishing Simulations
After providing training, use quizzes to assess whether the training has been understood, then conduct phishing simulations on the workforce to see how effective the training is proving to be when employees go about their normal daily work schedules. Phishing simulations allow organizations to assess how overall security awareness is improving over time. Phishing simulations will also highlight gaps in knowledge. If 50% of employees click a simulated phishing email, that specific type of threat needs to be covered in more detail in the training program. Some employees will perform poorly at identifying phishing emails, and those individuals can be identified and provided with additional training. Without phishing simulations, organizations will be flying blind as they will not know if their training has improved security awareness.
Best Practices for Phishing Training for Employees
Listed below are some of the best practices for phishing training for employees and some bad security practices to avoid, which will help you to get the best ROI from your employee phishing training.
- Training should be an ongoing process and the training program should be structured – Develop a training program that includes comprehensive annual training, shorter half-yearly refresher training, and quarterly training modules, and test employees at arbitrary intervals.
- Give employees practice at identifying phishing emails – Develop a structured phishing simulation program that gives employees experience at identifying phishing emails and reporting them to the security team.
- Tell employees phishing simulations will be conducted – Don’t blindside employees as doing so makes it feel like you are trying to catch them out.
- Give employees immediate feedback if they fail a phishing test – Providing immediate feedback and additional training has been shown to help eradicate risky behaviors quickly.
- Don’t punish employees for failing phishing simulations – You will get better results through positive reinforcement.
- Monitor the results of your phishing simulations – Check the results and use the data to improve your training – Consider using the NIST Phish Scale for interpreting results rather than just looking at the number of failures.
- Provide a mail client add-on for reporting phishing and other suspicious emails – Single click reporting makes it easy for employees to alert the IT team to phishing threats, allowing them to remove all threats from the email system and adjust training accordingly.
- Provide interesting and engaging training content – If the training is boring, knowledge retention will be poor. Use a training vendor that offers interesting, engaging, gamified and fun training content.
- Don’t conduct lengthy training sessions – Try to restrict training to less than 40-minute training sessions, and certainly no longer than an hour – This will help with knowledge retention
- Keep your training up to date – Cybercriminals are constantly changing tactics, and your training content should reflect that. Keep abreast of the latest phishing techniques and incorporate them into your training.
- Don’t avoid training the C-Suite – All members of the workforce need to be provided with phishing training from the CEO down. The credentials of members of the C-Suite are what phishers ultimately seek. Also, ensure that the C-Suite is included in phishing simulations.
The SafeTitan Phishing Training and Phishing Simulation Platform
SafeTitan Security Awareness Training from TitanHQ includes an extensive library of training content including modules for providing phishing training for employees. The platform includes a system for easily assigning and tracking training for the workforce and a phishing simulation platform for conducting internal phishing simulations. The platform allows organizations to easily develop a security awareness training program for the workforce and there is considerable scope for customizing training programs and teaching user groups about the specific threats they are likely to encounter.
The training content is engaging, entertaining, and interactive, and has been developed to improve knowledge retention, with training provided in short modules of no more than 10 minutes. The phishing training components are based on real-world phishing attacks and current tactics, techniques, and procedures used by phishers, and the training content is frequently updated to incorporate changing tactics and phishing techniques. The delivery of training can also be automated and delivered in real-time in response to security errors, such as clicking a link in a simulated phishing email.
The phishing simulation solution allows IT teams to easily develop a robust, structured phishing simulation program to test the effectiveness of their training and the ROI in terms of improving security awareness. Individuals who have not taken the training on board or are not applying their training can be identified and corrective action is taken before they fall victim to a real phishing attack.
If you want to block cyberattacks, you need a security-aware workforce, so empower your team through phishing training for employees and give them the cybersecurity skills to become security Titans. Contact TitanHQ today and the team will be happy to help you get started and can provide a product demonstration of SafeTitan on request.