Jon Cullum

How Anti Phishing Training makes a Difference – 10 Key Benefits

  By Jon Cullum

Phishing attacks, attempts by cyber criminals to gain access to information such as passwords, personal information and financial data via email and other means are the most common type of cyberattack identified by SMEs and are on the increase.

Businesses are aware, but even with anti-malware and threat detection software in place, there is still one last line of defence, the individual. Cyber criminals are aware that technical security measures can only go so far and they play on human nature to make their entry into businesses via social engineering and manipulation. Deceptive messages often mimic legitimate sources, such as companies or individuals we trust, and, with the advent of AI, it is becoming far easier for cyber criminals to fake messages which manipulate us to gain our trust enough to click on a link to divulge information or download malicious malware.

It is more important than ever to ensure your business is secure and that all your employees and contractors are aware of the dangers.

Why you need Phishing Awareness Training

Working in the office, from home or remotely, staff often struggle to spot or deal with phishing attempts. Not only is it hard to spot phishing, but on occasions where phishing is detected it is often too late and then hard for employees to admit they have clicked on a suspicious link. Instilling confidence in employees on how to identify threats and building a culture in which they can act and report on phishing, by way of phishing awareness training, is the first step in building the human level of protection needed for both your company and employees.

Key elements in successful phishing awareness training

  • Your employees, contractors and senior management need to be in a position where they can recognise when security is at stake and take the appropriate course of action, understanding why security matters to them, the consequences to them, as well as the business as a whole.
  • Phishing awareness training should cover the different types of phishing and how to spot them. Given that we forget approximately 50% of what we are taught in a course, it is important to continuously reinforce learning. The most effective training plans take place regularly, in short bursts, with reminders through engaging content such as tests and quizzes, short videos, daily security tips, posters, screensavers, etc.
  • Training can be reinforced with regular simulations of phishing, which, if done on a monthly basis, can significantly reduce a learner’s susceptibility to phishing attacks.
  • Simple technology can be put in place to make sure that employees are able to report any emails they see as suspicious.
  • Measure the impact of your training and recognise the participation of employees through rewards and incentives.

Phishing and its Business and Personal Impact

According to the latest Verizon Data Breaches Investigations Report (2023) the three primary ways in which attackers access an organisation are stolen credentials, phishing and exploitation of vulnerabilities.

Phishing can have severe consequences for both companies and individuals.  For companies, phishing attacks can result in data breaches, financial losses, damage to reputation and compromised customer trust.  Individuals can suffer from identity theft, financial fraud with unauthorized access to personal accounts potentially leading to financial loss and emotional distress.

74% of all breaches include a human element, whether that is through making an error, privilege misuse, the use of stolen credentials or social engineering by cyber criminals.  Phishing uses social engineering to its advantage, luring people into giving away their personal or company information. 

Cyber criminals use different techniques to lure people into giving away their personal or company information.  Different types of phishing threats.  In addition to non-targeted phishing emails, they might be targeted at specific people or impersonate senior company individuals (Spear Phishing and Whaling).  Phishing is not just conducted via email, but via SMS (Smishing), phishing websites, where you are invited to leave sensitive personal information, voice messages (Vishing) and social media phishing (Angler phishing).  More definitions in our glossary>

By bringing phishing awareness training and security technology together, companies can build the human level firewall that is needed to help reduce the risk of phishing threats.

10 Key Benefits of Implementing an Anti-Phishing Awareness Programme

Is your company reaping the benefits of implementing a successful phishing awareness training programme? Check out the key benefits…

  1. Reduce phishing incidents –organisations conducting security awareness can realise a reduction in phishing incidents. Some studies report between a 64% and 80% reduction in incidents over a 12 month period.
  2. Reduce the costs for IT in resolving incidents
  3. Speed up incident response – Employees who are aware of the threats are more likely to recognize phishing attempts and report them promptly.
  4. Reduce business downtime– with employees trained to recognise potential attempts, business downtime can be kept to a minimum
  5. Adherence to regulatory compliance and social responsibility – implementing anti-phishing training will help your organisation to reduce the risk of data breaches, but also help you to adhere to data privacy regulations and reassure customers that security of their data is taken seriously.
  6. Reputation kept intact – Avoid the risk to your business’ reputation by minimising the risk of data breaches and associated negative publicity.
  7. Increased ROI – by investing in phishing awareness training the company can reduce the financial and reputational costs associated with data breaches.
  8. Enhanced security culture –building stronger awareness and confidence in your employees, they will be more vigilant in spotting threats and proactive in identifying and mitigating them.
  9. Continuous improvement – businesses that regularly update and improve their training programmes are better prepared to address evolving phishing threats. This is particularly important in a world where AI is making it easier for cyber criminals to fake content.
  10. Employee Satisfaction – Your employees will be more confident and able to protect themselves and your business, helping to boost morale and job satisfaction. Employees feel more valued when their employers invest in their development and well-being.

Phishing is here to stay, and will become ever more sophisticated in nature.  As a business you cannot make do without a continuous phishing awareness training programme.  Employee awareness and action is needed as well as technical security expertise and software tools.  By building security values into your organisation’s culture and embedding anti-phishing training into your established health and safety standards and training, security will become second-nature with the best of interests of your employees and your business at heart.

Want to find out more?  View other School of Phish blogs and watch our videos to find out how you can combined employee phishing awareness and IT tools together to help stop phishing attacks taking hold in your organisation.

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