Sending phishing emails remains one of the most common and effective ways for cybercriminals to steal your business’ data and your customers’ personal information.
The reason is simple: All it takes is for one employee to open a phishing email and click the link or download a file attachment. The moment that happens, the bad guys gain access to your company’s accounts on third-party systems, and those credentials can often grant them access to additional systems as well. Or worse, malware embedded in the link or file begins to spread across your entire company’s network.
Considering that the majority of your employees probably aren’t thoroughly familiar with how a phishing attack works, there’s a good chance they’ll fall for it.
Why do employees fall prey to phishing attacks?
Phishing emails look like the emails you receive from the organizations you trust. Even the websites your employees get directed to after clicking on “spoof” links seem legit.
But if you look more closely at the email, you’ll find several red flags. One of these is the email address in the From field. Since cybercriminals can’t use a company’s official domain as their own email addresses, they’ll use an email address that looks similar to it.
For example, instead of the email being email@example.com, the email could be firstname.lastname@example.org. Notice how Paypal was subtly misspelled on the latter?
Another tell-tale sign is the To field. Legit emails from the companies and organizations you trust will put your email in the To field. That’s not the case with possible phishing emails like this one.
Then there’s the message included in the email. Most, if not all, phishing emails sent out are written to compel you to take immediate action.
One example of this is the phishing emails posing as legitimate correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The email advised the taxpayers that they need to send additional information for their income tax refund immediately can be processed.
The problem is that the majority of your employees lack the knowledge to spot a phishing email when it makes it way to their inbox.
If you want to protect your business from a phishing attack, you’ll need to train your employees on how to spot a phishing email so that they can deal with it properly. And the best way to do this is by integrating automated phishing training in your company’s cybersecurity awareness training program.
Here are a few key reasons why.
1. Increases employee engagement.
Automated phishing training platforms like Hoxhunt gamify the entire learning process in two ways.
First, it increases the difficulty level of the mock phishing emails sent to your employees as they improve their skills. This not only helps your employees refine their phishing detection skills but also gives your employees the satisfying feeling they get from finishing a level playing their favorite video game.
Second, the automated phishing training’s dashboard posts a leaderboard ranking on how well the employees are taking part in the training.
The presence of this leaderboard fosters a healthy sense of competition among your employees as they try to reach the top of the leaderboard.
Gamification also indirectly brings about a third benefit: It lets you use the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) principle to increase employee engagement. Even though automated phishing training is beneficial for everyone, not all of your employees will embrace the change. That’s because people are naturally resistant to change, and they hopefully would prefer to focus their attention on getting work done.
Those who do take to their phishing education with gusto, however, will begin to develop a new sense of camaraderie between them. They start talking about how they’re performing during coffee breaks and over lunch.
All these instances can compel those employees who initially didn’t want to take part in the automated phishing training to come on board. That way, they won’t feel like they’re being left out from the conversations.
As more employees come on board, the more protected your business will be from phishing attacks.
2. More realistic phishing attack simulations.
There are automated phishing training programs that use AI technology to generate mock phishing emails customized for each department. This makes the entire simulation more realistic.
For example, if the employee works in your IT department, he or she is more likely than others to receive an email that looks like this.
As phishing perpetrators get more sophisticated, they’re investing more into targeting individual team members and basing the content of their attacks on people’s actual tool stacks.
That’s why the best automated phishing training is also capable of creating mock phishing emails that look similar to real ones like the above.
3. Real-time reporting.
When you use a superior training system, the actions your employees take on the mock phishing emails they receive are automatically recorded. You can then generate a report of the phishing simulation to evaluate how your employees are performing.
The reports will also help you identify any patterns that you and your cybersecurity team need to address.
4. Makes sure your company stays compliant with government regulations.
Several laws and regulations that speak to data privacy have stipulations put in place to minimize – if not prevent – business from being victimized by phishing and other cyberattacks. These include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
All these regulations require you to have an awareness program in place that properly educates everyone working in your business on how to identify and avoid potential cyberattacks. Self-assessment tools like OneTrust make it easier to make sure your company’s compliance arrangements are up to snuff.
But beyond your readiness assessments, making automated phishing training a part of your cybersecurity awareness training program ensures you comply with this requirement. Automated phishing training programs give your employees a short training session immediately after they act on a mock phishing email they receive.
Automated phishing training programs teach your employees what parts of the email to check, so as to assess whether or not the email seems to be safe and legit. They also teach your employees the steps to take when they come across a suspicious-looking email. These quick learning moments help your employees develop the right habit of being vigilant and careful of the emails they open.
As a result, they become your front liners against phishing and other cyberattacks.
5. Prevent substantial financial losses.
With all the high-converting email marketing tips shared online to help marketers get better results out of their marketing campaigns, the strategies that cybercriminals use to trick people into falling prey against their phishing scams have also evolved.
They have become so effective, that even established corporations are falling victim to cyberattacks. On average, one cyber attack can cost business owners about $200,000 in damages.
And that’s just the beginning.
Regulating bodies can decide to investigate your company’s cybersecurity measures if the phishing attack’s damage is substantial. If the investigation shows your cybersecurity measures don’t comply with regulations, you can be facing a lawsuit, imposed to pay a hefty fine or both.
And when word gets out to your customers that your business suffered a phishing attack, they’ll stop doing business with you and go to your competitors. The news will also make it harder for you to acquire new clients and customers for your business. All these events deal a heavy blow to your company’s finances. That’s why many small businesses close within months after a phishing attack.
Automated phishing training empowers your employees and gives them a sense of purpose.
No security software program is perfect, no matter how sophisticated it may be.
Despite that, you need to give it your best to bolster your company’s cybersecurity. After all, there are cybersecurity vulnerabilities that you simply can’t afford to overlook — these are the ones that can wreck your business to oblivion.
Automated phishing training gives your business the added layer of protection by teaching your employees how to identify and deal with potential threats. By making the training process fun and interactive, it’ll be easier for you to instill a culture of security within your business.