Have you ever sent an employee an email asking for login information, to purchase something for a customer, add or change banking information, or to visit a website?
Many emails like this are sent and received every day in the normal course of business.
But, with advanced phishing techniques like spear phishing, scammers are now able to mimic these everyday emails to trick your employees into disclosing guarded information. If they are successful in their mission, these bad actors can compromise your entire organization’s system.
So how are employees supposed to know the difference between a normal email and a phishing email? The answer: phishing training for employees.
Why Should Companies Implement Phishing Training for Employees?
The more dependent a business becomes on technology, the more vital proper employee training becomes.
Cybersecurity threats are increasing daily by record-breaking numbers. With 61% of all small- to medium-sized businesses having reported at least one cyber attack last year, it’s even more likely that companies everywhere will face this reality eventually.
Of course, there are numerous ways your business can prevent phishing, but phishing training for employees is one of the most vital and effective defense mechanisms against cyber attacks.
Although it’s one of the least technical options available, phishing training for employees has been proven to be effective time and again because employees are often the last line of defense against the cyber attack.
Anti-virus software and other technical solutions can only block so much, so it’s often up to the employee to recognize those malicious emails that manage to sneak through the cracks.
What’s Included in a Phishing Training Program?
Just because phishing training for employees may not be a highly technical cybersecurity prevention tactic doesn’t mean there isn’t still a method to its success. A well-developed phishing training program should include the following:
General Phishing Education
Those who live in a world where cybersecurity is top of mind often forget that, for others, this might be brand new information. It’s always important to start with the basics and explain the “why” behind what you’re presenting. When people care about the objective behind the message, and they fully understand the concept, it’s far more likely to sink in.
Nothing’s worse than sitting through a presentation that you feel doesn’t apply to you. That’s why it’s so important to make your trainings relatable for your team! The best way for people to learn is often by experiencing it themselves.
Phishing training for employees should explain how phishing works and ways to avoid being compromised. Share real-life examples of phishing and point out the telltale signs so they know exactly what to look out for:
- Sender’s Email Address – Employees should learn to always check the domain of an email address to verify that it’s correctly associated with the sender.
- The Subject Line – An email from a scammer usually has a subject line that’s designed to instill a sense of urgency. This can be tricky because employees often do receive urgent emails asking for help or something to be done ASAP, and scammers know this.
- The URL – Don’t ever click on a link before verifying the URL. Use your cursor to hover over a link to see the URL address without actually clicking on it. By doing so, you should be able to easily spot a valid website URL from a suspicious one.
- The Ask – Read the body of the email carefully and determine if the sender is asking you for sensitive information or to spend/send money. There may also be misspellings, incorrect usages of words and mentions of purchasing gift cards, especially via electronic payments (like PayPal).
Now that you’re familiar with the telltale signs of phishing, see if you are able to spot the differences between a regular email and a phishing email using the example below:
Keep it Trendy
There are many different techniques used by would-be hackers in phishing attacks, and these techniques are always evolving to match the defenses put in place by IT departments.
With phishing training for employees, the goal is to educate your team on a continual basis about the latest techniques and trends. Hackers like to use what’s trending to modify their techniques and illicit the desired response.
A perfect example of this comes amidst The Great Resignation as companies are increasingly looking for employees. Scammers are sending emails posing as a job applicant in order to lure a hiring manager into clicking on a malicious attachment disguised as a resume.
Third-Party Testing Solutions
It’s highly recommended that your training goes beyond providing educational information. To truly gauge how effective your phishing training for employees program is, you must test it.
For example, the training tools provided by companies like KnowBe4 or IRONSCALES use the same phishing techniques that real hackers use. Training solutions like these can send emails to employees that are designed to look like those that scammers would send.
However, instead of compromising the employees’ workstations by downloading malicious software when they click on the link, they are sent to a phishing training video. The video then explains to the employees what phishing technique they fell for, why they shouldn’t have clicked on the link and how to identify these types of emails in the future.
Additionally, these training tools can give the employer access to a console where you can monitor the progress of the training and provide additional training as necessary to ensure every employee is brought up to speed.
It may be a cliché, but when it comes to phishing training for employees, consistency is key. Most technology professionals recommend that phishing training for employees be conducted monthly to keep employees aware of the ever-changing techniques and threats they could encounter from real phishing emails.
What if My Organization Doesn’t Have the Resources to Implement Phishing Training?
If internal phishing training for employees isn’t within your company’s bandwidth right now, it might be time to reach out to a professional for help.
There are many organizations that offer fully developed training programs that can be easily implemented without you having to do any of the leg work. Plus, the internet is full of free training kits, phishing awareness videos and special offers to make things more affordable.
But don’t stop at education. Your organization could also benefit from training assessments, vulnerability scans, ethical hacking and so much more to not only test your employees, but also your system’s infrastructure.
Learn More About Phishing Training for Employees