Phishing Your Employees for Security

More than 90% of cyberattacks and resulting data breaches start with a spear phishing campaign—and many employees remain unable to discern these malicious emails from benign ones. Phishing attempts as a way into organizations’ sensitive data show no signs of slowing down. Enter the phishing simulation campaign, an increasingly popular way for employers to see how vulnerable their people are to this social engineering attack. It also allows security leaders to determine areas of weakness, and target training to those areas, rather than taking a blanketed approach. Testing if users will click on a link, go to a phishing site and fill out a form is so ‘last decade’. Cybercrime is moving at lightspeed and has gone pro in the last 5 years. Bad guys are now spear-phishing your employees, and all it takes is ONE CLICK and that workstation is infected with malware and your network is compromised.

The goal of your phishing campaign is to provide employees with a safe, simulated environment where they can learn about what real phishing attempts look like in the wild. It shouldn’t feel like a “gotcha” moment, or an attempt to make your employees feel stupid. Transparency is important in these campaigns and employees should be shown the results and hopefully over each month, they can see progress. These phishing exercises are inexpensive, and can be done with existing staff. Once you start running them, the numbers speak for themselves.  

Alerting your employees beforehand is a good way to make them feel like you’re all working together toward keeping your organization’s digital infrastructure and sensitive data safe. This announcement is also a good time to remind your employees why it’s so important to recognize suspicious emails. Real malicious emails can come with a wide and terrifying variety of malware, including the infamous ransomware. These attacks can lead to data loss and breaches, which result in damaged reputation, loss of customer trust, loss of revenue, and even fines. Once employees understand that they will get tested on a regular basis, and that there are repercussions for repeated fails, their behavior changes, and with each email they will take a second or two and ‘stop, look, think’ if this might be a scam email.