Phishing Email Training: An Easy Cybersecurity Solution
Even if you have the best cybersecurity solutions on the market, you could still become the victim of a cyberattack.
But why? Because your employees are the biggest risk to your cybersecurity – and not even the best cybersecurity solutions can change this!
When your employees are busy, they might not think and they might not notice the red flags of a phishing email.
But, fear not. Phishing email training can help.
When you train your employees to notice phishing emails, they will become your biggest asset (rather than your biggest liability!). Learn everything you need to know about phishing email training in this blog.
Understanding Phishing Email Training
Phishing email training is where you teach your employees to stop clicking those spammy emails!
A phishing email is a form of cybersecurity attack where bad guys disguise fraudulent emails to look like they are from reputable companies or people. Hackers use phishing emails to either steal sensitive information or introduce malware.
If a hacker can get hold of sensitive information or introduce malware, they can be in a position to demand a ransom or take control of all your systems.
Phishing email training is there to ensure none of this happens.
How Phishing Email Training Works
As an IT Manager (or a business owner), you’ll have access to what type of phishing training you want to sign your staff up for.
There are 2 types of phishing email training we recommend, these are:
- Phishing Security Awareness Training
- Phishing Simulation Training
The best phishing training you can offer your staff is both. You can assign them to a phishing security awareness course, and then send them some phishing simulation emails to test their knowledge.
If They Fail
If your staff fail any phishing simulations, you can assign them more training and more simulations to help make noticing phishing emails an unconscious decision.
These are one of the most effective ways to train your staff on phishing emails. But how easy are they to set up?
How Easy Is It?
To put it simply, it’s very easy! Many email phishing training providers (like us), offer awareness training courses and phishing simulation emails that are already set up and ready to be sent. All you need to do is assign your employees to the courses and segment the phishing simulations to each department.
With step-by-step guidance and built-in reporting features, you can efficiently monitor employee progress, track metrics, and evaluate the effectiveness of each training program.
It couldn’t be easier!
But, if you want it to be more personalised to your business (say you want to send an email from your ‘CEO’), you can also create your own simulations and training courses yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you use a template, or personalise the phishing training – the ease of both enables you to quickly implement awareness campaigns and phishing email training to enhance your cybersecurity defences without significant technical expertise or extensive resources.
Although, is it worth it?
The Effectiveness of Phishing Email Training
What is it you are doing to protect yourself and your business from phishing emails?
Unfortunately, there is a trend with phishing emails and I’m afraid it isn’t a good one.
The number of phishing emails is rising. The NCSC reported that they took down 2.7 million cyber-related frauds in the 12 months leading up to March 2022. Which is nearly a whopping 400% rise since 2020.
And as phishing emails are the biggest cybersecurity risk to your business (91% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email), you need a way to protect your business.
How Phishing Training Can Help
Phishing awareness training can give your staff the basic knowledge they need to be on the lookout for. For example, they will be taught to double-check for:
- Spelling mistakes
- Wrong domains
- Unexpected emails (e.g. emails from Netflix on a work account).
- Anybody requesting money or personal information
- An unfamiliar greeting (e.g. ‘Dear sir/ madam)
With phishing email training, your employees can be thoroughly trained on the above, and then tested in real time with a phishing simulation.
People click on links without thinking. And that’s why you need phishing awareness training and phishing simulations. When staff fail phishing simulations enough and face consequences (more awareness training), they will learn to always double-check the red flags of an email.
This will teach them to spot real phishing emails and stop them in their tracks.
One business where phishing email training has been effective is ‘Milwaukee County‘.
After using phishing email training, Milwaukee County’s employees are so well-versed in phishing emails that they now notice phishing emails before their IT department!
Milwaukee County used a phishing awareness campaign and then a phishing simulation to test employees’ new skills. Using both of these, they found that a high number of employees enjoyed the courses and the ‘competition’ of if they passed/ failed the simulation.
Overall, the employees at Milwaukee County have become more involved with phishing training, and are now better prepared to protect the business. So to them, the email phishing training has been effective.
Benefits of Phishing Email Training
As we’ve seen in the example of Milwaukee County, there are many benefits to your business for employing phishing email training.
Some of these are:
Enhancing Employees’ Ability To Recognise And Report Phishing Emails
Phishing email training, along with phishing simulations, enhances employees’ ability to recognize and report phishing emails effectively. Simulated phishing campaigns provide employees with realistic scenarios to practice.
With phishing email training, employees can learn to spot suspicious links, sender addresses, and requests for sensitive information. The combined approach of awareness training and simulations empowers employees to become a strong line of defence against phishing – strengthening overall organizational security.
They Strengthen the Overall Cybersecurity Posture of Organizations
By immersing employees in simulated phishing scenarios, they will gain a heightened sense of awareness and critical thinking when it comes to identifying and responding to phishing attacks.
This hands-on experience helps employees become more vigilant and less likely to fall victim to real-world phishing attempts.
Additionally, phishing simulations provide valuable insights into any vulnerabilities and areas that require further training or security enhancements. By addressing any weaknesses in your cybersecurity, you can fortify your defences, mitigate risks, and enhance your overall resilience against phishing and other cyber threats.
Mitigate The Risk of Data Breaches and Financial Losses
Phishing email training and simulations mitigate the risk of data breaches and financial losses by educating employees and utilising detection skills. This way, organizations can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
By educating employees, prompt reporting and swift responses will further reduce successful phishing incidents and will avoid any costly consequences such as regulatory penalties and reputational damage.
But of course, there are always challenges and limitations to creating a successful campaign.
Challenges and Limitations
As the IT Manager you can select and create the courses your staff take, and you can design the phishing simulations that your employees get – but your training is only as good as you have time for.
As an IT Manager, you’re busy and you’ve got a lot on. You’ve only got a certain amount of time to spend on the training, and you’ve got numerous problems that keep rearing its head.
The problems you may experience with an email phishing training campaign are:
1. The Evolving Nature of Phishing Techniques
Phishing techniques constantly evolve which poses a challenge for you to keep pace.
As cybercriminals adapt their tactics, training content must be regularly updated to reflect the latest threats, however, this can be difficult to always keep on top of.
However, if you utilise our training courses and phishing simulations, we keep on top of all the trends for you. All our courses and emails are updated regularly.
2. Your Employee Engagement and Participation
Engaging employees and motivating them to train can also be difficult. Some employees may perceive the training as repetitive or time-consuming, leading to reduced engagement.
Employees may also perceive this as though you are setting them up for failure – and may then feel demotivated in the training. To overcome all of this, you should employ interactive and engaging training methods, such as gamification, real-life case studies, and interactive simulations.
Additionally, you should emphasise the importance of cybersecurity and highlight the potential risks so that employees can recognize the significance of the training.
3. Replicating Real-World Complexity in Simulations
While phishing simulations are valuable tools for practice, they may not fully replicate the complexity and sophistication of real-world phishing attacks.
Real-life scenarios can vary significantly, making it challenging to cover all possible situations in simulations.
One of the best ways you can work with real-life situations is to segment your employees on the phishing simulator by the department. That way, you can always play into the trends of that department and you don’t necessarily need to keep up with real-world complexities – e.g. new HMRC scams.
If you’re struggling with this, keep up to date by following Jera on LinkedIn. We can keep you up with cybersecurity trends year-round.
4. Individual Factors and Susceptibility
The effectiveness of phishing email training can be influenced by individual factors of your employees, including prior knowledge and varying levels of susceptibility to phishing.
Some employees may have more experience or familiarity with cybersecurity practices, while others may be more vulnerable to falling for phishing attempts.
Tailoring training content to different audience segments, providing advanced modules for experienced employees, and offering additional support or resources for those who need it can help mitigate these challenges.
Despite these challenges and limitations, organizations can take proactive steps to enhance the effectiveness of phishing email training and simulations. Regularly checking our training content, employing engaging methods, combining simulations with real-time awareness campaigns, and considering individual factors can contribute to a more robust and impactful training program.
By continuously improving and reinforcing training, you can empower your employees to become your biggest asset against phishing attacks.
Best Practices for Effective Phishing Email Training
To overcome all these challenges, you need to work hard at creating your phishing email training – or get someone to work hard for you!
Here are some of the best practices you can follow for effective phishing email training:
1. Customization and Relevance
You should tailor your training content to the specific needs and roles within the organization. Different departments may face unique phishing challenges, so personalisation ensures the training remains relevant and relatable.
Incorporating real-life examples and scenarios will help to resonate with employees in their daily work activities. For example, your marketing department may get emails from different social media platforms. You should segment them to get a simulated phishing email from ‘Facebook’.
The more relevant you make it – the harder it is. And you want it as hard as possible so that your employees pass all the real phishing emails.
2. Interactive and Engaging Training Methods
Utilize interactive and engaging training methods to enhance employee participation and retention. Incorporate gamification elements, such as quizzes, simulations, and challenges, to create an interactive learning experience.
Encourage healthy competition among employees and provide rewards or recognition for active participation and successful identification of phishing attempts. Be like ‘Milwaukee County’ and make it a competition where staff freely talk about passing and failing.
3. Ongoing Training and Reinforcement
Phishing email training should not be a one-time event.
Implement a continuous training program that reinforces key concepts and updates employees on emerging phishing techniques. Regularly provide refresher courses and share timely information about new phishing trends or tactics to ensure employees stay vigilant and up to date.
4. Provide Feedback
Provide immediate feedback and guidance to reinforce correct behaviours and educate employees on areas for improvement if they fail any simulations.
Use simulation results as a benchmark to identify knowledge gaps and focus on future training efforts.
5. Clear Reporting Procedures
Establish clear reporting procedures for employees to promptly report suspicious emails or incidents. Encourage a culture of open communication and emphasize that reporting is a vital part of your organization’s defence against phishing attacks.
Additionally, ensure your employees know how and to whom they should report potential phishing attempts, and provide them with easy-to-use reporting mechanisms.
For example, we use a ‘red fish’ symbol on Microsoft for easy reporting.
6. Management Support and Leadership Involvement
Obtain support and involvement from management and leadership to foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness. When leaders actively participate in training sessions and emphasize the importance of cybersecurity, employees are more likely to take training seriously.
7. Metrics and Evaluation
Establish metrics and evaluation mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of the training program. Track key performance indicators, such as the reduction in successful phishing incidents, the increase in reported suspicious emails, and employee feedback.
Use this data to continuously evaluate and improve the training program, ensuring its relevance and impact over time.
By incorporating these best practices into their phishing email training programs, you can create a comprehensive and effective approach to educate and empower employees in the fight against phishing attacks.
A well-designed and regularly updated training program, combined with continuous reinforcement, fosters a security-conscious workforce capable of identifying and mitigating the risks associated with phishing emails.
But, how can you evaluate if using these best practices has actually helped your cybersecurity?
Evaluating the Success of Phishing Email Training
It’s all fine and well using these best practices, but let’s be honest – is it worth your time and effort?
You’ve got a busy life in IT and you need to constantly be pushing out new cybersecurity procedures. So, how do you evaluate if the phishing email training was a success?
1. Phishing Incident Metrics
Track and analyze metrics related to phishing incidents within your business. Measure the number of reported phishing emails, successful phishing attempts, and any financial or data losses incurred.
Compare these metrics before and after implementing the training program to assess its impact on reducing successful phishing incidents.
2. Click-through Rates in Simulated Phishing Campaigns
Evaluate the click-through rates in simulated phishing campaigns conducted during and after the training program. Assess how well your employees are able to recognize and avoid simulated phishing attempts.
Lower click-through rates indicate improved awareness and response to phishing threats.
3. Employee Feedback and Surveys
Collect feedback from employees who have undergone phishing email training. Conduct surveys or interviews to gauge their perception of the training’s effectiveness, relevance, and impact.
Employee feedback provides valuable insights into the strengths and areas for improvement in the training program.
4. Follow-up Assessments and Knowledge Checks
Conduct follow-up assessments and knowledge checks to evaluate employees’ retention of training material. Test their understanding of phishing techniques, identification methods, and reporting procedures.
Assess whether employees have retained and applied the knowledge gained from the training.
5. Incident Response and Reporting Timelines
Evaluate the effectiveness of incident response and reporting timelines post-training. Measure how quickly employees report suspicious emails and the subsequent response time of IT and security teams. Decreased response time indicates that employees are proactive in reporting potential phishing incidents.
By evaluating the success of phishing email training using these metrics and strategies, you can gauge how much the training has increased your business’s cybersecurity.
These evaluations provide valuable insights that guide future training initiatives and reinforce a strong defence against phishing attacks.
Remember though, phishing training is about the long game. Some employees may click on anything, and it may take a while for them to learn and act appropriately. Lots of phishing simulations should be carried out on these types of employees.
In conclusion, phishing email training is a must for your business in today’s world.
It should be relatively easy for you to set up and could protect you from 91% of cyberattacks. Just follow the best practices, and your business with reap the benefits.