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How to improve employee phishing awareness

The effectiveness of social engineering as a tactic for cybercriminals cannot be underestimated. Traditional information security tools alone are not enough to protect IT infrastructures from attacks. It is crucial to educate employees about information security threats, particularly phishing. However, there are potential issues that can arise during phishing awareness training and solutions that can be implemented.

Phishing attacks have been on the rise in recent years, and email fatigue can lead to decreased vigilance and increased vulnerability. Email protection software is not foolproof against phishing due to the human factor involved. Many organizations conduct training sessions and specialized programs to enhance employee awareness about phishing. These programs often include simulated phishing attacks to provide hands-on experience. However, there can be flaws in these training sessions, such as technical issues or employee apathy.

One common issue is that simulated phishing emails can be caught by email security systems. To ensure the effectiveness of training, it is important to adjust the protection settings so that these emails can get through. This can be done by creating exceptions for the IP addresses and domains that the messages come from. Test runs should also be conducted to ensure that the emails are not delayed, diverted to junk folders, or flagged as spam.

Reporting phishing attacks is another important aspect of employee training. Employees should be encouraged to report any potential phishing attempts to the information security team. Tools like the “Report Phishing” plugin for Outlook can be helpful in facilitating this process. This plugin allows employees to quickly and easily notify the team about suspicious emails. It also helps evaluate the effectiveness of the training program and prevents unnecessary reports from overwhelming the information security service.

Companies can also run phishing tests using emails labeled as “external sender” or “spam” to caution employees about handling such emails. However, research has shown that these labels do not significantly improve phishing detection. Employees may still click on these emails due to mistrust towards technology, inattention, or curiosity triggered by the content. Relying solely on software and hardware for email security is not sufficient, as the human factor plays a crucial role.

Training courses alone are not enough to protect against phishing. Regular practice and exposure to phishing threats are necessary to cultivate robust detection skills and enhance awareness. Ongoing engagement with employees is essential, as a single training session is not sufficient. Reports suggest that there may be an increase in unsafe actions with mock phishing even after training courses, indicating that practical skills are not fully developed. Regular phishing training emails help employees become more adept at recognizing and reporting phishing attempts.

Implementing a cycle-based phishing awareness program can be effective. This program typically starts with an initial round of simulated phishing emails to evaluate employees’ susceptibility. Training follows to educate employees about phishing. Another round of simulated phishing is then conducted to assess the effectiveness of the training. This cycle helps reinforce practical skills and awareness.

In conclusion, phishing awareness training is crucial to protect against social engineering tactics. However, there can be potential issues during implementation, such as technical problems or employee apathy. Adjusting email protection settings, encouraging employees to report phishing attempts, and implementing a cycle-based training program can help address these issues and enhance the effectiveness of the training.

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