We have all heard news reports about companies falling victim to sophisticated cybersecurity breaches. Some of these cases began with an employee revealing sensitive information as part of a phishing attack. 

These emails, and the associated links, can look legitimate to the untrained eye. A phishing test holds the dual benefit of measuring your company’s risk and training your employees on what to look for in these attacks.

A phishing test indicates your company’s risk

Businesses worldwide send and receive about 130 billion emails a day. Almost half of them are spam. Although many of them will never make it to the inbox, it only takes a person to click on a link or a malware-infected attachment to infect an entire company.

Spear phishing attacks are often successful because they target specific individuals or departments. These phishing tests leverage social engineering and mimic real emails focused on a particular industry. For this reason, it is essential to train employees to spot the warning signs of dangerous emails. One way to do this is by running a phishing simulation that copies the phishing messages people might receive in their inboxes. For example, an email that creates a strong sense of urgency and includes a time limit to claim a free gift.

Companies can and should run phishing tests more than once. Companies that provide simulations can usually automate them. Their messages are sent regularly and imitate topical scams – with enough variation to even focus on specific departments or even individuals. The reports generated by these simulations can provide valuable aggregated data on the number of people interacting with phishing emails. 

The ultimate goal of running phishing attack simulations is to prevent data breaches by creating solid human defences. These tests also have an additional advantage: they can bring the workforce together, creating a culture of security that can extend to an entire organisation. 

What are you risking by not conducting a phishing test? 

A phishing attack can start with a single email. An employee receives a message from the ‘Help Desk’ reminding them to update their password. At a glance, the author looks genuine; the email prompts the person to take action immediately or risk losing access to their account. When the user clicks a link, they arrive at a page that looks similar to a company page. Only, it is not. It is a fake page that now has access to the employee’s email and can see their organisation’s network.

This is just one of many phishing tactics used daily. Anyone with online access can gather enough information to fabricate a believable scam. The opportunities are there, too, particularly after the entire world has switched to remote or hybrid work and embraced different devices needed to maintain connectivity. 

Not training workers on what phishing is and how it acts can put an entire company at severe risk. Cybercriminals can take your business offline, steal its data, or lock it down until someone makes a payment. This could have an impact not just on goods and services distribution; customers can also rapidly lose trust in companies that fall victim to scams.

The way to prevent these malicious attacks is to execute proper awareness training. Phishing simulations familiarise employees with cyber threats to create a line of defence and push for a safer environment.

Educate staff that failed the phishing test 

Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Phishing training needs to be able to replicate these emails’ effectiveness to educate employees on potential threats. 

A phishing simulation can provide companies with valuable data about the level of knowledge workers possess regarding attacks. It can also help establish which employees have failed the test. The goal of a phishing simulation is not to be deliberately deceitful or expose people. Ultimately, the objective is to help senior teams educate everyone on cyber-crime.

Companies that offer phishing simulation services have sets of tests that become continuously and gradually more difficult. They can also automate their delivery, so the threats are not anticipated easily. The tests can be adapted to varying employee skill levels and help teams learn about the risks of phishing in a collaborative way. If training occurs only once or twice a year, it is more likely that users will fail the simulations. A testing tool that reinforces information can provide better results as users learn to ignore suspicious emails and report them to the security team as quickly as possible.

Any phishing simulation should be positive and transparent. Phishing is on the rise, and it only takes one unsuspecting person to expose an entire organisation.

Use the phishing test to improve your company’s resilience 

When a company runs a phishing simulation, security departments can quantify the risks to which it is exposed. But phishing does not need to be an exercise in which employees play the victim. 

Some phishing training programs experiment with the idea of letting workers design their own attacks. It begins with a task to scan for public information, available on the internet, about a company. The team running the training then selects a set of submissions and sends the employee-generated phishing emails to other people in the organisation. They then measure the different campaigns against each other and announce which ones performed better.

Employees can learn a lot about phishing attacks by trying to imitate how deceitful minds work and become aware of what type of public information can be easily weaponised for targeting specific people or departments. For example, they can see how social network posts can make companies vulnerable.

These types of activities are complementary to standard and automated phishing tests. They illustrate how keeping up with malicious threats can be an evolving challenge – but also a chance to engage in team-building activities that thwart cybercrime.

Phishing Testing with Centorrino Technologies

CT specialises in implementing phishing tests for organisations of all sizes. We can create phishing simulations targeted at stealing user credentials and leverage the results to measure your company’s risk and educate your employees.

Visit our Managed Security Services page to learn more about our capabilities.