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Phishing Scams: What are they all about?

Phishing scams are still some of the most common and effective cyberattacks in today’s business landscape. According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), they have received over 23 million phishing scam reports as of September 2023, causing millions in monetary losses.  

Hence, it is critical to recognise the risks these scams present to your business. Otherwise, your business might become the next target.  

A CISCO report also showed that 90% of data breaches came through phishing. To safeguard your business, It helps to go beyond conventional security measures.  

One effective strategy is to conduct a comprehensive phishing test across your staff, which will expose weak links and identify areas for employee training and awareness. 

This blog will delve into different types of phishing scams and how you can secure your business by running phishing tests for your employees.  

Whats the goal of phishing emails? 

Cybercriminals use phishing emails to drive unsuspecting individuals into actions that could affect them or their business operations. These could include sending money, revealing passwords or other sensitive information or downloading malware. Two main effects of phishing emails are: 

Financial theft —Phishing attempts are mostly geared towards stealing your money. Scammers typically use several tactics, like business email compromise (BEC), to execute fraudulent transfers or launch ransomware attacks to extort victims. 

Data theft — Your data, such as usernames, passwords, identity details (e.g., social security numbers), and financial information (e.g., credit card numbers or bank account details) are valuable to scammers. They can use your login details to introduce malware into systems or conduct financial theft. They can also sell your data for profit on the dark web. 

Common forms of phishing in emails 

Visiting a website: When a phishing email instructs you to visit a website, the objective is often to steal information like passwords, giving the criminal access to your business or personal systems. 

Clicking a Link: Cybercriminals often also try to get you to click links within messages. These often trigger malicious downloads or give them access to your data or systems.  

Opening an Attachment: Some messages deliver malicious software via an attachment included in the phishing email. As the emails often appear to come from trusted sources, victims innocently open the attachment, falling into the phishing trap. That is common with malware attacks. 

Entering Information: Cybercriminals can access information through an embedded form on a malicious website, tricking victims into entering their credentials. Once users submit the requested information, hackers can then steal their credentials and initiate an account takeover attack (ATO). 

Replying Directly: Scam artists can masquerade as trusted colleagues, business executives, or regular correspondents to deceive victims into divulging sensitive information. Conversation hijacking, where cybercriminals interject themselves into an existing conversation thread, is a common example of this type of attack. 

Pressurising: Emails that pressure you to take immediate actions, like fund transfers, are also often dangerous. So, be careful and verify the authenticity of such requests before taking action. 

Phishing Test for employees 

Phishing simulations involve creating realistic attacks to gauge your organisation’s vulnerability to such threats. They mimic tactics that cybercriminals use, like deceptive emails, to trick staff into disclosing sensitive information or clicking malicious links. The main aim is to assess how well staff can identify and deal with phishing scams. 

Phishing tests can be a powerful tool for your organisation. Some key benefits include: 

They create Employee Awareness: Phishing tests for staff are a powerful practical tool for keeping the team aware of phishing threats. Through first-hand experience, they would be equipped to identify red flags often associated with phishing emails.

They promote behavioural change: As employees become more proficient at identifying phishing scams, they are less likely to fall victim to real attacks. Such behavioural change is key in improving your overall cyber security posture. 

They can pinpoint weak links: Your cyber security is only as strong as your weakest link. Phishing tests for staff help you identify areas where employees may be more susceptible to phishing attacks. You can also know which teammates need more guidance based on the “victims” of the fake phishing emails. That allows you to tailor training programs to address those vulnerabilities effectively. 

Best practices in running phishing tests for employees 

Running phishing tests shouldn’t just be a one-time endeavour. Rather, it should be an ongoing process integrated into an organisation’s cybersecurity strategy. Some key considerations to help you run phishing tests for employees effectively include:

  1. Assessment and PlanningConduct a thorough assessment of the organisation’s current security awareness levels. Identify potential weak points to help you develop a tailored plan for your phishing tests. It will also include identifying key employees to target who are a risky point of contact for the company. 
  2. Selecting the Right Tool Choosing a phishing tool that aligns with your organisation’s needs and capabilities is important. Consider factors like scalability, variety of templates, ease of use, and others.
  3. Customisation: Phishing tests for employees are most effective if they are tailored to imitate scenarios most relevant to your organisation. That approach ensures that employees are exposed to situations they are likely to encounter in their daily activities.
  4. An educative program: Before and after every phishing simulation, always provide the necessary resources, such as training on guidelines and tips for recognising phishing attempts, reporting and engaging in safe online behaviour.
  5. Regular Testing and Improvement: Regular tests also allow you to track improvements in employee awareness and address any emerging vulnerabilities. Analyse the results of each phishing simulation to identify trends and areas for improvement. The data can then be used to update cyber security policies, refine training programs and derive new measures.

Improve Your Overall Email Security 

As cybercriminals evolve in their tactics, businesses need to stay ahead by implementing proactive security measures. Phishing tests for employees are some of such tactics that have proven effective in raising awareness amongst staff and training them in identifying and handling phishing scams.  

With the insights derived from phishing tools like Knowbe4, your organisation can create a robust cybersecurity culture that empowers staff as the first line of defence.  

Emails are critical to the growth of your business since they are a key avenue for communication. Yet, it can be quite tricky to enforce email safety standards in-house. That is why we recommend collaborating with an IT service provider like Kalara. 

Our team will provide the tools and resources to protect your business against cyber threats. 

Kalara have partnered with the leading cyber security awareness provider to deliver and manage end security training and simulated phishing attacks. The platform provides a vast library of customisable phishing templates and offers detailed reporting to track and measure employee performance. Sounds complex? No problem, Kalara can set this all up for you. 

That way, you can focus on other aspects of your business. 

Contact us today, and let’s help you secure your emails.  

In our eBook, Your Guide to Email Safety, you will also learn how to improve your email security and avoid potential traps. Download it for free here. 

Contact us today to discuss how we can supply dedicated IT Services to support your business