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Why You Need to Be Phishing Your Employees

By Amisha Shah | Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Arguably, human error is one of the weakest links in the security chain of any organisation, with hackers using increasingly deceiving tactics to exploit employees. Social engineering and phishing attacks gain the trust of users, encouraging them to grant hackers access to confidential information, click on malicious links, and/or fill out their details on bogus websites. 

Along with the various security tools that are available to combat these attacks, it is fundamental for a firm and its employees to be aware of the ongoing role they play in the cyber safety of the firm. This requires businesses to build and nurture a security-centric culture. The most effective path to awareness is through frequent training and testing, as hackers only need to be right once to do irreparable damage. 

In today’s blog article, we will take a look at common phishing techniques and share guidance on how to avoid getting ‘hooked’ by hackers. 

Common Phishing Techniques in Today’s Threat Landscape

Phishing attacks are most commonly conducted through electric communications such as email but have also known to be triggered via other methods of communication, for example over the telephone. In email attacks, users are tricked into opening a malicious URL link designed to appear like a website they trust, or, are presented with other fabricated content such as an attachment containing malware or falsified contact information. The goal of hackers is to trick users into transferring funds, and/or share confidential firm and client confirmation. More recently, phishing efforts are trying to gain secure access to a firm’s system and accounts in order to retrieve data over a long period of time, as opposed to the traditional grab-and-go attacks. Other variations of phishing attacks include: 

  • Spear phishing – a considerable amount of research sets the foundation for this kind of attack, so that the content is targeted to the user specifically, based on location, industry, type of firm they are employed at, and the vendor they work with, and thus highly convincing.

  • Whaling – this type of attack targets high level professionals, such as the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer, or those with complete access to sensitive data. These individuals are then spooked or duped into sharing the confidential information that the hacker is trying to retrieve. 

  • Angler phishing – this is a new type of attack that targets users on social media, where they are least expecting it. Here, the hacker will respond to a message on social media on behalf of a company the user might have initially begun a forum with, and then begin to trick users. Lately, this form of phishing has extended to various internal communications tools used globally by organisations today, such as Teams, Slack and Skype for Business. Hackers try to lure users into clicking on malware URLs in what employees would class as trustworthy platforms for private and secure communications. 

How to Avoid Getting Hooked

Urgency is one of the key alarm bells to look out for when identifying a phishing attack. The legitimacy of anything that requires users to act instantly should be questioned, particularly when it comes to monetary requests or where access to sensitive data is demanded quickly. Below are red flags that firms and their employees can look out for, to avoid falling into the trap of hackers. Here are six tips to avoid getting hooked: 

  1. Look out for emails or messages with improper grammar or spelling

  2. Check that any hyperlinked URLs match the URL shown

  3. Be wary of anything that urges you to take immediate action

  4. Do not open or download any suspicious email attachments

  5. Conduct due diligence before donating to a worthy cause, especially after a natural disaster

  6. Do not fall for claims of winning an award/competition you did not enter for

Strengthening Your Security Defences with Managed Phishing and Training 

Security awareness training alone is not enough. Employees need to be able to recognise the changing faces of malicious content if they are to protect themselves and their firm effectively. Thus, firms are advised to conduct frequent managed phishing tests to assess if employees can successfully identify new phishing techniques and threats, and, to provide immediate training in areas that require improvement. 

Partnering with a trusted, third-party cybersecurity expert enables firms to deliver discrete, time-released phishing email tests. These can be structured around four levels of complexity, to ensure the simulations are ever-relevant and realistic. Tests can be coupled with on-demand interactive security awareness training and knowledge assessments, to reinforce key concepts and improve on any vulnerabilities spotted.  

Find out more about Eze Phishing and Training and its features which have been carefully designed to strengthen the 'human firewall' (employees) of businesses around the globe. 

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