Chapter 8: Protecting your data with a phishing test

A 2018 report blamed phishing for 48% of all data breaches, most of which occurred during the last three months of the year. With breaches costing companies millions of dollars annually, it’s crucial that you protect your organization from phishing. One of the best ways to do this is to conduct a phishing test.

What is a phishing test?

A study found that employees are especially susceptible to phishing emails, especially if the messages appear to come from someone in authority. In phishing tests, mock phishing emails and web pages are sent out to employees. The test helps employees identify the different types and distinct characteristics of phishing emails.

Studies have shown that a phishing test is more effective than awareness campaigns where employees merely read about phishing and its effects. After all, the former gives participants a good idea of what phishing is without exposing them to the real thing.

Careful preparation is needed for a successful phishing test. Here are pointers to keep in mind:

#1. Choose the best tools

There are several phishing test tools in the market. If you’ve partnered with a managed services provider (MSP), you can ask for assistance in choosing a tool that meets your organization’s needs and budget.

#2. Train your employees

Get your employees’ support by informing them about the test and teaching them what phishing is. Educate them and tell them what to do if they experience an attack. If the test is conducted without prior training, the activity will seem like a ploy to catch negligent workers. Your participants will be defensive and may not welcome new information.

Try to make your mock emails seem like they came from one of the bosses in your company. Spear phishing, a type of phishing that has victimized even big corporations, uses emails that appear like they came from an authority, like the CEO, manager, or an important customer, to make them seem more urgent, trustworthy, and legitimate.

Phishing statistic 48% data breach 2018

Certain types of phishing, such as whaling, target a company’s top brass. For this reason, phishing tests shouldn’t be administered only to rank-and-file workers, but senior management members as well.

#3. Create a channel for reporting phishing emails

So your employees got a phishing email — what do they do next? Put up an email address so they can forward suspicious messages for review by your IT experts. If possible, install a “Report” button in every employee’s inbox to make the process easier. By simplifying the reporting process, you encourage everyone to take an active part in detecting and getting rid of phishing messages.

#4. Conduct several tests using different phishing methods

Phishing is a continuously evolving scam, so tackling it in earnest will take more than one discussion. After you have trained everyone in the basics of phishing, schedule other tests later to discuss specific phishing methods. Keep your employees’ knowledge updated by testing them regularly.

#5. Analyze the results

After running the test, examine the results for the following metrics:

  • Link click rate
  • The number of people who shared private information
  • Those who reported a phishing email

With subsequent tests, your goal should be to reduce the first two and to increase the third. Share the results with everyone, but do not specify which individuals or groups performed a certain way. However, identify what people did wrong and how they can do better next time.

Rewards can have an unbelievably positive effect on people. If you notice that some individuals or groups performed well, tell them they’re doing a great job through email. You can even make a contest out of the test by pitting departments against each other.

Encourage low performers to do better next time. Don’t be rude or patronizing. Instead, tell them you appreciate their efforts and offer a tutorial if they have difficulty understanding certain elements of the test.

Protecting your organization from phishing is not something you can accomplish alone. Every member of your company, from the executives down to rank-and-file employees, must contribute to data security. Running a phishing test ensures that everyone is up to this crucial task.

Boost your protection from phishing and other types of cyberattacks by partnering with an MSP like Zeta Sky. By monitoring your network 24/7, an MSP can detect security attacks and address them before they do any damage. Contact us now to get started!

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