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Why You Need Phishing Simulation Software

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Why You Need Phishing Simulation Software

You can have the best anti-phishing security and regularly train your staff, but how do you know it’s effective? It only takes one mistake for your organization to fall victim to a phishing attack. Once the attack is successful, malware can be dropped on the network. Malware can run rampant in the environment and allow any number of payloads to be delivered. To test the effectiveness of your anti-phishing strategies, you need a phishing simulator.

A phishing simulator is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a tool that lets you send emails to a specific group or company-wide to test if they fall for a malicious message. The solution that you choose should be flexible to give you options. For example, maybe you want to send a message that contains a malicious link. The simulator should allow you to send a message with a link to a website page. In addition to flexible options, you also need reporting to identify who clicks the link, who ignores the phishing attempt, and who performs an action that leaves them vulnerable. You might test if the user enters their network credentials or downloads a file. Whatever your goals, you need to know the employees with a need for additional anti-phishing education.


What Type of Phishing Should You Simulate?

Several types of phishing are available to attackers. Most people know of typical spam-like phishing where a general message goes out to a user to convince them to click a link or send private information. However, attackers targeting enterprises have a much more sophisticated way of tricking employees. Targeted attacks are more common in business, so employees must be aware of the red flags, and they should know to report rather than interact with a malicious message.

A few types of phishing include:

  • Spear phishing: Attackers with lofty monetary goals will send messages to a small group of employees with high-level privileges, often executives or financial staff. They will perform research on the organization and its targets for maximum effect.
  • Whaling: While spear phishing targets a group of high-privilege users, whaling often targets specific executives or owners.
  • Cloning: Cyber-criminals will take a copy of a legitimate email and use it to target individuals within the organization. Users might recognize the email and be tricked into clicking a link or divulging private information such as credentials.
  • Smishing: Smartphones don’t usually have sophisticated anti-phishing software installed, so attackers send mass messages to individuals hoping to trick them into sending money or divulging sensitive information. It’s also easier to spoof a sender from a text message rather than an email since many organizations have email security installed.
  • Shot gunning: If attackers send thousands of messages, they hope that just a small percentage of targets fall for the phishing message. Just a small percentage of victims can still be highly valuable to a group of attackers.


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Can You Train Employees to Detect Phishing?

Training should always be available to employees to empower them to detect a phishing message. Phishing simulation software can help determine the vulnerability of your organization to decide the amount of training necessary to bring employees up to speed. Educating employees should always be a priority in any cybersecurity strategy, and it should be included in onboarding a new staff member.

A phishing simulator can be used before and after training. The simulator detects people who need the most training and using a phishing simulator after any training session determines its effectiveness. Most corporations use phishing simulators randomly throughout the year to determine if more training is needed and educate any staff members that fell for the phishing attack.

A few scenarios employees must be able to identify as a potential threat:

  • Any email messages that request sensitive information
  • Messages from executives asking for information or payment of any kind
  • Misspelled domain names similar to an official, known business name
  • Suspicious email attachments, especially executables
  • Generic greetings on messages from financial institutions

In addition to training, employees also need to know a contact name to report suspicious messages. Messages should be reported and then reviewed by an administrator or a security staff member. Knowing if the organization is under attack is useful for administrators so that they can warn users or make changes to their email security system to ensure that messages no longer reach user inboxes.

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5 Top Phishing Simulation Software Tools

TitanHQ SafeTitan: TitanHQ solely focuses on being the best in email security, spam filtering, and anti-phishing. SafeTitan is a full anti-phishing and anti-spam solution with an integrated phishing simulator built into the product. The phishing simulation is built to educate employees and make them aware of the many ways attackers use phishing as a tool to exploit human vulnerabilities. SafeTitan has training courses, videos, and quizzes, which administrators can use to give users hands-on interactive experience with phishing. Compliance is also a factor in employee awareness training, so SafeTitan helps organizations responsible for following HIPAA, GDPA, PCI-DSS, and others. Customers report that SafeTitan makes learning cybersecurity easy, and administrators get reports letting them know the employees that fall victim to any phishing simulators.

Ironscales: Ironscales is an artificial intelligence solution that offers training and email security from phishing attacks. The simulation tool focuses on business email compromise (BEC), account takeovers, and high-privilege account impersonations. Administrators can not only run phishing email simulations, but they can also run smishing events by sending malicious messages to a user’s smartphone device. Reporting solutions let administrators view the success of their phishing or smishing simulation, and identify users that fell for the attack. Ironscales is proven to help organizations improve their cybersecurity posture and protect from various email-based attacks on all clients including browsers, mobile, and desktop.

Cofense: The PhishMe tool from Cofense is probably one of the most popular on the market. Cofense incorporates threat intelligence into its product, which currently has a collection of over 26 million assets to detect malicious domains, user accounts, and common message text. Administrators can integrate the tool into Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, Gmail, and Lotus Notes. Users are tracked for every email message clicked, and administrators can benchmark success based on common metrics. Cofense offers a free PhishMe version with limited features, but it’s a great way for organizations to try out the tool before making a purchase.

Hoxhunt: Hoxhunt is a quickly growing European company, so it’s a new competitor in the market. Customers report that the tool is intuitive, and fun and makes it easy for administrators and users. The learning modules are built with users in mind and use hands-on techniques that make it fun for employees. It integrates into Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, and Outlook. Hoxhunt includes a free plugin where users can report phishing easier to the correct staff member. Users can track their own success, and Hoxhunt has leaderboards to display the top 10 successful employees. Organizations can gamify the entire phishing education in their cybersecurity strategy.

KnowBe4: For large organizations, KnowBe4 is one of the largest players on the market with over 5000 templates in their library in 34 different languages. Administrators can deploy KnowBe4 in the cloud and run it as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. Users get a button installed on their browser that immediately alerts administrators of a phishing email, which sends a message to a central dashboard where administrators can review any reports. Simulations can be sent via text messages, voice (called vishing), and email. Analytics can be used to group users into groups to identify more vulnerable ones and provide them with further phishing education.

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