Security Awareness Training: What It is, Why it Matters and How It Can Protect Your Organization

by | Jul 31, 2019 | Blog

Security Awareness Training has been a major topic for discussion in recent years with no signs of slowing down. Growth in the security awareness market has risen exponentially due to the increasing number of phishing attacks in recent in years. Security Awareness Training involves two steps. The first is testing employees with simulated phishing emails, to test how well they are able to spot fraudulent emails. The second is providing employees with training materials, so they become more security aware and can spot phishing attacks more easily in the future.

Phishing attacks are the most common type of attack targeted at businesses of all sizes. They can be highly damaging to businesses. Not only is there a financial risk, but also public trust and customer retention are some of the ramifications of falling victim to a phishing attack.

With one in three businesses falling victim to an attack or breach in the past 12 months, the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 reveals that attacks are becoming more costly and targeted. But how do these attack happen and how can security awareness training combat the most common cyber threats today?


What are Phishing Attacks?

Phishing is a form of social engineered attack often used to capture user data such as username, passwords, payment information and more. Attackers pose as an individual or organization, with intent to manipulate employees to performing specific actions, like clicking on a malicious link or attachment. A Verizon report in 2019 revealed that 32 % of data breaches involved phishing.

There are also more sophisticated and targeted types of phishing attacks. Spear Phishing targets a specific person or organization, which appears more authentic than random attacks.  These attacks often aim to infect devices with malware or to compromise information which allows perpetrators to seek finical gains or inside information.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) email fraud also known as ‘ CEO  Fraud’ or ‘Whaling’ is an exploit where the attacker gains access to a corporate email account such as the CEO, or another high-level executive. They use this access to defraud the company, by asking employees to pay fraudulent invoices, or targeting other companies to wire transfers. High level email accounts often have originally become comprised via phishing  attempts or other means of social engineering.

BEC attacks are on the rise due to how easy they are to launch, the small risk of being caught and, to put it simply, they work. Social Engineering is a popular method for compromising a business email account and social media has made it a lot easier for cybercriminals to launch an attack. LinkedIN is a gold mine for an attacker looking for information to help carry out an attack.

Attacks have come along from the mid 1990’s, where the most common phishing attack would come from a Nigerian Prince, offering a share of a huge fortune. Today, attacks have transformed into well researched and targeted campaigns that are highly effective and incredible difficult to stop, with devastating consequences.

To find out more about phishing attacks, visit: 


How Training Employees Can Stop Phishing Attacks

Security Awareness Training can reduce the likelihood of users falling victims to phishing attacks. Many attacks rely on employees to be the company’s main vulnerability. Firstly, to obtain information to login and access their accounts. Secondly, to convince other employees that they should complete a certain action, such as send funds to an unfamiliar account. With the right Security Awareness Training both of these attempts should be unsuccessful.

As mentioned, your employees serve as your last line of defence, yet pose your biggest security risk, no matter how good they are at their jobs. Human error contributes to over 90% of security breaches, ranking higher than software flaws and vulnerabilities. Mistakes in the workplace can be costly, data breaches in 2018 cost UK organizations on average £6.4 Million.

One major factor for introducing Security Awareness Training is the fact many attacks prey on human error, coaxing employees into providing access to sensitive information. The basic need for security awareness training in every organization is great as it teaches and trains your employees to understand the risks and threats around the evolving cyber landscape, to help reduce the risk of employees falling for a fraudulent email.


What Does Security Awareness Training involve? 

Training involves delivering information in various formats, from face to face lectures, videos, documents and online tests. The end goal goal of this training should be to create a security aware consciousness of knowledge and empowering employees to bring this knowledge to the forefront all the time. In order to address the human factor that can impact your security, there is a need for training to be conducted to deliver both training and awareness.

Security Awareness Training needs to-be considered more than a compliance and check box activity if it ever going to offer any protection. Further, Security Awareness Training needs to be become encompassed into your organization’s culture. This brings up the question, can security awareness training change an organization culture towards security?  The terms security training and security culture are often used wrongly interchangeably.


Why building a Security Aware Culture is Important 

Security Awareness refers to the perceived knowledge about the risk. The information your employees hold regarding the protection of sensitive data and assets of your organisation. Security Culture is a wider concept and goes beyond knowledge of security risks and encourages key dimensions such as, attitudes, behaviours, communications and responsibilities towards risk.  

Alone, traditional Security Awareness Training will fail to be a driver for behavioural change, without there is a wider cultural adoption. If human error is your biggest weakness can Security Awareness Training condition employees to not click or open anything that looks suspicious.

Security Culture is one of the most important aspects to successfully implementing security awareness training yet is largely overlooked. Creating a security culture that ensures employees get a in-depth and thorough understanding of why security awareness training is needed and important and how their participation is key variable in the prevention of future attacks. 

Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach investigation Report revealed that on average 4% of people will click on a phishing campaign. While that number may seem small, remember it only take one person to click to open the door. Interestingly, users also tend to be repeat offenders. Further more, only 17% of employees report phishing attacks to their IT team, which reduces the increases the chances of someone else receiving the same email and clicking on it. IRONSCALES solves this issue by offering a report phishing button, which allows users to report emails as phishing attacks from directly within their email client.

End users are the first line of defence for any organization and there is a need for them to complete two tasks 1. Don’t click the link or attachment and 2. Report it and quickly. Testing your employees to assess their weakness to action attacks should alter their security awareness training they may need to undertake.

The main goal is to ensure there is awareness around the various types of attacks and how deliberate attacks work in order to report and prevent. Security Awareness Training will ensure the consequence of failing to safeguard against threats are understood and minimise yet culture will make them effective.


How IRONSCALES Security Awareness Training works

IRONSCALES goes beyond the traditional Security Awareness Training approach, allowing organizations to test and train their employees, and helping organizations to create an organization-wide culture of security awareness.

Unlike the traditional one size fit all approach to security awareness training. There needs to be approached unique to every organisation internal structure, users are often broken up into functional teams such as IT and Marketing. Further, within these groups, there are often sub groups more specialized. These sub cultures within an organization are often differ team to team.

IRONSCALES security awareness training offers a different approach with IronSchools’s with a focus on attack simulation and phishing awareness training. It reduces phishing click rates through continuous assessment and training. It leverages human awareness to report suspicious emails that can be missed by technical controls such as secure email gateways (SEG). This increases detection rates and reduces detection times.

IronSchool starts with an initial employee assessment to benchmark individual users on their phishing recognition skills. Each user is automatically graded and based on individual performance level, a training campaign comprised of short, actionable real-world phishing attack. Tailored to help improve employees awareness of threats.

Simulating mock phishing attacks increase phishing awareness training and responsiveness to current and trending techniques. To aid in phishing protection, IRONSCALES’ gamified, interactive micro-learning method trains each employee individually to think and act as a security team member, becoming proactive against a multitude of attack types. All trainings are personalized and gamified to make learning about phishing quick, easy to rememberable.


How IRONSCALES can Help Protect Your Organization

IRONSCALES makes testing and training employees effective way to defend against cyber attacks through various yet effective methods. Admins receive reports as to how well employees are performing on phishing test. 

It offers valuable metrics to measure the return on investment as to wether your training has been effective in creating awareness. You receive detailed reports offer insight into how well employees are performing and towards preventing attacks to your organization.

You can create realistic environments to run multiple email scenarios and various campaigns. Test how likely your employees are to click on any spurious URL or attachment through complete customization. From the email template to the landing pages that they get taken too if they click. Even test how likely individuals are to input passwords and sensitive information into fake landing pages.

Test your orginzation in accordance to its own unique internal structure, import all of your users and segment by department, so you can test them with relevant situations that they are mostly likely to face for example your originations accounting department will receive fraudulent invoices. Make your simulation more real to see real results that will help protect your origination against the human error. 

With IRONSCALES you will be able to generate security awareness and shape your security culture. With Simple steps, such as implementing a report phishing button into your mailbox, enabling users to quickly report phishing attacks. Create a behavioural change that addresses how your people behave is the only tangible way to address your largest security risk.

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