Cybersecurity has become a top priority for most companies. Many businesses have already invested significantly in security software to mitigate attacks. Corporate tech leaders have even promised that they will increase their cybersecurity spending in 2020.
But regardless of how much companies invest in their defenses, a single human error can still compromise their IT infrastructure. One out of four data breaches in the US is caused by human error.
Hackers are fully aware of this human weakness; they use a variety of social engineering tactics to trick users into opening malicious attachments or giving their access credentials. For instance, hackers are now actively using the coronavirus outbreak to carry out their phishing campaigns to install ransomware in computers. Once deployed, the ransomware will encrypt files and documents until a ransom is paid.
Fortunately, phishing training platforms, such as Hoxhunt, allow companies to educate their staff members and help them spot and respond to social engineering attacks.
“It’s alarming how companies often overlook the human element in cybersecurity. If this continues, we’ll sadly see more successful phishing campaigns and data breaches. It’s time for businesses to step up and ensure that employees in their organization will fall for such scams so easily,” Hoxhunt CEO Mika Aalto says.
Exploiting human error
Companies are increasingly adopting enterprise-grade security solutions to make it tough for hackers to infiltrate their networks. This is why most cyberattacks are now designed to exploit human nature instead of software and hardware vulnerabilities.
Hackers are relentless in developing their social engineering techniques such as phishing and spear phishing to trick and manipulate more users. Previously, they only sent mass fake messages, hoping one of the recipients would open the email and click on the malicious link. Attackers now use a more sophisticated approach to increase the likelihood of users falling for their ruse.
Hackers carefully compose emails that purport to be from trustworthy parties and include malicious links to direct recipients to bogus sites. These sites can look like legitimate login pages and can trick users to input their access credentials. Compromised emails can also be used to reply to ongoing company threads and send documents injected with malware.
Some hackers even leverage data mining and machine learning to personalize attacks to bypass conventional spam filters.
Training is key
To avoid falling victim to such attacks, companies must train their employees so that they will be able to accurately identify phishing attempts. Fortunately, they can use phishing training platforms to help them easily educate their teams and improve their security.
Hoxhunt, for example, is an automated phishing simulator that can be used to train all users within an organization. The platform can launch simulated phishing attacks by sending dummy emails based on real-life threats.
These emails can even be highly customized and personalized to ensure that employees across different teams in the organization can be trained on how to avoid phishing scams based on their specific contexts and functions. Employees are tasked to identify these “malicious” emails and report them using Hoxhunt’s browser or email client plugin.
The platform also makes training fun and engaging. Employees who are able to accurately report the simulated phishing attempts are rewarded with points and can place higher in the leaderboards. Companies can also incentivize their top performers.
Hoxhunt also ensures that no one is left behind. Those who fail to spot dummy emails will receive bite-sized information about the threats they missed. They will not be forced to go through lengthy and oftentimes boring lectures. Rather, they continuously learn through exposure and reinforcement.
The training that the platform provides has been seen to result in actual improvements in employees’ behavior towards real phishing attacks. Companies that use Hoxhunt have enjoyed a 60 percent increase in reporting actual phishing attempts.
“Hackers won’t stop finding ways to work around security solutions. So, it’s really important that companies don’t find themselves failing to keep pace with how attacks are evolving. One of the best ways to bolster their defenses is to educate their employees. Developing the right capabilities and behaviors of their staff can save them from a lot of trouble in the long run,” Aalto adds.
While companies invest in capable security software, they still leave their organizations vulnerable to attacks as long as there are staff members who are not as knowledgeable about cybersecurity as they should be. Organizations cannot risk being complacent unless they want to suffer from a data breach.
“There’s no real bulletproof solution for data breaches. Even the most capable solutions can sometimes fall short and attacks slip through to employee’s inboxes. But if everyone adopts a security-first mindset and uses knowledge and caution, detecting suspicious activities and mitigating attacks will be much easier,” Aalto concludes.