Phishing is the leading cause of data breaches that organizations around the world are currently facing. And because phishing attacks exploit human communication behaviors, the first step in defending your business against phishing is in making sure that your employees know that these attacks exist. Education is one of our best defenses against phishing, and the number of powerful phishing awareness training solutions out there are largely to thank for the decrease in click rates and increase in reporting rates in the last year.
As technology advances, cybercriminals are adapting their phishing attacks to make malicious messages harder for machines and humans to identify. Traditional phishing emails target hundreds or even thousands of recipients at a time. They’re designed to trick users into clicking on a URL to a webpage where they’re asked to enter personal information. Spear phishing emails are targeted and personal. The attacker impersonates a trustworthy source, pretending to know their victim, so that unsuspecting users will trust them when they ask for sensitive information. Both types of attack have key indicators that users can look out for to determine whether an email is genuine or fraudulent.
In this article, we’ll explore the top ten phishing awareness training solutions designed to transform employees into an additional layer of defense against social-engineering attacks. These solutions offer a range of engaging, learner-focused training materials, which teach your employees how to identify and report suspicious activity; admin reporting, which allows you to see who has completed the training; and realistic simulations to drill your employees on what they’ve learned. We’ll give you some background information on the provider and the key features of each solution, as well as the type of customer that they are most suitable for.
ESET is a market-leading cybersecurity provider, offering a comprehensive security platform for organizations globally. Their cybersecurity awareness training program includes up-to-date and gamified training modules, phishing simulations and user testing, and robust management and reporting capabilities from the admin console. ESET’s phishing awareness training includes interactive activities that can be completed on-demand, at a user’s own pace. Content includes real-life scenarios, gamification, quizzes, and role-playing, and organizations can upload their own content and create quizzes, as well as customize existing content with their brand logos.
Admins can test users by running simulated phishing campaigns using pre-built, customizable and relevant templates from their library, or by creating their own from scratch. Campaigns are easy to create and manage, and admins can group specific users and departments to be tested. ESET additionally includes a plugin for Office 365 users, which allows them to report any suspicious emails—including simulated ones. Users that fail simulations by clicking on the links within can be automatically enrolled in refresher training. The platform also offers robust management and real-time reporting capabilities for admins on one centralized dashboard. The user-friendly dashboard provides an overview of course progress and enrollment for users, as well as phishing campaign metrics and reports.
Overall, ESET’s phishing awareness training and phishing simulation tool is easy to use for both admins and users, and is quick and straightforward to implement. Importing users is simple, with options to sync with Active Directory or to manage via CSV. Training is easy to access, and takes only 90 minutes to complete, so this program is ideal for organizations looking for short, yet informative, training. We recommend this program for organizations across all industries as the phishing template library includes templates specifically for those in banking, finance, healthcare and more. The program is best suited for US-based organizations looking for engaging security awareness content as well as robust phishing simulations.
Hook’s PsySec training content is made up of two programs: Essentials and Deep Dives. The Essentials program is delivered annually and covers broad topics that all employees should have a robust understanding of. These include phishing, password security and working from home securely. PsySec Deep Dives are delivered monthly and aim to make complex topics and more accessible. To do this, they utilize scenario-based learning and entertaining narratives. Employees receive a monthly single-video course that explores one security topic in depth and in an immersive way.
Phished is a security awareness training provider that helps users to accurately identify and report email threats. Its comprehensive approach is made up of four key features: awareness training and checkpoints, phishing/SMiShing simulations, active reporting, and threat intelligence. These features work together to turn users into a “human firewall” that can prevent social engineering attacks.
Training is delivered through engaging micro-learning modules with gamified elements such as badges, medals, and certificates. Phished automatically sends personalized phishing/SMiShing simulations to test users’ responses to threats, and explains the correct response if a user falls for a fake phish by clicking on a link or entering credentials into a fake phishing webpage. Admins can also create phishing campaigns from scratch or using a template. Users can report threats through the Phished Report Button integrated within their email client. Users are notified whether a reported email is safe, a simulation, or a genuine threat, with real threats being analyzed and quarantined automatically. The platform also employs threat intelligence to identify global malicious campaigns and notify users if there’s a campaign that may target them.
The combination of training, simulations, and reporting generates a Behavioral Risk Score for each user, giving immediate insight into vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. Phished is easy to deploy, with support for Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, and users can be onboarded manually, via .csv file, or through Active Directory integration. With its strong training and reporting capabilities, ease of use, and ease of deployment, Phished is a great solution for both SMBs and enterprises looking for an effective way to train employees against phishing threats.
SafeTitan (formerly “Cyber Risk Aware” prior to its acquisition by TitanHQ) is a security awareness training platform designed to help organizations deliver effective cybersecurity, IT policy and compliance training to their users. The platform is suitable for larger enterprises that want to measure the effectiveness of their security awareness training, and for MSPs that want to add a strong SAT platform to their product offering to help their SMB clients mitigate cyber risk. SafeTitan offers a combination of engaging content, customizable phishing simulations, and just-in-time training, which admins can manage and monitor via a single easy-to-use portal.
With SafeTitan, admins can assign training from the platform’s library of video and quiz content, as well as upload their own training materials via SCORM integration. Each SafeTitan course takes only 8-10 minutes to complete. Admins can also create simulated phishing campaigns to train their users to be vigilant of what real-world attacks could look like. Simulations can be sent to the entire organization or user groups, and can be built from scratch or using SafeTitan’s regularly updated templates.
SafeTitan also offers powerful real-time intervention training that uses alert data from an organization’s existing security technologies to identify when users engage in risky behaviors. The platform then automatically sends those users training content tailored to their specific actions. Admins can view how often alerts are triggered over time to monitor changes in user behavior. This helps users contextualize security risks, allows admins to measure how successfully their training is influencing positive behavior change across the organization, maximizes ROI on technical defences, and reduces costs by targeting content exactly where it’s needed, rather than assigning content to users that it may not be relevant to.
SafeTitan is easy to set up, with integrations with Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and a number of popular single sign-on solutions. It offers enterprise-grade training to large businesses and SMBs via TitanHQ’s broad MSP community, and also enables those organizations to measure how effective that training is.
IRONSCALES is the fastest-growing email security company that provides businesses and service providers solutions that harness AI and Machine Learning to stop phishing attacks. Their solutions include integrated phishing simulation and security awareness training to arm employees to identify and report advanced and emerging email-based attacks—leading to an improved overall security posture for the company. IRONSCALES include security awareness training and phishing simulation testing alongside Complete Protect™, their integrated cloud messaging security solution.
Their comprehensive simulation and training approach makes it easy to send and track training videos on a wide range of security-related topics to the people who need them most. Employees benefit from engaging, bite-sized videos that cover current real-world threats and targeted training campaigns, with content that addresses various industry compliance training requirements including GDPR, HIPPA, PCI, PII, and more. Detailed engagement reporting also allows IT teams and admins to track measurable outcomes, to identify employees who may require additional security awareness training. IRONSCALES video training library covers various cybersecurity categories with quick and easy-to-consume content in nine different languages, and the option to upload, track and score your own content.
Overall, IRONSCALES is a strong solution that combines varied security awareness training materials and targeted phishing simulations to improve the security posture of your organization by empowering employees to identify and protect themselves from sophisticated cybersecurity threats. We would recommend the IRONSCALES security awareness offering to organizations who are interested in a single unified solution that educates users on cybersecurity threats and teaches them to recognize what a suspicious email looks like in their usual email environment.
Proofpoint are a global market leader in email security solutions, and their security awareness training can be leveraged on its own or in a combination with Proofpoint’s technical security solutions. Proofpoint Security Awareness Training (formerly Wombat Security) is made up of a range of modules that sit within a user-friendly platform. It includes phishing, smishing and USB testing simulations, training modules and knowledge tests. The training materials themselves comprise a selection of videos, posters, infographics and articles to engage with all users, no matter their preferred learning style.
Proofpoint’s engaging materials make their solution extremely popular amongst users. The content itself is designed to promote security best practice and teach users how to detect and report phishing attacks. Each module is available on demand and takes around fifteen minutes to complete, so it’s easy to fit the training in around busy work schedules. Alongside their training library content, Proofpoint’s solution offers phishing simulation to test how effectively users are reacting to phishing threats, and allow administrators to target training in areas where it’s needed. This includes a Phish Alarm feature, which allows users to report phishing attacks to their security team.
Proofpoint also offer a multi-layered package of technical solutions that complement their phishing awareness training. Their heuristic scanning technology helps protect systems against new, unknown threats, as well as known viruses and malware.
Proofpoint’s easy-to-manage training package is an ideal solution for any organizations looking for ongoing security awareness training. It’s also available as a part of Proofpoint’s Essentials package solution, which offers industry-leading technical protection against email security threats.
Barracuda provide a comprehensive range of multi-layered email, cloud and network security solutions. Barracuda PhishLine is their continuous simulation and training package that teaches users how to defend against phishing, smishing, vishing and found physical media attacks. It’s available as part of Barracuda’s Complete Email Protection solution, which also includes Sentinel, which is their AI-based technical solution that defends networks against spear phishing, account takeover and business email compromise (BEC) attacks.
PhishLine exposes users to the latest attack techniques and teaches them how to recognize key indicators to help stop email fraud, data loss and brand damage. PhishLine’s simulation content is fully customizable so that organizations can tailor the training to the specific attacks they’re facing. A built-in workflow engine allows you to deliver training as soon as it’s needed, so that you can send training invitations to employees based on how they reacted to simulated phishing campaigns.
PhishLine also includes a built-in “Phish Reporting” button that employees can use to instantly flag suspicious emails with their IT department. This feature works seamlessly with the training itself to tie in reporting, so that organizations can target training towards those who need it.
Barracuda PhishLine’s multi-lingual training content is updated daily to equip organizations with the resources they need to tackle evolving phishing attacks. It can be used either alone or in tandem with Barracuda’s technical email security solutions, and is an ideal program for smaller organizations and MSPs looking for effective phishing protection.
Cofense offer highly effective training campaigns designed to improve employees’ awareness of, and resilience against, phishing attacks. Alongside their phishing awareness training, they offer a technical security solution that combines human detection with automated response, allowing organizations to detect and block attacks in a matter of minutes.
Cofense’s PhishMe provides extensive security awareness training that conditions users to identify and react to phishing attacks though scenario-based simulations, videos and infographics. Each simulation is fully customizable so that organizations can target their employees’ training towards specific threats that they’re facing. Cofense combines awareness training with ‘Cofense Reporter’, an add-on button that users can click to report suspicious emails to the help desk from directly within their email client. This encourages users to click on the “Report phish” button and flag the threat, rather than fall for it. This button is compatible with Outlook, Gmail and IBM Notes. The Reporter allows administrators to monitor program performance and track resilience to phishing.
To help manage these user reports, Cofense Triage combines human and artificial intelligence to distinguish between genuine threats and false alarms reported via the “Report phish” button. It then isolates any threats. Security teams can then use the Cofense Vision tool to quickly search for and quarantine malicious emails from all user inboxes. Cofense provide effective protection for any organization wanting to combat phishing by training their employees to report attacks directly.
Infosec are one of the fastest growing security awareness providers. They provide skills training and certification, as well as a strong offering of training programs for employees. IQ is Infosec’s combined anti-phishing simulation, security awareness CBT and role-based training. Delivered as a 12-month program, it inspires employees to adopt best practices and become a powerful line of defense against phishing attacks.
With IQ PhishSim, security teams can build customized phishing campaigns from an expansive template library to teach employees how to tackle the most dangerous threats they’re facing. New templates are added to the library weekly to keep organizations on top of new and adapting threats. If an employee clicks on a simulated phishing link, they’re automatically directed to a brief training module that highlights where they went wrong, so that training is delivered immediately after the mistake is made. IQ PhishSim also includes PhishNotify, an email reporting plugin that allows users to flag suspicious emails on any device. The plugin records reported simulations for learner-level reporting, and quarantines real threats. These quarantined emails are then prioritized automatically to reduce analysis time and organize responses according to threat level.
Infosec’s phishing awareness training and simulation solution is constantly growing and diversifying to offer tailored variations across all individual learning topics. Their solutions were originally intended for larger enterprise companies, but have evolved to meet the needs of any sized organization so that smaller businesses can also access their range of training, scaled to fit their need.
Inspired eLearning (IeL) offer enterprise security awareness and compliance training. IeL’s training materials are available in customizable product packages, and their app allows users to access content whenever it suits them. PhishProof is IeL’s phishing awareness training solution. It was the first anti-phishing solution to provide all four phishing method simulations (phishing, vishing, smishing and USB baiting) in one platform.
PhishProof allows organizations to test, train, measure and improve their phishing awareness and preparedness in one all-encompassing experience. The program starts with a Baseline Phishing Campaign, which provides users with a Phishing Preparedness Score at the beginning of their training. As users complete more training and are subjected to more simulations, their Preparedness Score is re-evaluated so that their can easily measure their progress. Admins can schedule simulation campaigns to run with randomized templates, or customize them to target their organization’s particular needs. Each campaign can be tailored in terms of the kind of phish sent (URL, attachment, form submissions) and the level of difficulty (easy, medium, hard). If a user is successfully phished, PhishProof automatically enrols them on the relevant training module.
PhishProof also offer inbuilt phishing reporting in the form of PhishHook. This Outlook plugin allows users to flag suspicious messages, rewarding them for detecting simulations but also alerting the security team to suspected attacks from external sources.
IeL’s PhishProof solution is an ideal program for any organization looking for comprehensive training across all four phishing methods. Their app and customizability ensure that their content is accessible for organizations of any size, and their multilingual support offer enables accessibility for diverse employee populations.
KnowBe4 are a market leader in phishing awareness training and simulations, both in terms of revenue and customer count. With a focus on innovation, KnowBe4 put user engagement at the forefront of their security awareness solutions. Because of this, their training library contains a huge variety of materials, including videos, games and quizzes. KnowBe4 also offer training specifically for management and system administrators.
KnowBe4’s solution comprises a selection of free tools and extensive purchasable training materials. Organizations can test their employee’s baseline awareness with a free simulated phishing attack, and report suspicious content through KnowBe4’s Phish Alert button. The button is compatible with Outlook, Exchange, Microsoft 365 and G Suite. If an organization invests in KnowBe4s full Phishing console, the button will also track whether employees report simulated phishing emails. This allows administrators to see which users are falling for phishing attempts. The console includes access to thousands of resources and training materials, as well as comprehensive training reporting to ensure that all users are successfully completing both the training modules and the simulated phishing campaigns.
KnowBe4’s solution is aimed at small- to mid-sized organizations looking to tackle the threat of phishing with extensive employee training. Note that, for a comprehensive user experience, it’s useful for network administrators to have some prior knowledge of their selected awareness topics to be able to effectively build these topics into their curriculum.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a form of cyber-attack in which a malicious actor aims to persuade or trick unsuspecting users into take a specific action that will benefit the attacker. Often, this will involve tricking them into handing over sensitive details such as bank accounts or social security numbers. Alternatively, attackers may send a malicious link or file that will install malware on a user’s device. These attacks usually take a “scatter gun” approach and target hundreds and thousands of accounts at once.
How Does Security And Awareness Training Help?
Security And Awareness Training (SAT) is beneficial as it teaches users how to identify a threat and how to respond. In order to trick users, phishing attacks are constantly evolving and adapting. This means that you cannot learn a list of phishing attacks, and then be safe. Instead, you must be vigilant and naturally suspicious of emails that encourage you to act.
SAT solutions explain common indicators of compromise (IOCs) and train users on what to look for. This means that when they encounter a new attack type, they already have the skillset to identify a dangerous message.
SAT is also useful as it reveals the repercussions of falling for a phishing attack. This is helpful as it means that users can understand what’s at stake. Without this, it can be hard to understand the significance of something as simple as clicking on a link. When users know what’s at risk, they are more likely to act responsibly and cautiously.
What Are The Different Types Of Phishing Attacks?
There is no definite list of all the phishing attack types that exist as they are constantly evolving. That being said, there are some common forms that we see again and again.
- Vishing is a form of phishing that uses voice calls to trick users – hence the V in Vishing. These can be very convincing as the attackers can respond to our questions and prey on our worries.
- Spear Phishing is a targeted form of attack. Spoofed websites and branded content may be used to give the impression that the demands are real.
- Whaling is an even more specific form of attack. In this case, the target is a high ranking, often C-level, member of an organization. This attack takes more effort on the attacker’s part, but the payoff can be much greater.