Why the Most Effective Phishing Awareness Training Methods Are Personalized

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As the world’s digital transformation process rushes on, attempts to hack into businesses and steal data are keeping pace. Now that almost every company is digitalized and we all spend more time online, hackers and malicious actors see more opportunities to try to catch us with our guard down.

We’re in a new era of cyber-warfare, with the result that every large corporation, governmental organization, and anyone who works with them can expect to be the target of coordinated attacks. Fortunately, cybersecurity technology is keeping pace, but that still leaves one issue – phishing attacks on employees.

Phishing attacks deliberately target employees because malicious actors know that they are the weakest link. It only takes one moment of distraction for an employee to click on a phony link or open an infected attachment, and you could be looking at a serious data breach.

Recent research found that approximately one out of every five employees is taken in by phishing emails. That’s why so many companies are investing in phishing awareness training. Your employees need to learn how to recognize a phishing email and practice to learn how to detect fake links.

Generic, one-size-fits-all phishing awareness training isn’t enough in this day and age. To feel confident that your company is as protected as possible against phishing scams, you need personalized training.

Personalized training meets employees at their level of awareness

Different employees have different levels of sophistication and varying points of digital awareness. Some of them may be “serial clickers” who need repeated practice before they remember not to click on the link, while others might be naturally skeptical and are harder to take in with a fake link or phishing scam.

If you put all of them through the same training experience and send them test emails with the same frequency, you’ll either annoy those who are more suspicious and harder to deceive, or leave those who are more vulnerable without enough practice.

Personalized phishing training, including individualized practice emails, ensures that each employee reaches the same level of awareness, no matter where they began.

Personalized training counters personalized attacks

As phishing attempts get ever more sophisticated, our training has to keep up. Today’s hackers exploit personal data that they find online and take advantage of every crisis to play on our anxieties.

Phishing emails may use the recipient’s first name, the names of their close relatives, and/or financial or health details as “bait,” as well as customizing emails according to the recipient’s role, age, and cultural background.

That’s why phishing training has to be personalized too. You need to prepare employees to receive attacks that seem like they “must be” genuine, so they can recognize their own weak points and be ready to react appropriately.

Personalized training has a greater impact

When you personalize training programs – whether they are for phishing awareness, professional training, or corporate culture – you permit each individual to learn in the way that is most effective for their learning styles.

They can choose their preferred learning method, like through video, text, interactive learning, etc. and set their own pace. In this way, personalized training boosts engagement while also setting your employees up for success.

Instead of struggling to learn in an unfamiliar manner or keep up with training that’s going too fast, or switching off because it’s going too slowly, your employees will be interested, stimulated, and remember more.

Personalized training can be just in time

Sending “fake” phishing emails is an important part of training employees to recognize when real ones cross their path. But these training simulations are more effective when you send them at the right times.

If the entire company receives a phishing simulation at the same time, they’ll alert each other and the training won’t be as effective

Now that flexible and hybrid working is widespread, you can’t expect your employees to all be working at the same time. You want to send at least some training emails at times when the employee won’t be expecting them and they’re more likely to let their guard down.

Personalized training reaches all your employees

It’s no longer realistic to expect that generic company-wide phishing training will be effective for all your employees.

If simulated phishing emails are too hard to identify, your employees will wonder if you were just trying to trip them up, but if they are too easy, employees will grow over-confident and be more likely to fail the next time.

You want to make sure that every single employee has their capabilities tested, so that nobody slips through the net and doesn’t receive the right kind of phishing training. Personalized phishing simulations allow you to feel confident that everyone in the organization has been training and tested appropriately.

Phishing awareness training needs to up its game

Now that hackers are sending sophisticated, personalized phishing emails and the stakes are higher than ever, your phishing awareness training has got to keep up. By using personalized phishing training, you can send simulations at the right time and in the right style for each employee, help them learn in ways that boost memory retention, and prepare them for the detailed, personalized emails that are likely to come their way.

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