- Date published:
- Author:Brian Wood
Average everyday users are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain.
But, there is good news too:
Awareness training and frequent reminders of common-sense considerations to avoid compromise are highly effective.
Summary article by Paul Mah in FierceCIO and original article by Robert Lemos in eWeek.
Emphasis in red added by me.
Brian Wood, VP Marketing
1 in 5 employees succumb to phishing emails, says new study
According to a recent study by security training firm ThreatSim, an average of 18 percent of messages in a phishing campaign succeed in tricking recipients into clicking on a malicious link. One extremely successful campaign, according to ThreatSim, induced a staggering 72 percent of users to click on a link.
The fact that the phishing attacks have met such a high success rate is hardly a surprising one. Indeed, an unrelated penetration test campaign managed to fool even security experts at a government agency after some preparatory work to create a fake social media profile. If even highly trained personnel working on the forefront of security can fall prey, how much more will normal users be tricked?
It’s obvious companies should sign up for security training, though ThreatSim says it is not a full solution for protection from phishing. As reported by eWeek, “Companies that trained their employees at least monthly cut their click-through rate to 2 percent, far lower than the 19 percent for companies that trained quarterly.”
Phishing Messages Trick One in Five Employees Into Clicking: Survey
Phishing attacks are nothing new, but they are increasingly used by attackers as a way to exploit a vulnerability common to all businesses: their employees. In a study released Nov. 4, security-training firm ThreatSim found that an average of 18 percent of messages in a phishing campaign successfully induced recipients to click on a malicious link. One extremely successful campaign induced 72 percent of users to click on the link, according to the report, which was based on the company’s anonymized customer data.
Training does help but is not a panacea, according to ThreatSim. Companies that trained their employees at least monthly cut their click-through rate to 2 percent, far lower than the 19 percent for companies that trained quarterly, according to the report.
The actual message content, known as the lure in phishing circles, makes all the difference for a convincing phishing attack. Messages that attempt to convince the user that they won something—”Microsoft lottery winner”—are less effective than those that use the specter of loss—”Thanks for your $500 purchase at Amazon.” In addition, targeted attacks, such as a fake employee discount using the worker’s company name, are more effective than more general lures.
More than 80 percent of recipients who opened a phishing email clicked on the link. In addition, most users who click on a phishing link also have a computer with vulnerable versions of popular software.
Overall, 71 percent of users were vulnerable to exploitation through a common piece of software, such as Adobe Acrobat, Oracle’s Java, Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight, according to ThreatSim’s data. Most companies (57 percent) rated the impact of a phishing attack as “minimal,” but investigating and cleaning victims’ PCs do consume resources, ThreatSim stated in the report.
“In talking to security managers within our customer base, we often hear just how disruptive even a minimal impact phishing attack can be due to how frequent they occur, the level of IT staff time spent in responding [to do] endpoint forensics, and employee downtime [as they wait for] account reset(s) and system restoration,” the report stated.