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Phishing simulation campaigns are vital for businesses to test their employee's security awareness and ability to help protect against cyber threats. As cyber threats become more sophisticated and malicious, companies need to stay ahead of the threats and prepare their staff to recognize phishing attacks they may encounter.   

This post provides tips for running an effective phishing simulation training campaign.

How To Run An Effective Phishing Simulation Training Campaign

1. Identify Your Targets

The first step in running a phishing simulation is identifying who you will target in your organization. Include all relevant parties in the simulation to get an accurate picture of how well your organization is prepared to defend against phishing attacks.

Things to consider when identifying your phishing simulation targets are:

  • Top departments targeted
  • Top targeted individuals
  • Frequently lured individuals

2. Design Your Phishing Simulations

Once you have identified your targets, the next step is to create your phishing simulations. This involves creating emails, websites, and other materials that mimic real-world phishing attacks. Make sure to use realistic subject lines, content, and images to ensure the simulation is as close to real-world attacks as possible.

One way to make sure that the scenario is realistic is to copy an actual phishing threat while naturalizing the malicious payload. If you don't have good examples of phishing emails, you can use AI to craft a realistic phishing email or create one based on the following strategies:

It's essential that this scenario is not only realistic but challenging. Simple simulations skew your data and weaken your team's security awareness.

When designing your phishing scenario, you also want to consider your goal of the test and baseline click rates.

3. Send Out Your Simulated Phishing Attack

After you have designed your phishing scenarios, it's time to hit send. Use a secure email system to send out the emails, and ensure you can track who opens the phishing simulation emails and clicks on any links or attachments.

Stagger the send of the simulation to avoid employees tipping off others

When running your campaign, it's important to allow enough time to pass to collect accurate information. Not waiting long enough won't give you accurate information. Try to run your campaign for at least a week.

4. Analyze the Results

When it's time to review the results of the phishing simulation, look for patterns in who opened the emails, the click rate of the links and attachments, and anything else that may help you determine where your organization is vulnerable and what steps you can take to improve your security.

5. Provide Training and Education

Running a campaign may help you identify vulnerabilities, but you also need to provide training and education to your employees after the campaign is complete. Make sure that they understand how to recognize phishing emails and how to report suspicious emails.

Ideally, training will be administered immediately after an individual falls for the phishing simulation. This way, the incident is fresh in their mind, and they can refer back to the email to identify the tells.

For more tips on preparing your users to identify phishing threats, sign up for IRONSCALES Starter.

Jeff Rezabek
Post by Jeff Rezabek
January 10, 2023