Phishing has been a constant threat in cybersecurity, and as technology evolves, so do the tactics employed by cybercriminals. Advanced phishing threats have become increasingly sophisticated, making it more challenging for organizations to detect and thwart them. This post explores how artificial intelligence (AI) and human insights can be combined to effectively defend against advanced phishing threats and enhance your organization's security posture.
How To Use AI and Human Insights to Protect From Advanced Phishing Threat
Understand Your Advanced Phishing Threats
To reach the intended target, advanced phishing threats like Business Email Compromise (BEC) utilize social engineering tactics to bypass traditional email security solutions, like Secure Email Gateways. These social engineering techniques often create a sense of urgency and importance by carrying out impersonation traps.
To build a defense against advanced phishing attacks, you need to analyze your environment to see who is being targeted and the types of attacks that are getting through. For example, a recent Osterman research report, “Defending the Enterprise: The Latest Trends and Tactics in BEC Attacks,” revealed that fake invoices, data theft, and account takeover attacks were the top BEC attack variants during the previous 12 months. The report also revealed that Finance, C-level executives, and IT professionals are the primary targets of these attacks.
To understand what type of attacks are getting through your defenses and are actively sitting in your environment, request our free 90-day scan back tool, which detects advanced email threats hiding in your organization's inbox, even the ones missed by your Secure Email Gateway.
Adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has exploded in popularity since the introduction of ChatGPT. However, using AI for email security has been around for a while. For years, security-conscious organizations have recognized AI's powerful protection and ability to automatically detect and remediate threats in real time—reducing the time, effort, and costs of manually managing phishing threats. The Osterman Research report, "The Business Cost of Phishing," states that IT and security teams spend, on average, 27.5 minutes and $31.32 to handle a single phishing threat.
The effectiveness behind AI-powered email security solutions is that they use different techniques to aid in the detection of advanced phishing threats; these include:
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP algorithms can analyze the content of emails, identifying language patterns and cues that suggest a phishing attempt.
- Image Recognition: AI can analyze images and logos within emails, determining if they are authentic or have been manipulated to resemble a legitimate source.
- Behavioral Analysis: Machine learning can be used to identify user behavior patterns, detecting deviations that may indicate a phishing attempt.
Leverage Human Insights
While AI can significantly improve an organization's ability to detect phishing threats, it isn't enough, as bad actors are constantly evolving their tactics and have since started to leverage AI and deep fake technology to make their attacks more difficult to detect. For this reason, organizations with an effective email security strategy combine AI with human insights.
One key aspect of human insights in phishing detection is security awareness training. Organizations should invest in effective strategies for teaching employees to recognize and respond to phishing threats. Some best practices for user education include:
- Simulated Phishing Attacks: Conducting regular simulated phishing exercises to test employees' ability to identify and report phishing attempts, provide valuable feedback for improvement.
- Personalized Training Content: Tailoring training content to employees' roles and responsibilities, ensures that the material is relevant and engaging.
- Dynamic Email Banners: Customizing in-mail banners with specific warnings and attention-grabbing colors can provide your employees with enough context on how to react to a suspicious email.
- Empower Reporting: Making it easy for your users to report suspicious emails and then providing feedback on what they reported will reinforce the idea that they are a partner in protecting the organization from phishing attacks.
Complete the Cycle
The final step in this multi-layered phishing defense strategy is to create a feedback loop from the human insights to the AI/ML model to make the AI detection stronger and more accurate. One of the secrets behind ChatGPT's success and power is its use of Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) which uses human feedback to train and improve the accuracy of the model. By implementing a multi-layered defense strategy that combines AI and human insights, organizations can effectively address advanced phishing threats.
One way you can deploy the same strategy is to use a complete email security solution like IRONSCALES that combines AI-based phishing threat detection and remediation with simulation testing, awareness training, and crowdsourced threat intelligence into a single platform.
Request a demo to learn more about how IRONSCALES protects enterprise organizations from advanced threats.