The first step in defending your business against phishing attacks is in knowing that these attacks exist. According to a study by Proofpoint, almost 90% of organizations around the world experienced spear phishing attempts last year, and 55% of those attempts were successful. The good news is that we’re learning more about this type of threat. 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.
The Top 10 Phishing Awareness Training and Simulations Solutions includes
- Barracuda PhishLine, Cofense PhishMe, Global Learning Systems, Inspired eLearning, Infosec, KnowBe4, Ninjio, Proofpoint, Sans Institute and Terranova
Proofpoint Security Awareness Training
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Gartner Magic Quadrant leader, testing and training available in 35 languages, up to date simulated phishing campaigns modelled on the the latest attacks uncovered by Proofpoint
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.
Continuous training and simulation testing to defend against phishing, vishing, smishing and physical media attacks
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.
Powerful scenario-based security awareness training and phishing simulation
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. Thanks to their powerful anti-phishing solution, analyst firm Gartner have declared Cofense leaders in security awareness and computer-based training.
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.
Global Learning Systems
Scenario-based multi-media awareness training and powerful phishing simulations with performance tracking
Global Learning Systems (GLS) offer a strong range of security awareness training solutions. All of their products are scalable and highly customizable, so can be tailored to an organization’s specific needs. GLS’s training solutions are all packaged in user-friendly bundles that are delivered via their Learning Management System (LMS) for ease of program creation, delivery and tracking.
GLS’s phishing awareness training uses interactive, scenario-based content to teach users about how attacks work and how to handle them. Gamification and reward elements ensure that the training experience is engaging for users, which leads to higher levels of retention and understanding. There are four parts to GLS’s training solution. The Essentials course trains and tests users on how to spot phishing attacks. The Best Practice modules present users with real-life phishing scenarios, so that they can apply what they’ve learned in a safe environment. The anti-phishing videos use powerful graphics to present users with bitesize information on phishing and ransomware, and how to react to threats. Finally, GLS’s SecurePhish simulation tool tests users’ responses to targeted phishing tests and presents them with relevant follow-up training. Admins can also use the tool to track user performance and generate reports based on test results.
GLS’s content can be accessed on smartphones and tablets as well as traditional desktops, which is ideal for digital organizations and those with a high number of remote workers. Because all of their content is scalable and customizable, GLS’s solution is suitable for organizations of any size who are looking for a long-term training roadmap with ongoing reinforcement.
Comprehensive phishing, vishing, smishing and USB baiting training in one platform, tailored simulations and inbuilt reporting tools
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.
Long-term awareness training programs, custom-built simulation campaigns and a phish reporting plugin
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.
Expansive, market-leading training materials and simulated attacks built on employees' baseline awareness
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.
Innovative, engaging video-based training content with elements of gamification
NINJIO’s cybersecurity awareness training solution uses punchy, bite-sized videos or “episodes” based on real-life attacks to emotionally engage users. Each episode is written by a member of the Writers Guild of America, known for writing and producing episodes for CSI:NY and Hawaii Five-O. The high-quality narratives are released once a month to keep cybersecurity at the forefront of users’ minds and gradually embed best practices in their own behavior. In addition to their video content, NINJIO also produce insightful blogs, should users wish to learn more about topics covered in the monthly episodes.
Each of NINJIO’s episodes is based on a relevant threat currently being faced by organizations around the world. Episodes are gamified, and the competition involved encourages user engagement. Employees who complete the training quickly and pass the accompanying quiz first time earn more points. Those with the highest amount of points secure a top spot on NINJIO’s leader board. The animated episodes are available in two animation styles: “anime”, NINJIO’s signature Hollywood-style cartoon approach, and “corporate”, which uses a more conservative palette and places characters in typical business settings. Both styles use the same script and voice over – the only difference is the feel of the illustrations themselves, so organizations can choose a style that best fits their own corporate brand.
NINJIO’s unique training solution is engaging, fun and relevant. Delivered through their own cloud-hosted LMS or as a SCORM package, it’s extremely accessible. NINJIO’s solution is well-suited to any organization that want to create a culture of awareness amongst their employees. However, it’s important to note that this solution is purely content-based; it doesn’t include phishing simulations. Because of their success, NINJIO’s content videos have been licensed by other security awareness training platforms for use in their programs.
Video and quiz-based training content with a learning path structure, paired with customizable simulation campaigns
SANS Institute’s deep knowledge of IT security management and adult-learning principles cause it to be a major player in the training market for IT security professionals. They offer world-renowned certification and degree programs, and their Security Awareness Training Platform leverages this wealth of experience to provide high-quality training materials and phishing simulation tools. SANS are content-focused, and their program is built around multi-step learning paths that are easy for users to digest.
Each training module comprises video modules that cover a range of cybersecurity topics, including anti-phishing awareness. The videos are a combination of animations, host-led animations and live action shorts. SANS Institute supply end-of-module quizzes to consolidate user’s learning, and there are also a selection of games available to help users really engage with the content. SANS’ phishing simulation campaigns are highly customizable, allowing security teams to target specific groups in the organization with suspicious emails. They offer a library of realistic templates, as well as a reporting tool so that admins can track how well people are performing in the tests.
SANS Institute’s solution offers full voice-overs in 31 languages, making it extremely accessible. Don’t be put off by the fact that SANS are recognized for their technical training; their end-user training is designed to be engaging for all end users, not just those of a technical background. Because of this, SANS’ solution is a good option for those seeking comprehensive video-based awareness training.
Tailored simulations and highly interactive training materials instructionally designed for learner engagement, all fully available in 40 languages
Terranova Security’s phishing awareness solution aims to cultivate a security mindset amongst end users. Their solution is based on the “knowledge, support, motivation” behavior change theory and, as such, is built with user engagement and support in mind. For this reason, they support each customer in a consultative manner to make sure that the content is fully tailored to their organizational needs, and the needs of specific groups of learners.
Terranova’s training library includes highly interactive, gamified and graphic-rich content that’s been instructionally designed for optimal learner engagement. Organizations can build their own training programs on the Terranova LMS, from course-level all the way down to bitesize micro learning. Terranova’s phishing simulation platform allows security teams to send targeted, simulated emails to test learners understanding of what they’ve covered in the training. Finally, visual reporting tools can identify both high-risk employees based on their simulation results, and which users have completed their training successfully. This allows administrator to identify where more training is needed.
Terranova are well established in Canada and the US, but their materials are all available in 40 languages, including narration, and are fully scalable. This means that their phishing awareness solution is suitable for any organization, no matter their location, looking for a highly tailored and instructionally designed phishing awareness training and simulation solution.