Phishing assessment is the authorised testing process that involves testing end-users’ susceptibility to conduct attacker requested actions. Qualified cybersecurity experts carry out a simulated phishing campaign sent to all system users in a select control group or an organisation.

What is a Phishing Attack?

A phishing attack is the large-scale dissemination of electronic communications such as emails designed by hackers to trick people into revealing their private details such as credit card information and account passwords[1]. It is among the top threats to companies and organisations of all industries and sizes.

These security breaches often result in degraded utilisation of hardware, loss of network functionality, significant damage to an organisation’s reputation, and more. Phishing emails lead to threats entering systems and networks, thus providing hackers with the power to manipulate the system and continue their attack.

Why do Hackers use phishing?

Since the weakest link in any security chain is people, hackers use these unsuspecting people to compromise a system or network. Phishing allows hackers to target many people at once and steal their valuable information.

Due to the many phishing tools available on the internet these days, hackers who are not highly skilled in hacking can conduct successful attacks on networks and systems.[2]

What Does a Phishing Assessment Include?

A phishing assessment has three different essential components:

Test

Here, qualified cybersecurity experts test a company’s or organisation’s employees by conducting an authorised simulated phishing attack. It helps improve the employees’ awareness of ongoing hackers’ threats by creating a security culture in your company or organisation.

Train

It is the next step after testing an organisation’s or company’s employees. In this stage, cybersecurity experts train the employees on areas that they need to improve on to minimise the risk of hackers compromising the system or network. Cybersecurity experts train the employees in several different ways that equip them with the necessary knowledge to prevent future phishing attacks.

Repeat

It is advisable to conduct these authorised simulated phishing attacks regularly. It will help alert the employees about new ways that hackers may have come up with to compromise the system or network.[3]

The repeats are beneficial as they will help avoid future attacks due to ignorance on the part of the company or organisation. The recommended time for conducting these authorised simulated phishing attacks is monthly.

Types of Phishing Assessment Services

There are many types of phishing assessment services offered by cybersecurity experts. The main ones are:

Spear Phishing-as-a-service

Spear phishing-as-a-service is a phishing attack that is highly targeted, and hackers use it to compromise a specific person, usually a high privilege user such as a system administrator. It is an assessment conducted to test an agreed target’s susceptibility to reveal sensitive information such as credit card details or account information.

Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise is a phishing form that involves authorised ethical hackers impersonating a senior executive of a company or organisation. Its aim is to trick a supply chain partner, customer, or employee into wiring payments for services or goods to an alternate bank account.

Phishing-as-a-service

Phishing is perhaps the most common form of cyber-attacks. In this assessment service, authorised, ethical hackers create emails that imitate trusted persons’ emails in an organisation or company.

They then use these emails to trick users into clicking malicious attachments and links that reveal the system’s sensitive information.[4] It is a necessary test that evaluates phishing email scams awareness among employees.

The Benefits of Phishing Assessment

There are many benefits associated with phishing assessments that companies and organisations can use to their advantage. They include:

Helps Organisations Understand Their Risk of Compromise

When organisations have cybersecurity experts conduct phishing assessment tests on their systems and networks, they can gain insights into their risk of compromise. They use an intelligence-driven approach that offers valuable information on how hackers could compromise highly sensitive information to damage the organisation’s reputation.

Strengthens and Organisation’s Security Posture

Phishing assessment helps organisations improve on their defences against cybersecurity attacks, especially phishing attacks. Qualified cybersecurity experts provide valuable information that allows organisations to take the appropriate actions and measure their improvement as time goes on.

Helps Improve Cyber Security Awareness

Phishing assessment services allow employees to undergo full phishing attack training to become more aware of cybersecurity threats. Besides, it equips them with valuable information to help an organisation stay safe by preventing any potential cyber-attacks on the system or network.

Helps Organisation Evaluate Their Defences

With the phishing assessment services, organisations can test their processes and personnel, thus having an insight into the employees’ ability to identify phishing attacks. It also offers insight into an organisation’s response process, highlighting where the organisation needs to improve.

As we have seen above, there are many ways that hackers can conduct cyber-attacks to compromise an organisation’s systems and network. To prevent cybersecurity attacks, it is crucial to regularly perform a phishing assessment and train your employees on ways to avoid falling prey to these attacks.

References

[1] https://www.rootshellsecurity.net/phishing-assessments/

[2] https://digitalguardian.com/blog/social-engineering-attacks-common-techniques-how-prevent-attack

[3] https://www.knowbe4.com/what-is-social-engineering/

[4] https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/phishing