End Users Incorrectly Answered One in Four Questions About Phishing, Underscoring the Need for Ongoing Education to Significantly Reduce Risk
Proofpoint, Inc., a leading cybersecurity and compliance company, released its fourth annual Beyond the Phish report, which examines end user understanding of a broad range of cybersecurity topics and best practices. The report features analysis of data related to nearly 130 million cybersecurity questions and offers insights into employee knowledge levels across 14 categories, 16 industries, and more than 20 commonly used department classifications.
“Cybercriminals are experts at gathering personal information to launch highly targeted and convincing attacks against individuals,” said Amy Baker, vice president of Security Awareness Training Strategy and Development for Proofpoint. “Implementing ongoing and effective security awareness training is a necessary foundational pillar when building a strong culture of security. Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices is the best way to empower users to understand how to protect their and their employer’s data, making end users a strong last line of defense against cyber attackers.”
Phishing remains a leading concern for organizations worldwide. Overall, one in every four questions in the “Identifying Phishing Threats” and “Protecting Data Throughout Its Lifecycle” categories were answered incorrectly. The 2019 Beyond the Phish report signifies that while employees have become more familiar with the hallmarks of phishing attacks and the need to protect data, knowledge gaps remain that cybercriminals can exploit. As part of its 2019 State of the Phish report, Proofpoint found that 83 percent of global organizations experienced phishing attacks in 2018, underscoring the urgent need to educate end users.
Additional 2019 Beyond the Phish key findings include:
- Communications was the best performing department, with end users correctly answering 84 percent of questions.
- Finance was the best performing industry, with end users answering 80 percent of all questions correctly.
- End users in the Insurance industry delivered the best performance in three of the 14 categories analyzed, specifically excelling in the “Avoiding Ransomware Attacks” category.
- Customer Service, Facilities, and Security were among the worst performing departments, incorrectly answering an average of 25 percent of cybersecurity questions asked. As these are respondent-defined department designations, the Security department could include both physical security and cybersecurity.
- End users in the Education and Transportation industries struggled the most, on average, answering 24 percent of questions incorrectly across all categories.
- Hospitality employees scored the lowest in three categories, including “Physical Security Risks,” in which 22 percent of questions were answered incorrectly.
“Organizations need to be persistent and thorough in their security awareness training programs considering the end user behaviors that influence and impact overall security postures. This annual report reiterates the need to go beyond the use of phishing tests to evaluate end user susceptibility and cyber threat knowledge,” continued Baker. “It’s important to remember that not all security incidents stem from an attack; many issues result from limited awareness and poor security practices. Our research has shown a significant increase in safe behaviors when organizations take a well-managed, continuous approach to training across all cyber topics.”
Companies worldwide trust Proofpoint to educate their employees on the latest cyber threats and best practices. Effective education is imperative as cybercriminals have shifted away from attacking infrastructure and are targeting individuals, making a people-centric security approach essential. Proofpoint Security Awareness Training solutions use personalized cybersecurity training based on its industry-leading threat intelligence to help organizations deliver the right cybersecurity awareness training to the right people at the right time.