According to the FBI, email scams cost businesses around the world as much as $12 billion a year. In the past two years, losses have increased by 136%. All 50 states and around 150 countries are known targets of these scams. Criminals that seek to steal data or hold it for ransom know who they’re targeting, what they’re doing and just how to get the average employee to open Pandora’s box.
No business is too large or too small to be impacted by phishing scams. And your employees are your first line of defense against these often clever and manipulative schemes. But getting employees to understand the risks and take email scams seriously is a major undertaking. Get employees invested in protecting customer data with these tips.
1. Help Them Understand Why They’re a Potential Target
Criminals target the average employee because they know that few expect to be the target of an email scam. Wouldn’t criminals target someone “higher up”? They may not understand just how much power they have and how easy it is to accidentally compromise the system.
2. Convey How Important They Are in the Fight Against Cybercriminals
In the modern office, every employee is a security guard protecting customer and company data. The door they’re protecting is a virtual one. Clicking suspicious links, visiting questionable websites on company computers or downloading something are just three ways they can throw the door wide open for criminals.
Acknowledge that every employee is a stakeholder in the company. They depend on you for employment. It’s everyone’s job to protect what’s “Ours”.
3. Be Understanding/Realistic About Falling for Email Scams
Yes, cybersecurity is serious business. An employee mistake could cost you millions. But at the same time, many people are so ashamed when they fall for something. They fail to notify their manager because of embarrassment or fear of losing their job. When a breach occurs, IT security must act fast to reduce the damage.
Email scams are intentionally clever. And they’re always changing. Criminals do their homework and are skilled at what they do. Anyone, in a momentary lapse of judgment, can fall for them. Talk to employees openly in a compassionate way that still relays the seriousness. They need to contact someone (usually IT security) immediately. Coordinate with IT security management to ensure that everyone has the right contact information to report an event.
4. Convey What’s At-stake When Email Scams Strike
It’s not hard to find stories about companies online that are similar to yours. If they are competitors or other brands that your employees know that’s even better. Don’t let phishing scams seem abstract. It happens to real companies and the costs are great. Share the stories as well as the financial and trust loss incurred.
5. Break-Through When People “Zone Out”
Try to break through security training fatigue through storytelling and imagery. If your security training involves reading a security policy each year and checking a box, it’s time to rethink how you convey critical information.
6. Present Common Scams
While criminals are constantly changing tactics, it’s easy to learn the tell-tale signs of a scam that may apply regardless of how cybercriminals try to mix things up. We’ve come a long way since the Nigerian Prince scheme, but criminals today use similar strategies to build trust, cause panic or create complacency to get us to take a desired action.
7. Create a Partnership with Your IT Security Team
Whether you’re working with a managed IT company or keep your IT in-house, the IT security team is great resource. They’ll have all the information on current risks, tactics and what you need to do you protect yourself. Tap into this wealth of knowledge. Ask them to do an email scam presentation for your team or set up a webinar in the conference room if they can’t do it in person. Getting the experts involved shows employees this is serious.