October’s security awareness topic is phishing and BEC

Thumbnail of 1 of this month's poster imagesOutline and scope New this month

Socially-engineering people into opening malicious messages, attachments and links has proven an effective way to bypass many technical security controls.  Phishing is a business enterprise, a highly profitable and successful one making this a growth industry.

Just as Advanced Persistent T hreats take malware to a higher level of risk, so Business Email C ompromise puts an even more sinister spin on regular phishing.  With BEC, the social engineering is custom-designed to coerce employees in powerful, trusted corporate roles to compromise their organizations, for example by making unauthorized and inappropriate wire transfers or online payments from corporate bank accounts to accounts controlled by the fraudsters. 

As with ordinary phishing, there is plenty of latitude among the fraudsters behind BEC and other novel forms of social engineering and fraud, and we can expect to see more numerous , sophisticated and costly incidents as a result.  Aggressive dark-side innovation is a particular feature of the challenges in this area, making creative approaches to awareness and training (such as NoticeBored!) even more valuable.  We hope to prompt managers and professionals especially to think through the ramifications of the specific incidents described, generalize the lessons and consider the broader implications. 

We’re doing our best to make the organization future-proof.  It’s a big ask though!  Good luck.

Note: given the topic, perhaps we should have removed all the working hyperlinks from this month’s awareness materials … but instead we hope you and your audiences might think twice before clicking them.  Naturally we claim to be entirely trustworthy, ethical and benevolent professionals with an exemplary record and strong image ... but then we would, wouldn’t we?  So proceed at your own risk!

Learning objectives

October’s security awareness module aims to:

  • Introduce and explain phishing and related threats in straightforward terms, illustrated with examples and diagrams;
  • Expand on the associated information risks and controls, from the dual perspectives of individuals and the organization;
  • Encourage individuals to spot and react appropriately to possible phishing attempts targeting them personally;
  • Encourage workers to spot and react appropriately to phishing and BEC attacks targeting the organization, plus other social engineering attacks, frauds and scams;
  • Stimulate people to think - and most of all act - more securely in a general way, for example being more alert for the clues or indicators of trouble ahead.

Consider your organization’s learning objectives in relation to this topic.  Are there specific concerns in this area, or just a general interest?  Has your organization been used as a phishing lure, maybe, or suffered spear-phishing or BEC incidents?  Do you feel particularly vulnerable in some way, perhaps having narrowly avoided disaster (a near-miss)?  Are there certain business units, departments, functions, teams or individuals that could really do with a knowledge and motivational boost?  Lots to think about this month!

Contents of the module

Contents listing of the phishing awareness module

Contents listing of the phishing awareness module

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What’s next?

Tag along with us on NBlog as we work on the next awareness topic.  In addition to clues about what’s coming up, we share hints and tips on making security awareness more effective.

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