Creating an Effective Phishing Awareness Program: 7 Essential Questions to Answer

Creating an Effective Phishing Awareness Program: 7 Essential Questions to Answer

What is Phishing?

Phishing refers to a malicious practice where individuals or organizations attempt to deceive and trick others into revealing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or personal data. It is typically carried out through fraudulent emails, instant messages, or deceptive websites that appear to be legitimate and trustworthy.

Phishing - Phishing Awareness Program

Phishing attacks commonly revolve around the act of impersonating trustworthy entities such as banks, online payment processors, or well-known websites, employing diverse strategies to deceive the individuals they target. These type of cybercrimes are carried out on individuals as well as organizations and considered to be more effective than any other type of attacks

What is Phishing Awareness Programme?

Phishing awareness training is continual education delivered to employees to assist in comprehending how phishing works, how to spot the telltale indications of an attack, and what secure measures they should take if they believe they have been targeted.

Many organizations and businesses conduct regular phishing awareness training to prevent users from compromising their credentials, downloading malicious attachments or sending sensitive information to an impersonator.

Why is Phishing Awareness Program Important?

As phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated day by day breaking the misconception that they are easy to detect and that only non-technical people would fall victim to such attack. Phishing attacks and mails looks so legit that it is very hard to differentiate even for tech experts. These attacks cannot be stopped just by having strong security infrastructure, unless the minds of each employee and individuals are trained to differentiate such attacks.

Phishing awareness programs and Security awareness training are essential to employees and individuals to prevent falling for such attacks and to stay updated about the ever evolving tactics the attackers carry out to extract information from users or any individuals. Phishing is considered as one of the major threat to cybersecurity in these past few years.

Phishing Awareness Programme

Phishing awareness programs must be carried out on a regular basics so that employees and users will be aware of the changing phishing landscapes and be cautious when any messages or email received from unknown or known users requesting for internal or sensitive information.

What are the different types of Awareness Programs

Phishing Awareness programs can be carried out using different types of methods, formats and techniques. Below are the most common ones.

Computer Based Phishing Awareness training

Computer based training is pretty much computer courses which is offered to employees. This is also a type of E-learning course offered to employees to keep them updated about the phishing attacks.

Computer-based phishing training involves participants accessing training modules or courses via web-based platforms or learning management systems. These modules utilize a multimedia approach, integrating text, images, videos, interactive quizzes, and simulations to effectively engage learners and promote comprehension.

The core components and characteristics of computer-based phishing training encompass:

Flexible learning pace: Participants have the freedom to complete training modules at their preferred speed, enabling them to learn comfortably and adapt to their schedules.

Tailored content: Training materials can be customized to address specific industry requirements, organizational policies, or the demographics of the learners, ensuring relevance and practicality.

Interactive phishing simulations: Computer-based training often incorporates engaging simulations that mirror real-world scenarios, challenging participants to identify phishing attempts, make appropriate decisions, and learn from any errors within a safe learning environment.

Assessing knowledge: Quizzes or assessments are integrated into the training modules to evaluate participants’ comprehension of the material and measure their progress.

Simulated phishing Exercise

The simulated phishing exercise the employees get practical experience of how phishing is carried out and how to identify such attacks.

During a simulated phishing exercise, organizations frequently collaborate with dedicated cybersecurity teams or employ specialized software tools to craft and execute authentic phishing campaigns. These campaigns revolve around sending simulated phishing emails to employees, aiming to deceive them into engaging with malicious links, divulging sensitive information, or undertaking actions that might jeopardize security.

Simulated phishing Exercise

This is usually done by replicating well-crafted emails of popular organizations such as Amazon, Google, Netflix etc. which leads users to a login page where the user inputs are monitored by the attackers.

The objectives of a simulated phishing exercise encompass:

  1. Evaluating awareness levels: Through the distribution of simulated phishing emails, organizations can assess the proficiency of employees in identifying phishing indicators like suspicious email addresses, grammar mistakes, or requests for sensitive information.
  2. Identifying vulnerabilities: The exercise aids in the detection of potential weaknesses within an organization’s security infrastructure, policies, or employees’ knowledge. By scrutinizing employees’ responses and actions, organizations can pinpoint areas that necessitate improvement.
  3. Strengthening education and training: Simulated phishing exercises offer valuable learning opportunities for employees to encounter lifelike phishing attempts in a controlled setting. These exercises serve as educational moments, enabling organizations to educate employees about the latest phishing techniques and reinforce best practices for recognizing and effectively handling such threats.

You can also run phishing attack simulations on your own by following our guide on how to design a phishing attack simulation in PhishGrid the phishing attack simulation platform.

Classroom Based Training

Classroom based training are traditional way of training employees where power point presentations are majorly used. These type are trainings are provided to all type of employees regardless of the knowledge and seniority. These type of trainings can me more expensive comparing to the other types of training.

During classroom-based phishing awareness training, individuals, such as employees or students, actively participate in interactive sessions facilitated by cybersecurity trainers or instructors. These sessions incorporate a mix of instructional elements, including lectures, group discussions, real-life case studies, and practical exercises, all designed to foster engagement and enhance the learning experience.

The content covered in classroom-based phishing awareness training can vary but commonly includes the following aspects:

  1. Introduction to phishing: Participants learn about the concept of phishing, its prevalence, and the potential risks and consequences associated with falling for phishing scams.
  2. Common phishing techniques: The training provides an overview of common phishing techniques used by attackers, such as deceptive emails, fake websites, social engineering, and phone-based scams.
  3. Recognizing phishing indicators: Participants are taught how to identify suspicious signs and red flags in emails, links, attachments, and websites that may indicate a phishing attempt.
  4. Best practices for email security: The training emphasizes email security measures, including the importance of verifying sender identities, scrutinizing email content, and avoiding clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.

7 Essential Questions to Answer

Assess the requirements and objectives of your organization for phishing awareness training. What are the training’s objectives? What do you intend to accomplish?

  • Begin by understanding the organization’s industry, size, structure, and any specific compliance requirements. This information provides context for designing a tailored training program.
  • Define precise and quantifiable goals for the training program. Illustrative objectives encompass lowering the click rates on phishing emails, enhancing incident reporting, augmenting employee understanding of phishing techniques, and cultivating a culture of heightened security awareness.
  • Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the training program. These metrics could include click rates on simulated phishing emails, the number of reported incidents, employee feedback surveys, or assessments of knowledge retention.

Identify your target audience. Who will receive the instruction? What is the extent of their computer literacy and expertise?

  • Determine the relevant groups or individuals from within the organization who will engage in the training. Take into account factors like job responsibilities, departments, and varying levels of security awareness.

Choose a suitable delivery strategy for your instruction. Will classroom education, e-learning, or a combination of both be utilized?

  • Determine the most effective delivery methods for the training program. This could include computer-based modules, classroom sessions, simulated phishing exercises, or a combination of different approaches.
  • Create a timeline for implementing the training program, considering factors such as available resources, employee availability, and any specific deadlines or compliance requirements.

Develop the content of your phishing awareness training. Include information on how to identify phishing schemes, how to avoid being a victim, and what to do if a user falls victim to a phishing assault.

  • Develop training materials that address the organization’s unique requirements. This may involve creating industry-specific examples, incorporating organization-specific policies and procedures, and aligning the content with any regulatory compliance standards.
  • Assess the current level of phishing awareness and security practices within the organization. This evaluation helps identify potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement.

Before distributing training content to your audience, you should test it. Conduct a test run with a small group of workers or volunteers to ensure the effectiveness of the item.

  • Run the approach with smaller group of employees first to assess how effective it is and to asses if it is easy to understand and how real life oriented the material or training is.

Deliver your phishing education program. Provide sufficient time for questions and discussion.

  • Provide time for employees to discuss and also to come up with questions. This can help in widen their knowledge on the phishing attacks rather than only knowing what is mentioned on the content.

Assess the efficacy of your training program. After the course has been presented, gather participant feedback and make any necessary adjustments.

  • Regularly assess the effectiveness of the training program through feedback, evaluations, and incident monitoring. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments, update content, and enhance future iterations of the training.


What is phishing training?

Phishing training refers to educational programs or initiatives designed to educate individuals, typically employees within organizations, about the risks and techniques associated with phishing attacks. The primary objective of phishing training is to enhance participants’ awareness of phishing threats, improve their ability to recognize and respond to phishing attempts, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of falling victim to such attacks.

What is an example phishing?

An example of a phishing attempt could be an email that appears to be from a well-known bank, asking the recipient to update their account information urgently. The email might contain official-looking logos and branding to make it seem legitimate. It may instruct the recipient to click on a link within the email, which leads to a fake website that mimics the bank’s login page. If the recipient enters their username and password on the fake website, the attacker can capture that information and potentially use it for fraudulent purposes.

In this example, the phishing email is designed to deceive the recipient into believing it is a legitimate communication from a trusted institution. The aim is to trick the recipient into providing their confidential information or performing an action that compromises their security. Phishing attacks can take various forms, including emails, text messages, phone calls, or even social media messages, and they often target individuals’ personal or financial information.

How effective is employee phishing training?

Employee phishing training is highly effective in improving an organization’s security and reducing the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks. It enhances awareness and knowledge of phishing techniques, improves detection of suspicious emails, encourages proactive incident reporting, fosters a cybersecurity culture, includes simulated exercises for hands-on experience, and provides ongoing training and reinforcement. While training is valuable, it’s important to note that it doesn’t offer 100% protection. Combining it with other security measures like robust email filtering multi-factor authentication, and anti-phishing software, is essential for comprehensive defense against phishing threats.

What are 3 indicators of phishing?

Common phishing indicators include:
Suspicious email addresses: Phishing emails often come from unfamiliar or suspicious email addresses. Watch out for slight variations or misspellings in the sender’s email address, especially the domain part.
Urgency or fear tactics: Phishing emails create a sense of urgency or fear to pressure you into quick action. They may threaten negative consequences or claim immediate action is needed to prevent harm. Be cautious of emails that demand sensitive information or urge you to click on links without proper verification.
Requests for personal information: Phishing emails often ask for personal or sensitive data like passwords, social security numbers, or credit card details. Legitimate organizations usually don’t request such information via email. Be cautious of emails asking for sensitive data, especially if the request seems unnecessary or unusual.


Creating an effective phishing awareness program involves considering key questions to ensure success. By addressing these questions, organizations can tailor a comprehensive program to meet their needs:

  1. Target audience: Identify participants based on job roles, departments, and security awareness levels.
  2. Objectives: Establish measurable goals, like reducing click rates, improving reporting, or fostering a security-conscious culture.
  3. Training methods: Choose suitable approaches, such as classroom or computer-based training, based on resources and preferences.
  4. Content development: Create engaging content on phishing techniques, red flags, and best practices, customized to industry requirements and policies.
  5. Simulated exercises: Include hands-on phishing simulations for practical experience and improving response skills.
  6. Evaluation and assessment: Implement measures to assess effectiveness, such as quizzes and tracking incident reporting rates.
  7. Ongoing reinforcement: Provide continuous education through reminders, refresher courses, and communication about real-world incidents.

By addressing these aspects, organizations can enhance security, reduce phishing risks, and empower employees as the first line of defense and strengthen it by combining it with other security measures like robust email filtering multi-factor authentication, and anti-phishing service, is essential for comprehensive defense against phishing threats.

Lichumon is an enthusiastic SOC Analyst with a keen interest in exploring the complexities of the dark web and human risk factors in cybersecurity. Despite being early in his career, his eagerness to learn and adapt sets him apart. Balancing vigilance and curiosity, Lichumon navigates the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape with a sense of determination and commitment to continuous learning.