Why Phishing Filters Fail and Phishing Simulation Can Help

Feb 13, 2023

Phishing is a widespread and constantly evolving threat affecting individuals and organizations. It is a type of cyber attack that involves criminals posing as trusted entities in order to trick people into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords and financial information. Despite the widespread use of spam filters, phishing attacks continue to be successful and increasingly sophisticated, leaving many organizations searching for effective solutions.

One reason why phishing filters fail to stop phishing emails is that attackers are constantly evolving their tactics. For example, they may use malicious links or attachments, fake login pages, and even impersonate trusted sources to bypass security measures. As a result, phishing filters often struggle to keep up with the latest tactics and may allow malicious emails to slip through.

Another reason why phishing filters are not always effective is that they are based on rules and patterns that can be easily bypassed by attackers. For example, filters may be set up to block emails containing certain keywords, but attackers can simply modify their content to avoid detection. This can result in false positives, where legitimate emails are blocked, or false negatives, where malicious emails are allowed to pass through.

We can summaries it as five reasons why Email/Phishing Filters Fail

  1. Evasion Tactics: Phishing attackers are constantly changing their tactics to evade detection by email filters. For example, they may use images instead of text, change domains frequently, or use encrypted links. This makes it difficult for filters to accurately identify phishing emails.
  2. Limited Context: Email filters typically operate on individual emails, so they may not have enough context to accurately identify phishing emails. For example, a phishing email that appears benign when viewed in isolation may be part of a larger, coordinated attack.
  3. User Error: Email filters are not perfect and can make mistakes. Users can also contribute to the problem by marking legitimate emails as spam, which can cause the filter to become less effective over time.
  4. Difficulty in Keeping Up with the Evolving Threat Landscape: Phishing attacks are constantly evolving, and it can be challenging for email filters to keep up with the latest tactics and techniques used by attackers.
  5. False Negatives: Email filters can sometimes miss phishing emails, even if they are using the latest techniques and rules. This is because phishing attacks are constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to stay ahead of the attackers.

So, what can organizations do to better protect themselves against phishing attacks?

One effective solution is phishing simulation and awareness training.

Phishing simulation involves sending simulated phishing emails to employees to test their ability to identify and avoid these types of attacks. This helps to train employees to recognize the signs of a phishing email, such as a suspicious sender, an urgent request for information, or a strange attachment.

For example, a phishing simulation might involve sending an email that appears to be from a trusted source, such as a bank or a government agency, and asking the recipient to click on a link or provide sensitive information. The purpose of this simulation is to see how employees respond and to identify areas where additional training may be needed.

Awareness training is also important to educate employees about the dangers of phishing and how to protect themselves. This can include training on how to identify phishing emails, how to safely handle emails that may be phishing attempts, and what to do if they fall victim to a phishing attack. Regular training and reminders can help to ensure that employees stay vigilant and are better prepared to defend against these types of attacks.

By combining phishing simulation with awareness training, organizations can better protect themselves against phishing attacks by:

  • Identifying vulnerabilities in employees’ ability to recognize phishing emails
  • Building awareness of common phishing tactics
  • Reinforcing best practices for responding to suspicious emails
  • Measuring the effectiveness of their security awareness training
  • Improving employee response time in the event of a real phishing attack

The use of AI-based phishing simulation is becoming increasingly important as phishing attacks become more sophisticated. This is because attackers are using increasingly advanced tactics, such as using legitimate sender domains, crafting convincing fake login pages, and

impersonating trusted sources, to evade traditional filters and anti-phishing measures. AI-based phishing simulation can help to stay ahead of the curve by providing a more proactive approach to detecting and mitigating phishing threats.

Another key advantage of AI-based phishing simulation is that it can be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization. For example, an AI-based system can be trained to recognize the types of phishing emails that are most likely to target a particular organization, based on its industry, location, and other factors. This can help to further improve the accuracy of phishing detection and provide a more targeted and effective solution.

In conclusion, while traditional phishing filters have their limitations, the use of phishing simulation and awareness training, combined with AI-based phishing simulation, can help organizations better protect themselves against phishing attacks. By providing employees with the training and tools they need to recognize and avoid phishing emails, organizations can reduce their risk of falling victim to these types of attacks and protect their sensitive information and assets.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) provides multiple benefits, including

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