Saturday, July 20

Transforming End User Behavior, An exclusive interview with Syed Abid Ali, Co-Founder & CCO at PhishRod

People, processes, and technology are the foundations of any organization. All the information that an organization possesses revolves around these three pillars. Whether you are developing the digital transformation plan or the cybersecurity strategy of the organization, people, processes, and technology are vital components. With the advent of technology and the internet being the nucleus of digital growth, it is critical that controls are in place at all levels within the organization to safeguard confidential data. The role of people in the cybersecurity equation has become even more critical, as hackers are targeting end users’ using techniques such as phishing and social engineering.

In an exclusive interview with CyberCentric, Syed Abid Ali, Co-Founder & CCO at PhishRod highlights the importance of end user awareness and strategies to transform end user behavior.

Q1. Why are end users an integral component of a cyber defense strategy?

Any modern-day organization implements approximately 10 to 15 cybersecurity controls such as IPS, Firewall, Antivirus, Email Gateway, Web Gateway, SIEM, NAC, SOAR, etc. While these controls are critical and prevent organizations from cyber threats, they do not guarantee a “Threat Free” environment because hackers can employ techniques like Phishing & Social Engineering to deceive end users into clicking on a malicious link or downloading malware, thereby circumventing these controls. PhishRod recently conducted a study on “State of Phishing Readiness in Middle East & North Africa” and 90% of the respondents believed that Phishing is the most potent threat vector and end users play a significant role in thwarting threats related to phishing and social engineering.

Q2. How does PhishRod help organizations in transforming end user behavior?

PhishRod follows a structured approach that is built on the “Assess-Aware-Empower-Enforce” methodology. Our solution helps an organization determine end user behavior against phishing threats by simulating those threats. Once the vulnerable users are identified they are put through a rigorous and automated security awareness program.

PhishRod automates the entire security awareness program where different types of built-in security awareness content can be assigned to end users. The solution offers a variety of awareness content that includes SCORM-compliant training modules, animated micro-learning videos, digital escape rooms, games, infographics & newsletters.  PhishRod also offers a policy compliance module that enables organizations to upload and assign all IT and IT security policies to end users. This module ensures that end users are aware of the policies, provide their consent, and comply with them.

By adopting an integrated approach, PhishRod provides CISOs with complete visibility into end user behavior in a KPI-driven manner achieved through smart dashboards that offer insights at the user, organization, and department levels.

Q3. Security Awareness is generally subjective in nature, how does PhishRod ensure the involvement of end users?

The success of any awareness program is largely dependent on the content that is pushed to the end users. If the content relates to the end users, they are likely to learn cybersecurity best practices and apply them in their day-to-day routines.

PhishRod offers highly customizable content to our customers where regional context, localization, branding & the ability to explain complex cybersecurity concepts in a simplified manner remain a core objective. Besides this, features like Machine Lock Integration ensure that end users take part in the awareness program because this feature allows a CISO to lock the machine of an end user if he is not maintaining the minimum threshold of his Security Awareness & Policy Compliance Index. Gamification & Digital Escape Rooms also offer an interactive, fun, and engaging way of learning complex cybersecurity concepts in a more competitive environment.

Q4. How does PhishRod empower end users to play an active role in the cyber defense of an organization?

Once a suspicious email bypasses the email gateway and lands in the end user’s mailbox, a click is all it takes to trigger a cyber attack. PhishRod provides a complete automated phishing incident response platform where end users can report a suspicious email. Using the 130+ built-in threat intelligence feeds, an analyst can gauge if emails reported by end users are suspicious or not. If found suspicious, such emails are quarantined and ultimately deleted from all end user mailboxes. Even when end users do not report, the system continues to scout for malicious emails, quarantines and deletes them to protect your organization from possible phishing attempts. PhishRod also leverages the existing threat intelligence feeds that an organization has and offers seamless integration with their existing SIEM & SOAR platforms.

Q5. How does PhishRod differentiate from the rest of its competitors?

PhishRod is not just a tool. We follow a comprehensive methodology and assess an organization’s current security awareness program by benchmarking it against international standards such as Cybersecurity Awareness Maturity Model. Once the assessment is done, we help organizations develop an “Enterprise Security Awareness Framework” which defines the objectives, scope, and operational activities of the security awareness program.

At the platform level, our ability to offer highly customized training content, built-in threat intelligence feeds, the ability to host the solution on-premise or on local cloud, and machine lock integration are some of the key features that help us stand out from the competition.

Q6: Why do you think organizations need to prioritize investing in security awareness and phishing incident response programs?

By investing in security awareness and phishing incident response, organizations can ensure that their employees are aware of the risks and have the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and respond to potential threats. With end users being the last line of defense, it is of critical importance that they are equipped with the arsenal that can empower them to effectively safeguard the digital boundaries of their respective organizations. This can help reduce the likelihood of successful attacks, minimize their impact, and ultimately save the organization from the repercussions of a security incident by involving the end users.