New proprietary phishing study of six million users shows insurance organisations and not-for-profits lead all other industries with greater than thirty percent of users falling for baseline phishing tests.

KnowBe4, provider of the world’s largest new-school security awareness and simulated phishing platform, released a breakthrough study of phishing statistics for top industries, showing small insurance companies have the highest percentage of “Phish-prone” employees in the small to mid–size organisation category. Not-for-profit organisations take the lead in large organisations (1,000 or more employees). The study shows these types of organisations rank higher (in the low thirty percentiles) than the overall average of twenty seven percent across all industries and size organisations. Large business services organisations had the lowest Phish-prone benchmark at nineteen percent.

The Phish-prone percentage is determined by the number of employees that click a simulated phishing email link or open an infected attachment during a testing campaign using the KnowBe4 platform.

The study, drawn from a data set of more than six million users across nearly 11,000 organisations, benchmarks real-world phishing results. Results show a radical drop of careless clicking to just 13 percent 90 days after initial training and simulated phishing and a steeper drop to two percent after 12 months of combined phishing and computer based training (CBT).

The study anonymously tracks users by company size and industry at three points: 1) a baseline phishing security test, 2) results after 90 days of combined CBT and simulated phishing, and 3) the result after one year of combined CBT and phishing.

“In the past seven years, we’ve helped thousands of customers enable their employees to make smarter security decisions. Since we’ve reached the milestone of 15,000 customers, we’ve built a massive database to analyse and decided it was time to conduct a new analysis of average Phish-prone percentages,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4. “The new research uncovered some surprising and troubling results. However, it also demonstrates the power of deploying new-school security awareness training by lowering a 27 percent Phish-prone result to just over two percent.”

Rankings by industry for initial Phish-prone percentage include:

Insurance                                           32.66%

Manufacturing                                  30.99%

Technology                                        30.09%

Not for Profit                                     29.85%

Retail & Wholesale                           28.14%

Energy & Utilities                              27.89%

Healthcare & Pharma                     27.75%

Other:                                                27.39%

Education                                          27.16%

Business Services                            26.74%

Financial Services                            26.29%

Government                                    25.09%

According to Sjouwerman (pronounced “shower-man”), “Ninety-eight percent of cyber-attacks rely on social engineering and email phishing is the bad guys’ preferred method. Attackers go for the low-hanging fruit: humans. Humans are the de-facto No. 1 choice for cybercriminals seeking to gain access into an organisation. New-school security awareness training which includes frequent simulated social engineering testing is a proven method to dramatically slash an organisation’s Phish-prone percentage. Effectively managing this problem requires commitment and C-level buy-in, but it can be done and isn’t difficult.”

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