The Importance of Phishing Email Reporting

Written by: Renee Chambers
The Importance of Phishing Email Reporting

Phishing emails have become an increasingly significant threat to both individuals and organizations, with cybercriminals constantly devising new tactics and strategies to deceive recipients.

These cyber threats exploit the most vulnerable link in the cybersecurity chain—the human element. Recognizing and reporting these suspicious emails has therefore become pivotal in mitigating risks, protecting sensitive data, and enhancing email security measures.

This article aims to highlight the importance and benefits of phishing email reporting, along with insights into various tools and steps that enable effective reporting of phishing emails.

Benefits of Phishing Email Reporting

Phishing email reporting is more than just an action taken by users. It has now become an essential cog in the wheel of corporate email security. By empowering users to detect and report suspicious emails, organizations can reap several benefits:

  • Gaining valuable insights: When users report suspicious emails, organizations gain invaluable information that could be used by security teams to identify phishing emails and preempt phishing attacks more effectively.
  • Rapid Response to Threats: Timely reporting facilitates organizations to swiftly respond to potential threats, quarantine malicious messages, and even delete emails from the user’s inbox, thereby preventing damage before it occurs.
  • Feedback and Education: Reported messages not only allow cyber security teams to assess the impact of phishing attacks but also enable the creation of customized feedback and narratives for users to enhance security awareness.
  • Creating a Culture of Reporting: Encouraging a culture of reporting helps create awareness and fosters a proactive approach towards the betterment of corporate email security. By uploading screenshots or forwarding the email to the security team, users can greatly contribute to the safeguards of the organization’s email security measures.
  • Protection of personal and corporate data: The immediate reporting of phishing emails can disrupt the chain of attack and prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to sensitive information, thus protecting personal and corporate data.

Tools for Phishing Email Reporting

Given the increasing rate of phishing emails, numerous tools for effective phishing email reporting have been introduced recently. These tools integrate seamlessly with popular email clients and platforms, allowing users to report suspicious emails with a simple click of a button.

  • Microsoft Report Message and Report Phishing add-ins: These add-ins provide a simple and effective way for users to report false positives and false negatives to Microsoft for further analysis. The reported phishing attempts are then used to improve the email security of Microsoft 365 and Outlook via the Exchange admin center, further enhancing protection against phishing emails.
  • PhishAlert Button by KnowBe4 and PhishAlarm: These add-ins are found to be effective diagnostic tools compatible with various email clients, such as Google Workspace. They enable the users to report phishing emails, which are then flagged and forwarded to the admins for analysis.
  • ArmorBlox: Another NLU-based email security solution, ArmorBlox provides a phishing reporting button that is easy to install and deploy. It offers a highly automated, closed-loop email analysis and response (CLEAR) solution.

While selecting a tool, organizations should consider factors like ease of installation, compatibility, the duration of deployment and integration with existing email providers (such as Outlook, Google Workspace, or Microsoft 365), and security solutions (like Proofpoint, etc.). These factors vary according to the specific needs of individual users or businesses at large.

By making use of tools for phishing email reporting, users can significantly contribute to reducing the number of phishing messages, mitigating the potential threats of compromised systems, and enhancing the overall security of corporate email.

Steps to Report Phishing Emails

Reporting phishing emails effectively involves several crucial steps. As scams become more sophisticated, individuals and organizations need to be vigilant and knowledgeable about phishing tactics. Here are some recommended steps:

  • Identify Phishing Emails: It is essential to recognize the signs of a phishing email. Look for any inconsistencies or suspicious elements in the sender’s email address, greeting, content, links, and attachments. Be wary of urgent requests for action, requests for sensitive data, and poorly formatted content, which are common signs of phishing emails.
  • Report Suspicious Emails: Once a suspicious email is identified, it should be reported immediately. Many email platforms include a report phishing’ button or have options to mark emails as spam for suspicious messages.
  • Contact Appropriate Channels: Phishing emails should be reported to multiple channels for a more effective response. This includes the organization’s IT department, the email provider, and the company being impersonated, if applicable. Forward these suspicious emails to a security team or use tools like PhishAlarm or the Phish Alert Button, which facilitate direct reporting with a single click.
  • Use Security Solutions for Reporting: Phishing reporting tools like ArmourBlox, Microsoft Report Message, and Report Phishing add-ins not only allow you to report potential threats but also quarantine malicious messages and protect sensitive data.
  • Contact Governing Bodies: Report phishing attempts to governing bodies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), or relevant financial institutions. In the UK, Action Fraud should be contacted.
  • Delete Email from Inbox: After reporting, delete the suspicious email from your inbox. Avoid clicking links or downloading attachments from such emails.
  • Stay informed: Educate yourself and your team about the latest phishing methods and security measures. Cybersecurity awareness can be improved through security awareness training that includes phishing simulations and tests.

By following these steps, users can significantly contribute to improving email security and protecting personal and corporate data.

To sum up, phishing email reporting plays an instrumental role in shoring up email security and safeguarding personal and corporate data. It allows organizations to respond promptly to potential threats, identify weaknesses in their security systems, and educate their workforce. Recognizing the importance of phishing email reporting and integrating it into everyday practices can substantially enhance cybersecurity posture and resilience against phishing attacks.

The advent and deployment of various tools like the phishing reporting button have revolutionized the process, making it quick, simple, and more accessible for every user. These tools, coupled with continuous vigilance and education, offer a robust line of defense against the exponentially growing threat of phishing attacks.

By actively participating in reporting phishing attempts, each individual contributes massively to the collective battle against phishing, proving that every single action indeed counts in the larger scheme of cybersecurity. Through the proper reporting of phishing emails, we can all work together to create a safer digital environment.

The fight against phishing is ongoing. With diligent reporting and continuous improvement in reporting tools, we can keep our virtual walls secure and stay one step ahead of our adversaries.

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