How to Build Effective Phishing Simulation Templates

At Right-Hand, we are committed to being a customer-driven company. Our customers’ experiences and challenges guide all our products, features, and services.

Regarding phishing simulations, we use data to create phishing simulation templates that effectively provide accurate insights into employee behavior, leading to real change and improved Human Risk Management. We want to share some of this intelligence and show what works best when crafting an effective simulation.

Why is it Important to Build the Perfect Phishing Simulation Template?

The goal of a phishing simulation is to challenge users as much as possible. Attackers don’t make it easy, so your simulations should reflect that. Knowing which templates work best means having more accurate data on user behavior, leading to more effective behavior changes in follow-up training.

These templates combine content, localization, and sender profiles. Delivering them at the right time, such as during holidays or tax season, makes them even more effective.

The objective is to make these templates as believable as real attacks. Click rates help us identify the most and least effective templates. Let’s look into these components.

Picking the Right Topics for Phishing Simulation Templates

Phishing simulation templates can cover any topic commonly seen in emails. These can include:

  • Amazon emails promising vouchers
  • Urgent requests for password changes
  • HR requests to fill out forms

Based on our experience, the most effective topics include:

Topic How it's effective
Human Resources
Templates that mimic internal communications are highly effective. Due to the nature of HR messages, users already perceive them as urgent, even without explicit urgency cues. Prompts for leave requests, performance surveys, and similar topics have high click rates.
Financial topics carry inherent urgency. Effective requests often involve tax return communications, warnings about unauthorized access to bank accounts, or compromised credit cards.
IT Requests
Templates addressing personal or work platforms are effective. Unusual sign-in activities and account termination warnings prompt urgency to fix issues.
Social Media
Social media notifications, such as a friend’s mention or “you’re getting noticed” alerts, grab attention. For networks like LinkedIn, where social currency matters more, these templates are particularly effective.
eCommerce phishing templates are popular among attackers. They range from invoices and vouchers to shipping notifications and more.

Get the Facts

Download our exclusive phishing simulation templates infographic. We’ve brought our experience to show you what works and what doesn’t. 

Improving Impersonation with the Right Attacker Profiles

The “who” in a phishing simulation template—the sender/attacker profile—confers authority and credibility to the message. According to a Cloudflare report, 51% of all phishing email impersonate the top 20 global brands. A common tactic is the small misspelling of names, relying on our brains to autocomplete anything that looks familiar, like “rigth-hand.”

Other effective tactics include:

Profile How it's effective
Spoofed Company Name
Typos in company names in domains are very effective. Examples include Anazon, ebey, Micrsoft, and Appple. These profiles often relate to voucher, invoice, and other corporate communications.
Spoofed Platform Name
Typos in platform names, such as Docusign and Microsoft, are also effective since communications from these organizations usually carry urgency.
Generic Department Name
This tactic involves attaching a fake account to a “real” account. Fake domains are disguised as real ones, often only detectable in the headers. Examples include “payroll” or “office printer” departments.
Other Spoofed Names
Spoofed names can also include social media platforms, telecom companies, and personal interests like sports brands.

Phishing Simulations, Automated and Effective

Make your employees less susceptible to malicious phishing attacks, equipping them to be your first and best line of defense against cyber threats.

Phishing Simulation Platform - Right-Hand Cybersecurity

What Else Makes an Effective Phishing Simulation Template?

Beyond choosing the right topics and sender profiles, other details can enhance the accuracy of phishing simulations:

  • Calendar: Timing matters. For example, tax season is ideal for financial templates involving documents to sign and review. Adjusting the day of the month, week, and time of day can improve effectiveness.
  • Location: Companies with a global presence should use geolocated phishing templates. Templates tailored to local companies or banks increase the accuracy of simulations.

How to Put It All Together

Combining these details results in effective phishing simulation templates. At Right-Hand, we offer an extensive template library, including customizable topics, sender profiles, and other components. Our Human Risk Management Platform allows for template creation tailored to your unique challenges and goals.

If time is an issue, our Managed Services team can help create the most effective templates for accurate campaigns. Our expertise has saved time and ensured the success of Human Risk Management efforts for many customers.

Contact us today to schedule a personalized demo and learn more about leveraging phishing simulation templates for your organization’s success.

Picture of Rodrigo Leme

Rodrigo Leme

Marketing Director for Right-Hand Cybersecurity, Rodrigo has over 20 years worth of experience in Technology companies in Brazil, US, Canada and other countries. He is based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and loves everything tech, music, marketing, writing, and hockey (go Canucks!).

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