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How to launch phishing simulation using top brands?

This guide shows you how to use top brands to make phishing tests more realistic. Find out about the legal points and simple ways to improve your employee's ability to spot fake emails and messages, helping them protect against cyber threats.

How to launch phishing simulation using top brands?

Phishing tests with popular brands are important for cybersecurity training. They imitate real attackers' methods. These simulations enhance awareness and fine-tune individuals' ability to detect and respond to sophisticated phishing attempts.

Using a brand in security awareness training is important because:

  1. Incorporating familiar brands into training scenarios makes the learning experience more realistic. People interact with these brands daily, enhancing their engagement and attention.
  2. Testing individuals with simulated phishing attempts that mimic trusted brands evaluates their ability to identify fraudulent communications, a technique frequently exploited by cybercriminals.
  3. The inclusion of well-known brands in cybersecurity education improves memory retention. Familiarizing these brands helps embed cybersecurity lessons more deeply in learners' minds.
  4. Using popular brands in simulated attacks helps to keep the training current and applicable. This allows for demonstrating common tactics used by hackers in real-life situations.
  5. Practicing with well-known brands helps people prepare for real threats, boosting their confidence and skills in stopping security breaches.

What is a Brand?

A brand is like a company's signature. You recognize it through its logo, name, or style. It tells you what to expect and sets companies apart.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a legal way to protect a brand. Trademarks are important because they keep things fair. They ensure no one else can pretend to be a brand you trust.

The Importance of Brands in Security Awareness

Using brands in phishing simulation tests has a significant role in creating security awareness. Using familiar logos and company names, phishing simulation tools can help mimic real-life phishing scenarios, making the security awareness training more relatable and impactful.

Cybercriminals often use original pictures of brands to make their phishing emails more realistic and hard for the victims to identify. When security awareness training specialists use these original pictures of brands in phishing simulation tests, it increases engagement and helps them better understand real-world phishing email attempts. After these regular phishing tests, employees become more aware and look closely at emails and messages that misuse familiar logos or have the original brand logos, learning to spot discrepancies that might indicate a phishing scam.

What are the legal issues with phishing?

The legal issues with phishing include fraud, identity theft, and breaches of data protection laws. Businesses that fail to prevent phishing attacks may violate data protection regulations such as the GDPR in Europe or the CCPA in California. These laws require companies to implement robust security measures to protect consumer data, and non-compliance can result in huge fines.

Therefore, it is important for individuals and organizations to understand and address the legal implications of phishing to improve cybersecurity and comply with data protection standards.

Benefits of Using Top Brands in Phishing Simulation

Using familiar brands in phishing simulations can make the training more effective. Here's how:

  • Realistic Scenarios: When employees see well-known logos and names, they think it's real. This grabs their attention.
  • Better Learning: If simulated phishing tests are close to real life, people remember the lessons better. They're more likely to spot and stop phishing attempts in the future.
  • Staying Alert: Practicing with phishing simulations helps everyone get better at questioning emails and messages that look legitimate but might be scams.

Risks and Challenges of Using Top Brands in Phishing Simulation

While using known brands can help training, it also comes with risks:

  • Legal and Ethical Issues: There's a legal risk in using someone else's brand without permission, plus it's not always right to mimic trusted brands as it could confuse people.
  • Potential Brand Damage: If people think the training is real, it could hurt the brand's reputation. This could upset customers and the brands involved.
  • Mixing Messages: Employees might start ignoring real emails from these brands, thinking they're training simulations.

Using well-known brands in phishing training needs careful handling to avoid these problems and make the most of its benefits.

Potential Issues of Phishing Simulations with Brands

Simulating phishing with top brands can create issues. Here are some:

  1. Email Delivery Issues: Even after whitelisting, email services might still block or flag simulation emails. Email and anti-spam services actively identify and prevent things that appear to be phishing, even for training purposes.
  2. Browser Warnings: Chrome and other browsers alert users about deceptive sites. If a simulation closely mimics a real brand's site, the browser might warn the user, disrupting the training experience.
  3. Threat Intelligence and Legal Risks: Running simulations that impersonate well-known brands can lead to legal trouble. Threat intelligence services scanning the web may report your domain, mistaking the simulation for a real phishing attempt.
  4. Damage to Brand Trust: Using real brands in simulations can cause harm the brands' reputations. People may link being phished with a brand, even during training, causing a negative experience.
  5. Participant Skepticism: When simulations are too realistic, they can cause skepticism and mistrust among employees. In the future, they might start questioning the truth of real messages from these brands.
  6. Challenges of Creating Realistic Simulations: Creating and running phishing simulations with famous brands is challenging. It takes a lot of work, understanding, and resources to ensure things are correct and follow the rules.
  7. Overconfidence in Detection: Successfully identifying a simulated phishing attempt might lead to overconfidence among participants. They may need to pay more attention to the sophistication of real-world phishing threats, thinking they can easily spot all attempts.

Decision Time: to Phish or not to Phish using Top Brands?

The verdict is in: Continue with your phishing simulations.

Don't let fear or misinformation stop you. Keep your employees informed and secure your organization against phishing attacks. Educate them using trusted brands in their phishing tests. By learning how to recognize and respond to these attacks, they're not just securing themselves, they also protect their environment.

Each lesson learned from a simulation is a step towards a more secure environment for everyone involved. So, despite potential problems, pressing on with phishing simulations is both valuable and necessary.

Challenges with Top Brands in Phishing Simulations

When incorporating well-known brands into phishing simulations, several challenges can arise, impacting the effectiveness of your cybersecurity training. Here's a closer look at these challenges and how they can affect your simulations:

  • Emails can still go to spam or be blocked, even if you whitelist sender IPs and domains. Email providers have advanced algorithms to detect and stop phishing, which may wrongly identify your fake phishing attempts.
  • Chrome and other browsers have features that protect users from deceptive websites. Suppose your phishing simulation too closely resembles a real brand's website. These browsers might warn users about a risky site, making your simulation less realistic.
  • Threat Intelligence services scan the internet for bad things. These services can find and tell you if your fake websites pretend to be well-established companies like Microsoft, Google, or Apple. This may block your domain, impacting your simulation and possibly other communications.

See some phishing example templates below:

An Outlook desktop update phishing template from Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator library. .jpeg
Picture 1: An Outlook desktop update phishing template from Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator library.
An Apple security update phishing template from Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator library. .jpeg
Picture 2: An Apple security update phishing template from Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator library.
A Google photos phishing template from Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator library.  .jpeg
Picture 3: A Google photos phishing template from Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator library.

Create Successful Phishing Simulations

Ensuring your phishing simulations are effective and unobtrusive involves combining creativity and technical know-how. Here are strategies to enhance your simulations while minimizing the risk of being blocked or reported:

  1. Avoid Using Brand Names in Domains: Instead of directly incorporating brand names into your simulation domains, opt for generic URLs like "" or "". This reduces the likelihood of automatic detection by email filters and browsers.
  2. Customize Login Pages: Rather than copying the login pages of well-known brands, create similar but distinctly different pages. This approach helps avoid detection by browser security mechanisms trained to recognize and flag copies of popular sites.
  3. Modify Brand Logos: Slight alterations to logos of famous brands can prevent your simulations from being immediately recognized by automated scanning tools yet still convey the brand's essence to the participant. This subtle difference is enough to educate without infringing on trademarks or misleading participants.
  4. Innovate and Expand: Continuously evolve your phishing simulation strategies. Incorporate varied scenarios that reflect the latest phishing techniques, use diverse communication channels (like SMS or social media), and always seek feedback to improve the realism and effectiveness of your simulations.

Conclusion: Keep Phishing!

Using well-known brands in phishing simulations is important in creating realistic and engaging cybersecurity training. Email servers, browser warnings, and threat intelligence services all see impersonating top brands as problematic.

Conducting successful phishing simulations using top brands without compromising legal or ethical standards is possible.

Keepnet offers solutions that allow customers to incorporate top brands into their phishing awareness programs seamlessly. Keepnet ensures the successful delivery of simulated phishing emails that are not blocked by spam filters and email providers. Security awareness training program managers can upskill employees to identify phishing by following guidelines and including brand names or logos.

Watch the YouTube video below to learn how Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator tool works. This tool empowers employees to fight cyber threats and creates a security culture within your organization.



Schedule your 30-minute demo now!

You'll learn how to:
tickUse top brands without having legal challenges in Keepnet’s Phishing Simulator.
tickDeliver phishing campaigns without whitelisting challenges, experience no delivery problems, and see no false clicks in your reports!
tickCreate high-level management reports of phishing campaign statistics and overall organization risk score against phishing attacks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What legal precautions should companies take when using brands in phishing simulations?

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When using real brands in phishing simulations, companies need to be careful to follow the law. It's important to take the right legal steps to avoid problems like breaking trademark laws, protecting the reputation of the brands, and keeping training ethical. See some actions you can take below:

  • Understand Trademark Law: Ensure that any use of a brand's logos, names, or other trademarked material in phishing simulations complies with trademark laws. This includes understanding that trademarks protect the brand's identity and prevent confusion or deception among consumers.
  • Use Generic or Altered Brand Elements: Instead of using exact brand logos or styles, consider modifying them or using generic versions to avoid legal issues while still maintaining the effectiveness of the training. This approach reduces the risk of trademark infringement.
  • Ethical Considerations: Address the ethical implications of using real brands in simulations. Consider how this might affect the perceived integrity of the training program and the potential for misleading participants. Ethical practices not only support legal compliance but also enhance the credibility of the cybersecurity training.

How can phishing simulations be tailored to different industry sectors?

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Phishing simulations should be designed to reflect the specific threats and common practices within a sector. For industries like finance or healthcare, simulations might include scenarios involving payment processing or patient information to make them more relevant and engaging.

What metrics are used to measure the effectiveness of phishing simulations?

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Effectiveness can be measured by tracking metrics such as click-through rates on simulated phishing emails, the number of employees who report the email, and changes in these metrics over time to gauge learning progress.

How often should phishing simulations be conducted?

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Regular phishing simulation testing is recommended to keep security top-of-mind; quarterly simulations can help identify training gaps and reinforce good behaviors, but the frequency can be adjusted based on the company's risk profile and industry standards.

Can phishing simulations reduce the risk of real phishing attacks?

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Yes, regular phishing simulations train employees to recognize and react to suspicious emails, significantly reducing the likelihood of successful real-world attacks.

What are the techniques used to launch phishing attacks?’

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Several techniques are used during phishing attacks to trick people into giving away their personal information. Here are some common methods:

Each of these techniques is designed to trick the victim into making a security mistake by trusting the malicious content.

  • Email Spoofing: Attackers send emails that look like they are from legitimate companies, asking you to provide sensitive information.
  • Fake Websites: These are websites that resemble real ones where you might normally enter personal details, like banking sites. Attackers attract you to these sites to steal your information.
  • Link Manipulation: The emails might contain links that seem correct, but actually redirect you to malicious websites.
  • Attachment Scams: These emails include attachments that, when opened, can install harmful software on your computer to steal data.
  • Impersonation: Attackers might pretend to be someone you trust, like a coworker or a family member, to convince you to send them sensitive information.
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