NIST Phish Scale

A new method that could be used to accurately assess why employees click on certain phishing emails. The tool, dubbed Phish Scale, uses real data to evaluate the complexity and quality of phishing attacks to help organizations comprehend where their (human) vulnerabilities lie.

What it is ?

“The Phish Scale is intended to help provide a deeper understanding of whether a particular phishing email is harder or easier for a particular target audience to detect,” said NIST researcher Michelle Steves in the press release announcing the new tool.

It looks at two main elements when assessing how difficult it is to detect a potential phishing email. The first variable the tool evaluates is ‘phishing email cues’ – observable signs, such as spelling mistakes, using personal email addresses rather than work emails, or using time-pressuring techniques.

The second ‘alignment of the email’s context to the user’ leverages a rating system to evaluate if the context is relevant to the target – the more relevant it is, the harder it becomes to identify it as a phishing email. Based on a combination of these factors, Phishing Scale categorizes the difficulty of spotting the phish into three categories: least, moderate, and very difficult.

These can provide valuable insight into the phishing attacks themselves, as well as help ascertain why people are more or less likely to click on these emails.

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