Ebbinghaus and the Fight Against Phishing

Once you learn something, it doesn’t take long for you to start forgetting it.

Over time, you lose knowledge and memories. It is common sense.

You know the show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?¬† It is based on the whole idea that “everyone” learned this in school, but time has caused adults to forget it.

Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered research into memory and learning. He did experiments tracking people’s ability to memorize data and how quickly that information is forgotten.

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Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve example

During these experiments, he developed the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve which shows exponential loss of knowledge with a rapid loss at the start. AnteSpam’s Email Security Training (EST) avoids the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve through long-term repetition and by making the training a part of one’s normal routine.

The “forgetting curve” describes the decrease in a person’s ability to recall lessons over time. Typically, a graph of the forgetting curve shows we tend to lose half of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days without additional exposure to reinforce it

How to Retain What You Learn

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota Duluth

Ebbinghaus found various factors which affect a person’s ability to retain information presented to them.

Two key factors are the meaningfulness of the information and presentation of the information.

Our Email Security Training uses email simulations of phishing and malicious emails to take advantage of these factors. Those in training see what these bad emails look like during the course of checking their own emails.

When (not if) someone clicks on these training emails, the potential harm is avoided. Instead, the person sees clues were present to indicate the email wasn’t as innocent as it appeared to be.

The lessons are conveyed while the person is actually in the situation where they would be at risk and not presented in a classroom or via a brochure. Simulations are very important in presenting information in a way that helps a person retain it.

After initial exposure, refreshers must be done to overcome the forgetting curve. Each repetition in learning increases the time before the next repetition is needed. For near-perfect retention, initial repetitions may need to be made within days, but over time these repetitions can be spaced out over weeks.

Making an effort to frequently refresh information in one’s mind greatly decreases the effects of the forgetting curve. As a person retains the knowledge and doesn’t click on the simulated phishing training emails, the frequency in which a person gets these emails decreases.

What Ebbinghaus Means For You

You can spend lots of money on phishing training for your employees or customers.

And you’ve just seen how much of that investment can be lost within a few hours or days of finishing the class. Not to mention the loss when you fall victim to a phishing attack.

Why spend your money on training which won’t be retained?

Simulations that help a person gain and retain knowledge in the real world is what sets Antespam’s Email Security Training apart from others. Try it out for free for 30 days.