Your business’ security program must start with your employees and strong security policies supported by, rather than entirely depending on, your IT team and the latest security technologies.You can significantly reduce the likelihood of a data breach and the lost time, money, and reputation associated with it, by combining a well-drafted cybersecurity policy with comprehensive security awareness training.
As nice as it would be to depend upon the responsibility of all employees, ultimately it’s you who bears the burden when things go wrong. Implementing security training for all your staff, whether they’re IT savvy or not, is a surefire way to increase your organization’s ability to withstand cyberattacks and keep on with business as usual. You could try sending out emails with cybersecurity tips, but they are likely to get buried under “more urgent” matters if they’re never tested. Or you could try holding an annual cybersecurity training day for your employees, but it’s information overload and three months later hardly anyone can remember anything.
Regular bite-size training develops a security-focused culture within your business that stays with them and can help shape their habits long term. Through ongoing education, cybersecurity awareness will become second nature to your employees, rather than an annoyance or disruption. Once that is built into their mindset, they’ll be equipped to make calculated decisions quickly and accurately, when faced with threats in real-world situations.
Security Culture and Its Influence on Employees
Conducting a one-time employee training session for the sake of compliance does not adequately benefit your business’ cybersecurity posture. Staff forget, or they encounter new techniques that didn’t get covered in last year’s meeting. Rather, it is a regular security awareness training regimen that can effectively protect your business from a broad array of looming cyberthreats.
The following statistics throw light on why security awareness training is an essential component of business security, based on today’s threat landscape:
- Human errors cause 23 percent of data breaches1.
- Over 35 percent of employees do not know about ransomware2.
- Nearly 25 percent of employees have clicked on malicious links without confirming their legitimacy3.
The training that starts making inroads against these numbers should not require you to incredibly adept with computers. This material needs to be able to be absorbed by everyone in the company, so you shouldn’t be asked to learn a ton of tech jargon or forced to try and hack the hackers. It can start as simple as understanding the importance of locking one’s computer screen when leaving a workstation unattended and nurturing that habit. It’d be an expensive and complicated technological fix to detect when someone leaves their desk, communicate that to the computer and force a lock-out, or we could invest a fraction of that money and effort into our people. Once they’ve been properly trained they will not only be more aware of and compliant with your existing policies, but they’ll provide a new way of seeing things that could help you write your next policies.
Tips to Implement Effective Security Awareness Training
So, it’s easy to agree that it’d be nice to have a well-trained staff to act as a line of defense against any cyber threat, but how do you get to that point? Up until recently, many companies had to resort to gathering people into a boardroom or having them join a video meeting and busting out the tried-and-true slide deck. They’d have these sessions once or twice a year and have a miniature version of it that they could show to new hires as they joined the team.
If you intend to develop a security-focused culture, these “one and done” measures simply don’t cut it. They’re uninteresting, often overwhelming, and with a lack of follow-up soon forgotten. Here are a few things your security awareness training should be and do to get you the outcomes you’re looking for, and shut the door on hackers:
1. Training should be interactive – Your employees will engage with the material more if your deliver training with high-quality video, and interactive components. Strictly text content should only be used as a complementary piece to video, or you’ll have your staff’s attention span dry up in no time. Short quizzes help cement the new information they’ve learned and transform theory into applicable situations.
2. Keep the modules small – Attention spans of your employees will no doubt vary greatly, and let’s be honest, especially when it comes to the world of cybersecurity. If you want everyone to benefit, you need to play to the shortest attention span in the room, so keep learnings bite-sized, and break them out over the course of the year. Smaller units have a higher rate of retention than lengthy pieces of content, and it becomes easier to send out new, more relevant information
3. Fit training into every person’s schedule – By giving your employees the freedom to learn at their convenience you ensure they can pick up new training without missing any of their other deadlines. Just because learning is self-paced doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be monitored though. Give staff sufficient time to complete each training module and then follow up to make sure they have fully participated.
4. Keep training material relevant and up to date – Given how quickly both the technology and cyber treat landscape is changing, it can be challenging to keep all your content current. If you’re telling people to be careful about putting CD’s into your computer from unknown sources or instructing them to avoid sharing personal information on their MySpace accounts you’re likely to have a lot of people rolling their eyes and discounting the information that they should be absorbing. By providing relevant examples in an easy-to-understand manner your employees will have no trouble applying the lessons to their own daily work scenarios.
5. Conduct reviews with quizzes and mock drills – Theory is fine, but there’s no better way to tell if the information is sticking than making people apply the learning. Modules should include quizzes, and mock drills should be conducted on a regular basis to keep your team alert about what scams look like and how to avoid them. If people are still falling prey to the simulated scams, it could be time for a bit of a refresher.
Transform A Weak Link Into Your First Line of Defense
Your employees want you to be able to rely on them when it comes to keeping your business safe, but they can’t do it without your help. We understand that implementing a robust system of security awareness training can seem like a complex or expensive process, but you don’t have to worry. This is a path we have guided many companies down successfully already, so we know how to avoid the common pitfalls that can waste your time and money. Building this training into your business operations and strengthening your overall security posture is just a part of what we do. From there, you’ll be able to face anything the world of cybercrime could throw at you, now and in the future. Get in touch with us today to find out how you can get started.
1. IBM 2020 Cost of Data Breach Report
2. Opinion Matters Survey
3. Help Net Security Magazine