Security Awareness Training for Employees: What Is It and Why Is It Essential to Your Business?

Cybersecurity

No business is too small to be targeted by scammers, hackers and other criminals. Bad actors target businesses and individuals of all sizes, but they particularly like to target the smallest. Unfortunately, the victims of data breaches include business owners, their employees, and even their customers. In 2015, more than 43% of small businesses were the targets of cyberattacks.

Cybercriminals know that large corporations have the money and infrastructure to employ the industry’s best cybersecurity services and prepare for all the newest developments in the cybersecurity space, and that smaller businesses with fewer resources are unlikely to have the same protective measures in place.

You might not have the same ability to protect yourself as the largest corporations, but there are still ways to protect your business from these ever-mounting threats. One of the best ways to protect your business is by running cybersecurity awareness training for employees.

security awareness training for employees

What Is Security Awareness Training for Employees?

The purpose of security awareness training is to educate your employees on the most common cybersecurity threats they are likely to encounter. Cybersecurity awareness training for employees equips them with the knowledge required to handle the most pressing threats a business has to deal with.

Many different types of security threats are targeted at small businesses. Phishing attacks meant to gain access to your network are the most common, but there are other ways criminals seek to take advantage of online and real-world information. Security awareness training teaches employees the essential habits they need to protect themselves and your business from falling victim to a cybercrime.

 

Why It’s Essential to Provide Your Workforce with Security Awareness Training

If your employees haven’t yet been victims of a cybercrime such as online fraud, it’s easy for them to let their guards down. During a busy working day, even the more competent among your workforce can overlook a seemingly harmless detail that could end up being significantly costly for your business.

Modern security threats aren’t always obvious. They also aren’t often complex schemes like the ones you see in the movies. Scam artists are always testing new methods and improving their skills, so it's essential that educating your workforce on recognizing cybersecurity threats is an ongoing investment in your business.

It’s also important to know that crafty hackers and scammers aren’t the only problem. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as a sticky note left mounted on the front of an office computer that can result in disaster.

More than 80% of hacking-related breaches involve something as simple as compromised passwords, so it’s important not to overlook the more simple preventative measures your business and employees can take.

 

Security Training Topics to Cover

Cyber security training for employees is a comprehensive topic that covers the many ways that critical information can be compromised. Here are some of the key areas of cybersecurity that your training sessions should cover.

Phishing

Phishing is the most common method that attackers use to gain access to your network. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this type of attack has become increasingly common. 91% of successful cyber attacks start with a phishing email, so it’s an important topic to start with.

Phishing is the practice of sending out fraudulent emails claiming to be from reputable companies or individuals. These fraudulent emails use the appearance of credibility to convince employees to divulge information such as payment details and important passwords.

Today, businesses face a more sophisticated form of phishing dubbed “spearphishing”. In this type of attack, scammers craft well-researched emails referencing specific information about the company and its employees with the intention of appearing credible and trustworthy to the recipients. Often, these emails contain malware that can affect the recipient's computer when opened, allowing sensitive data to be stolen.

Phishing training for employees covers how to recognize these dangerous emails and how to report them. While phishing is a ubiquitous threat, the risks can be greatly reduced through security awareness training.

Email Threats

While phishing is the most common email-related threat, it’s not the only one. Email security threats can also include other scams or negligent use of email accounts. Data breaches can result from oversights as simple as using the same password for every employee email, using overly predictable passwords, or not changing passwords frequently enough.

Email accounts are the most popular targets of phishing, scams, malware, and other breach attempts. That’s why cyber security awareness training for employees should always include education on safe email use and security. Failure to keep email accounts secure can lead to business or private information being leaked.

Public Wi-Fi Security

Wi-Fi security is often overlooked by employees performing their duties on the move. You might have a secure network in the office, but that won't necessarily protect your sensitive business files when your employees access them remotely.

Your business data can be targeted when your employees work using public Wi-Fi networks on trains, in public libraries, and cafes. Non-secure public servers provide an easy environment for criminals to target new victims. Educating your staff on public Wi-Fi safety will help them avoid common cybersecurity threats when outside the office.

Physical Security

Not all the threats your employees need to prepare for are targeted through online channels. People often forget to secure their physical belongings and their notes. Sticky notes with important information are fine, as long as they stay hidden from others. Important information that’s stored on smartphones, USBs, and CDs can always be stolen.

Criminal threats to your business can come in the form of theft of your employees’ personal belongings. Security awareness training should cover the steps they should take to minimize physical security threats.

Passwords

Passwords and authentication are the keys to your business security. Since the advent of the internet, fraudsters have scammed people and businesses by guessing passwords to gain access to private accounts and networks. Simple, predictable passwords can be easy to figure out. Using the same passwords for too long and not working to protect them can also lead to a breach.

Security training topics should typically include the value of using randomised passwords, two-factor authentication, and common-sense measures that should be taken to keep passwords secure. These extra layers of security ensure your passwords serve their purpose of keeping your data safe.

Avoiding Malware

“Malware” is an abbreviation of “malicious software”. There is a wide range of malware types that are used to infect and gain access to your employees’ devices, including viruses, worms, and trojans.

Malware is most commonly introduced via phishing, but it can also arise from other poor internet security practices at work. Unfortunately, some malware can often be hard to detect, even if you use antivirus software. It’s often the most simple oversights that can lead to malware infiltrating your employees’ computers.

The good news is that malware can be avoided by following safe practices online. Security awareness training should cover the sources of malware, and how it can be identified and avoided.

 

Best Practices for Cybersecurity Training for Employees

For security awareness training to work, it must cover all relevant security topics and account for new and emerging trends in cybersecurity. Remote work and working from home are important topics that must be covered. Likewise, security best practices must be maintained on all work devices and environments, including smartphones, laptops, desktops, and employee office space.

Cybersecurity should be a core component of your workplace’s culture. All the important security training topics must be covered and evaluated regularly to remain on top of any new threats that arise.

Making security awareness training and briefings a routine and ongoing investment in your business is essential to remain protected. Cybersecurity is a dynamic topic, and it takes effort to ensure everyone is up to date and feedback is being acted on.

Staff knowledge testing is an important part of security awareness training. While running training sessions and meetings are beneficial, requiring that your staff undergo knowledge testing afterwards will ensure the information has sunk in and that optimal security practices will be followed.

Similarly, there is no better method of teaching your employees to recognize and avoid cybersecurity threats than to put them through simulations that subject them to real-world situations.

By putting your employees through simulations for phishing, scam emails, and other threats, your staff can learn to recognize the increasingly complex methods that cybercriminals use to scam businesses. These more advanced, interactive tests can fill the gaps that standardized written tests cannot fill.

If you want to learn more about our cutting-edge IT security technologies and real-time monitoring can protect your business, get in touch today.

 

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