With advancements in cybersecurity and cloud computing, businesses and tech companies have embarked on new roads to enhance productivity, engaging with clients and employees more efficiently, and providing quick and robust solutions to meet the needs of customers. Where technology has helped businesses flourish, it has also aided cyber threat actors. Threat actors can come in the forms of criminals for financial gain as well as nation state actors seeking to commit espionage. Nevertheless, threat actors are motivated by a variety of reasons that will depend on your organization’s industry and mission.
If you were to think building more defenses such as firewalls and investing heavily in newly innovative tools is going to save you, you may be surprised by the reality that there is no correlation between the amount a business spends on cybersecurity and the ability to deter attacks. It might make you sleep better at night and help in small areas, but tools alone are generally not enough to prevent cyber threats and can lead to a false sense of security.
Why is it that businesses with firewalls, security teams and malware scanning tools to detect cyber threats around the clock do not stop attacks from happening? Well, they do, but employees happen to be the most common entry point for attackers. According to Verizon, 90% of cyber attacks start with an email. Despite what others have suggested, labeling your employees the weakest link, your employees are likely the only resource you have to stop this threat. Humans generally trust others, and do not spend much time evaluating whether someone or some email has malicious intent. Users fall victim to social engineering and phishing attacks because it’s not on the top of our minds and we lack frequent cybersecurity training.
A strong focus on training your employees arms them with valuable knowledge to detect and prevent various attacks. Education on social engineering attacks, email phishing attacks and other common attack methods can be highly effective in your overall cybersecurity program. Therefore, employees who participate in cybersecurity training often are more prepared and effective in protecting the company’s assets. According to an article by Infosec Institute, continuous cybersecurity training can effectively reduce the amount of incidents by 40-50%; whereas, inconsistent training only offers a 10-15% reduction. Get access to our free Cybersecurity Training System here.
Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Among Employees
Educating your employees on cybersecurity is simpler than you might think. Do you think your employee’s can spot a cyber threat today? If not, train them and if you’re not sure, then test them using available simulated phishing tools. If employees do not know how to spot a cybersecurity threat, how can they avoid it, report it or even resolve it, for that matter? There is a lot of staggering evidence showing how important cybersecurity awareness training is for your employees. According to a survey conducted in 2019, lack of cybersecurity awareness training is among one of the top problems IT and security professionals face from day to day.
This graph displays employee cybersecurity training frequency in organizations in the United States. Around 29 percent of respondents stated that their organization provided security training once per year. It has been suggested that cybersecurity awareness training erodes 30-60 days after users have taken training. This leaves businesses vulnerable after a short period of time and some cybersecurity professionals suggest many businesses struggle to see the benefit of performing cybersecurity training beyond maintaining compliance.
How to Make Your Employees the “Best Threat Detection Tool”
Teach them about cybersecurity threat vectors. Discuss general threats as well as threats that have targeted your business in the past. Starting with some of the basics such as what is a virus, how attacks happen and what is at stake for each employee and the business. You can then move into deeper conversation and training about phishing examples, demonstrating various ways this attack can occur and how it becomes successful. Train them using active malware and virus campaigns using stories versus traditional training methods that are less effective.
Drive home the importance of password security. Get your employees to understand the importance of password security for personal and corporate accounts. People regularly use passwords for unlocking their devices, gaining access to secured networks, files, and web applications. Users feeling overwhelmed and confused as a result of the complexity of password policy configurations choose to use generic passwords and tend to reuse the same passwords across many accounts making it easier for attackers to compromise accounts. To see if your password has been compromised check the list on Github here.
Create email, internet, and social media policies. Communicate organizational cybersecurity and privacy policies defining the rules regarding the use of email, internet and social media related to corporate capabilities and data concisely and often to every employee. Imagine a business with no policies, the chances of your employees making your sensitive data and internal knowledge vulnerable or uncontrolled because of poor cybersecurity practices could result in the loss of revenue and/or future investment. New research reveals that there is a positive correlation between a strong security posture and positive stock performance. Investors will soon start evaluating cybersecurity risk in their financial portfolios which will impact buy, hold, and sell recommendations in the financial markets.
Protect company data. Build employee awareness of regulatory and legal obligations that the business has regarding data protections involving information such as Personal Identifiable Information and Personal Health Information. All employees should be aware of their personal responsibilities as it relates to the company’s legal and regulatory obligations.
Finally, there are a few more points to keep in mind while making your employees stronger, more empowered, and better equipped to detect cybersecurity threats. First, do not be ashamed of successful breaches of security—you can learn from them and optimize your training accordingly. Train your employees often to keep cybersecurity top of mind, and measure your improvements by simulating tests frequently. Finally, have a clear and easy way for employees to report cybersecurity threats to the security team.