Security awareness training employees must have

Over the last 30 years, cyber-security has grown as a global threat year-on-year. Since the advent of the pandemic, this threat has been more pernicious than ever. The reason is simple. With so much of the workforce now operating remotely or hybrid, stealthy opportunists have been quick to exploit the vulnerabilities. 

The costs of dealing with cyber threats and the aftermath of cyber-attacks have risen steeply. Just a single data breach can damage finances, customer confidence, reputation and more. Introducing a security awareness training program should be on the agenda of every board. 

In this article, we look at the importance of ensuring that all employees, regardless of their work location, follow best practices and have a thorough understanding of the threats and how to do their part to prevent them.

The answer lies in security awareness training.

What is security awareness training?

Security awareness training is a strategy designed to help employees understand their role in combating information security breaches. Effective security awareness training helps employees to grasp good practices.

Research shows that human error is responsible for the vast majority of security breaches. Effective security awareness training minimises risk. It helps to prevent the loss of PII, IP, money and brand reputation. A training program will properly address the cybersecurity mistakes that employees may make when using email, the web and cloud-based applications.

What are the best practices in security awareness training? 

The fundamental principle of security awareness training should be to engage your workforce in reducing risk. Many security awareness training authorised programs ignore best practices. They often deliver training in one-off sessions that overload users with information.

For training to work, it needs to be rigorous, consistent and continuously engaging. It should be planned to fit employees’ schedules. Avoid intimidating, fear-based or boring messaging. Positive reinforcement, a human and interactive approach to training, will get better results to give people the best chance of retaining information.

What topics should security awareness training cover?

Whether you’re building a mature ongoing security program or just starting with an introductory program, you should, as a bare minimum, cover these topics.

10 Security awareness training topics

Phishing

Phishing attacks are designed to fool users into handing over information. It’s a form of social engineering attack, which often takes place via email, but increasingly within social media, SMSs and other instant messaging services. Attackers will try to get you to click on a link or hand over your personal information.

Spear phishing attacks are more sophisticated. Attackers will intercept invoices, payment requests and sensitive communications. Any of these can earn them big rewards.

Web Safety

Web safety is concerned with our online behaviour. People need to be trained to recognise malicious websites and avoid them. By teaching employees best practices for activities like social media, online banking and shopping, you will greatly improve their personal cybersecurity.

Password Security

Almost every system, network and device requires passwords. It can be difficult to apply a secure password strategy. Using the same password across numerous devices and programs significantly diminishes security and compromise the organisation. It’s vital that each of your employees applies a rigorous password strategy. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a comprehensive approach to protecting your digital assets; it requires the user to access a number of verified devices or portals to establish the authenticity of their login attempt. MFA is a highly recommended method for password safety, and it’s essential to make this part of your employees’ security training strategy.

Malware

Malicious software can attack any device or network. The usual route is through phishing emails. By clicking on suspicious links, users can be directed to unsecure websites. Opening malicious files and attachments can do untold damage to your systems and data.

Malware can be hugely damaging and comes in many forms:

  • Spyware – collecting sensitive information by monitoring your activity
  • Adware – clogging your device up with advertisements
  • Ransomware – taking your data hostage often in exchange for cryptocurrency

Antivirus software, along with vigilance and training, is the best form of defence. When referring to antivirus software, we want to emphasise that next-generation antivirus solutions will be more effective and sophisticated. Malware attacks are accurately detected, and key data is generated to ensure an efficient response to an attack.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices often represent a significant security risk. We can store a great deal of sensitive and confidential information within our devices. Employees must have the password of their devices protected and adequately encrypted. If you allow your staff to use personal devices for work tasks, it’s critical to establish a BYOD policy to ensure compliance with the company’s rules and expectations.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi seems safe and convenient, but it can pose a substantial risk to information security and confidentiality – especially in the case of public networks. When working from home, there are also recommended best practices employees should follow to ensure safety. 

With relatively simple, off-the-shelf software, attackers can easily intercept data transferred to public networks. If a network isn’t secure (i.e. not password protected), then the chances of that network being safe to use is very low.

If your employees absolutely have to make use of public Wi-Fi networks, ensure that your organisation has a VPN solution. This will allow users to transfer data securely through an ‘encryption tunnel’.

Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks are a favourite of cyber-criminals. They rely on the manipulation of people in order to extract valuable information. This can include phishing emails, quid-pro-quo exchanges and even physical interactions, such as tailgating.

Encryption

Organisations are increasingly responsible for making sure the personal information that they hold on customers and individuals is properly stored and secured. The main method of doing so is encryption. For employees to be security-aware, the fundamental methods of encryption must be understood.

Backing Up Data

As encryption will help to ensure the confidentiality of information, the practice of backing up will guarantee that your data will remain available, even after an attack. Security awareness campaigns aren’t just about stopping attacks; they’re also about safeguarding information in the eventuality of an attack happening.

Sensitive Information

Many of us are constantly having to deal with sensitive information. This could include business secrets, intellectual property or even personal medical data. Each may be subject to different regulations, though all require a security-aware mentality to properly protect.

There are many ways your organisation can protect its sensitive information. Examples include access control, which ensures that only authorised parties have access to sensitive information.

Security Awareness Training – an ongoing process

Security awareness training should be a key element of your business’s overall cyber-security strategy. When building your security awareness training content, these ten information security awareness topics should be just a starting point.

To effectively change behaviours, your efforts need to be consistent and applied broadly across the entire spectrum of cyber-security issues. You need an ongoing awareness training solution that addresses human error and conveys real value to your people.

Talk to the cyber-security specialists

Here at Silverbug, we’ll care for all your cybersecurity concerns. Using our own extensive security operations expertise and specialist security team, we’ll make your IT security our focus. Talk to our specialists about the best way to keep your remote workers and your business  IT safe, secure and operational.

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