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Employee Cybersecurity Training: Why Is It Important and How to Implement It?

By | Elaine Bennett | Editor in Chief, Bizzmark Blog

The study by ACCC says that businesses reported 5846 online scams that resulted in $7.2 million in losses. To avoid data breaches and reduce costs, companies have started investing more in a solid response plan and using encryption extensively. Another important cost-reducing factor is educating employees about cybersecurity.

Why is employee cybersecurity training important and how to get the most out of it? Let’s find out. 

Employees Are Still Your Weakest Link

Always keep in mind that your employees have different levels of knowledge when it comes to recognizing cyber threats. If someone does not know what malware is, how can they recognize, report, or prevent it? Precisely because of that, most of your employees are likely to open the doors to online hackers, harming your business’ sensitive data. No cybersecurity plan or software can help you here, as the threats are coming directly from the people you trust the most. 

Another great reason why employees are often seen as a perfect entry point for cybercriminals is that they use their private devices at work. They open different entertainment sites, click links, and read private emails at work, using your business’ Wi-Fi.

Not knowing to recognize a suspicious link, document, or button, they may open it and infect your entire network. Statistics back me up on that, claiming that, human error caused the unauthorized disclosure of data of 270,000 people.

Online security training will help employees understand how their online behaviors impact the entire organization. By helping them learn how to identify cyber threats and mitigate them, you will basically secure the weakest link in your cybersecurity chain. 

Cyber Threats are Becoming More Sophisticated

With the rise of sophisticated cybersecurity technologies, cyberattacks have also become more complex and difficult to recognize. Today’s hackers use artificial intelligence to trick even the most sophisticated online security tools. Therefore, education is the only way to avoid becoming the next victim of a cyberattack. Some of the most common types of cybersecurity hazards to pay attention to are:

  • Phishing: According to PWC’s 2018 Global Economic Crime & Fraud Survey, this is the most common kind of scamming that accounts for 48% of all successful online breaches. The idea behind it is simple – a hacker uses social networks, email, IM apps to target victims and tricks them to open a malicious link or download an infected document. These links often form a direct gateway for online criminals to enter your company’s servers and steal valuable data. 
  • Malware: The abovementioned report by PWC claims that accounts for 38% of all cyber breaches. Hackers often use email downloads as their most powerful weapon. Namely, they just need to encourage your employee to click on the link and, voila, your entire network is infected. This can often lead to irreversible damages to your sensitive data, harm your business’ performance, and increase your costs.
  • Fileless attacks are more sophisticated than the rest. Just like their mere name says, they do not rely on any infected links or attachments. Instead, they target apps and programs your employees use that may be outdated.

How to Structure your Employee Cybersecurity Training?

Start with the cybersecurity basics and use simple, non-technical language. The idea is to raise employees’ awareness of this burning issue and engage them. Here is what security awareness topics you should address in your employee education plan:

  • Discuss different types of cyberattacks

Your employees should understand that there are different ways cybersecurity threats can appear, from phishing to ransomware. The idea is to explain the most typical features of each type of cybersecurity breach. Offer examples that will help employees understand how a spammy email may look like and where it may hide malicious links or files. As most of your employees link spam with email content, you should also educate them that similar threats may appear on social networks, entertainment platforms, and so forth. Once your employees can recognize and understand the most typical forms of cyberattacks, they will be prepared to react faster and promptly prevent them.

  • The purpose of internet policies

Most organizations have introduced BYOD policies, allowing employees to bring and use their private devices at work. But, how do your employees use their tech? Most of them will probably use them for tasks that have nothing to do with their jobs. While opening entertainment sites, social networks, their private email or downloading new apps, files, and games, they may come across suspicious files and harm your entire business.

That’s where businesses should introduce web filtering. It blocks access to the content that is not suitable for work (NSFW), such as social networking sites, gambling, gaming, or pornographic content. Above all, you will be able to monitor how they use the internet, improve employees’ performance, and prevent illegal activities, such as downloading copyrighted documents or illegal software. Employees should not frown upon these practices. Instead, they should understand their benefits for their workplace productivity and the overall company’s security. 

You should combine web content filtering with stricter cybersecurity polices. Write a sold guide, where your employees should understand how opening suspicious emails, downloading odd files, and clicking on shady buttons or links may harm the entire businesses. Make your guidelines clear, straightforward, and easy to understand. Above all, make it detailed, including actionable tips and effective examples.

  • The importance of password security

This is one of the most significant factors to address. Many online users still choose names of their kids, pets or favorite singers/actors, dates of birth, and similar personal data as passwords. That may be a huge problem. Explain why passwords are your first line of defense and, as such, they should be strong. Provide examples and show them how to create strong passwords using combinations of letters, symbols, numbers. 

  • The importance of testing

Your employees should be aware of practices such as penetration testing. The idea is to perform a simulated cyberattack of your network to see what your weakest points are and understand what damage a real online data breach would make. Aware that you will not announce these audits and that you will test their cybersecurity preparedness, too, they will pay more attention to their online behaviors.

Conclusions

To be successful, an employee cybersecurity program should create a sense of shared responsibility. Precisely because of that, you should make the education program mandatory for all staff members, irrespective of their previous knowledge and experience. You should also update and repeat your course regularly to stay on top of the latest cybersecurity challenges. 

How do you educate employees about the major cybersecurity risks?

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