Here’s How to Train Employees for Cybersecurity
Why should employees be trained for cybersecurity?
As the number of major data breaches increases every year, we can see that affected businesses can range from startups to large companies. Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) are often the easiest targets because of their vulnerabilities. It is now more vital for organizations to find their vulnerabilities and patch them up to reduce the risk for cyberattacks.
A business can hire the best third-party service providers such as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for their organizational needs or a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) for their cybersecurity essentials, but the most vulnerable aspect isn’t their network – it’s their employees. Employees are at the forefront – they handle the data, and they can, accidentally or intentionally, give them to outsiders who have malicious intent.
Digital assets are at the very core of an organization, and hackers have become more creative by using tactics such as spear-phishing (sending fraudulent emails from a trusted sender) or social engineering (targeting vulnerable employees) to find an easier way in. The technological landscape is constantly shifting and evolving, so it is harder for businesses to keep up. Understanding how to train employees for cybersecurity is essential for an organization. Here are some tips and practices to train employees for cybersecurity.
Employees should not be blamed.
It is true that most of the time employees are the cause of a data breach or attack, but it is wrong to put the blame solely on them. It is unjust to blame an employee for falling into a trap that they had no knowledge to combat at the time. The organization should be responsible for the attack because it is their job to ensure that its employees have the knowledge to keep its network and data secured.
Maintain a proactive approach to network security.
The best way to approach the security of digital assets and the employees who handle them is a proactive approach – creating plans for ensuring that when a problem occurs, employees know where to go for their questions. A business must set up the necessary infrastructure that keeps the organization updated when any new threats occur and how they will be dealt with.
Invest in employee training.
Maintenance is the key when it comes to cybersecurity – the knowledge of employees should be constantly updated so they know how to be on the defense against attacks. New kinds of attacks are constantly developing, so it is vital for employees to be trained regularly. Poor practices such as updating network devices only once a year is as bad as only training employees once a year.
Employees should be considered as assets, so they need to be invested in continually. Just like how vulnerabilities are patched up, security training can be viewed as employee patching. A business should stay committed to different approaches to keep their employees in the know and find approaches that fit their work environment. Erase the mindset that the employee who caused the breach is at fault; understand that it is the training structure or lack thereof that has failed the employee.
Increase cybersecurity awareness.
According to the Keeper Security and Ponemon Institute in their 2018 “State of Cybersecurity” report, two-thirds of SMBs suffered from cyberattacks. Considering these are unreported ones and the overall low coverage of cyberattacks in media, the number could be much more. One method to keep employees informed is to share cybersecurity articles and news to them regularly. Information on how attacks happen can increase day-to-day cybersecurity awareness.
Be clear on how data breaches can affect your company.
When trying to convince higher-ups to invest in cybersecurity and cybersecurity training, one should relay the risks and speak to them in a language they understand. Data breaches can cost a company up to millions or dollars, and the figures are rising every year. Let them understand that the price of investing time and effort into a cybersecurity plan is far less than what a business can lose in the long run. Try putting a price on everything, including the liabilities for being at fault for leaking customer information.
Train on password security.
A strong password is the first defense against a cyberattack. It is a fundamental building block in a company’s security plan. A strong password must be long enough, have multiple character sets, and is changed regularly. Employees should avoid using passwords that are personally related to them, and each account should have a different password.
Using a password manager is recommended – it can generate strong passwords and remember them for each account. Passwords can also be easily share across a team, which enables easy collaboration albeit working remotely. You may also read more about password security from our article here
Train employees against “phishy” emails.
As mentioned, the most effective attacks of today take advantage of human error. Attackers can manipulate email addresses and domains to look like the real deal. They can even use the company name to make the employee think the email is from their senior employees.
These risks should be recognized and addressed as an organization, because a stronger defense means that there should be no employees who can be considered as “weak links” that can be targeted by hackers. The most sophisticated hackers can create highly targeted schemes to work their way into a network. Employees should be trained to identify phishing emails and know where to go if they have any security concerns.
Social engineering attacks are sneakier because they target employees by pretending to genuinely ask for help. Employees should make sure who they are talking to is verifiable, and that the information that they are asking for is reasonable. Employees should be taught to be critical to avoid this kind of attack.
Start training from day one.
For more efficiency, cybersecurity training should already be incorporated into hiring a new employee. It is important to go over the rules from day one and give the best practices to prevent attacks. Cybersecurity guidelines should already be in place so that a new employee can use it a guide and resource. Having a safe environment where employees can share their concerns can avoid situations where they try to cover their tracks due to the fear of being caught.
What can a business do right now?
Just like any organizational project, a business should get all hands-on-deck to battle the rising number of data breaches and attacks. We have learned that employee training is the key, with additional and constant reminders of new types of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is a team effort, and employees should have the training they need to succeed.