Technology directly impacts the functionality and management of businesses in today’s society. With the ever-growing digital world, it is crucial for businesses both big and small to be aware of any risks that may affect critical data and online assets within their network. Data is the backbone to the success of any company and can hold extreme value, whether it be employee personal identifiable information, company product intellect, or financial details. Ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all organizational data is imperative to the growth and success of any business, which is why cybersecurity awareness training is vital.
A recent survey taken by the U.S. Small Business Administration, identified that 88% of small businesses believe they are vulnerable to a cyber-attack and are unsure what prevention methods to deploy. A simple yet highly effective action that small to medium size businesses can take to drastically reduce the risk of cyber threats and attacks is to implement a security awareness training program within the organization. Education is key and will provide employees with the necessary tools and skills required to successfully identify and respond to a cyber threat or attack if one were to occur.
The cybersecurity awareness training that Makaye InfoSec provides is comprehensive and easy to understand no matter the IT or cybersecurity skill level. Topics explored will often include and incorporate discussions around social engineering, end-user best practices, physical security, policies, and various types of email specific attacks. Cybersecurity awareness training can be offered in different formats and tailored depending on the specific needs of each organization. Small and medium sized businesses should view cybersecurity awareness training as an investment. It will provide immediate benefit to employees, as well as long-term prevention strategies and mitigation techniques for the company as a whole.
What is Cybersecurity Awareness Training?
Cybersecurity awareness training is put in place as a method to formally educate all team members and third-party stakeholders on the various cybersecurity topics surrounding prevention, identification, and response of cyber threats and attacks that are possible to any organization. The training is intended to create awareness and mindfulness around the topic of cybersecurity within businesses. With this training, employees will be more apt to identify and report suspicious or malicious behavior, potentially saving the company from becoming a victim of cybercrime. This positive shift in culture overtime will allow cybersecurity and cyber mitigation techniques to be brought into everyday conversations in a positive manner.
Cybersecurity awareness training is deemed a critical security control by various cybersecurity best practice publications such as CIS, NIST, and ISO. All of these publications request that businesses establish and maintain a cybersecurity awareness training program which allows all members of the organization, to include employees and stakeholders, to have a cybersecurity conscious mindset alleviating additional risk to the overall organization.
Benefits of Implementing a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program:
There are numerous advantages to implementing a cybersecurity awareness training program into an organization. For small and medium sized businesses, it can lead to a more robust corporate image making the organization look trustworthy to new customers or potential business partners. The following are just a handful of additional advantages that can come along with the implementation of a well-designed security training program.
- Saving Time and Money:
Investing in cybersecurity awareness training and implementing prevention methods learned can alleviate financial loss caused by cyber-crime later on. In 2021 IBM published an article discussing the substantial cost of a data breach and what the effects can mean for a business. The article mentioned that it can take an average of 287 days to identify and contain a network breach. Although this number would fluctuate based on the size and complexity of the breach and resources available, it does put into perspective that malicious cyber actors can do significant financial harm to a business. The time and resources spent identifying and containing the breach could have been invested into other profitable aspects within the business. The IBM article goes on to point out that data breaches in 2021 had the highest average cost in 17 years and topped out at approximately $4.24 million. Investing money towards the prevention of cybersecurity events, to include cybersecurity awareness training, can ultimately reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.Human error is the cause of many company breaches. Taken from the IBM 2021 report, 20% of breaches were due to compromised credentials. This can easily be corrected and avoided by educating the end-users on complex passwords, safe storage of passwords, and social engineering tactics commonly used to gain credentials.
- Mitigating Liability for Employee Behavior:
From a legal standpoint, implementing a cybersecurity awareness training program within the workplace can prevent employees from using ignorance as an excuse for foul play, whether accidental or intentional. Managers can track and verify that all employees have received proper training and fully understand what is expected in regard to cybersecurity, security policies, and online network safety.
- Shift in Culture and Mindset:
Invest in the cybersecurity mindset for all employees. Cybersecurity is not only the work of a single individual or a team of dedicated professionals. It takes one person within the business to introduce a vulnerability to the network, which can cost the business time, money, resources, and potentially valuable data. Cybersecurity awareness training shifts the mindset to a cybersecurity focused way of thinking. Employees will act more responsibly and make informed decisions about suspicious activity or questionable emails.
As previously mentioned, it is not unusual for businesses to be legally required to meet certain compliance standards by federal or state laws. For instance, industries such as healthcare and finance are subject to role-based training requirements to ensure that sensitive patient data or financial data are being properly maintained according to legal standards.Businesses that perform cybersecurity awareness training solely for the purpose of compliance will not be successful. Cybersecurity awareness training can allow those in managerial roles to identify gaps and flaws within the business and make necessary changes where appropriate. It empowers employees to shred their sticky notes full of usernames and passwords, and makes people think twice about clicking on embedded email links from unknown sources.
Test the Skills Learned from Cybersecurity Awareness Training:
Research shows that approximately 91% of successful data breaches start with a simple phishing attack. A phishing attack occurs when a malicious cyber actor disguises themself as a trusted entity and tricks the recipient into opening an email or text message. The purpose of the email or message is often to get the victim to reply revealing sensitive information, or to click on an embedded link that can deploy malicious software on the system’s infrastructure.
To fully understand gaps in knowledge that any organization may have, it is smart to perform a simulated penetration test or social engineering attempt to exploit any weaknesses. These tests can be in depth to include a third-party utilizing tools and techniques to attempt to gain access to internal network data, or as simple as sending out controlled phishing emails to determine if employees are able to identify and report the phishing correctly. Since phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated and targeted, businesses of all sizes are falling victim. The FBI estimates that phishing attacks costs businesses approximately $12 billion per year.
Small and medium sized businesses often feel as though cyber-attacks only happen to larger corporations, and this is simply not the case. Malicious actors can target anyone at any time. Preparation and training within the organization is just one simple way to effectively reduce the risk of becoming a victim and the next statistic.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training for All Employees:
No matter if employees are seasoned veterans that have been with the company for years or brand-new hires, all personnel need to be involved in the cybersecurity awareness training process. The digital realm is always changing and new tactics that malicious actors utilize are constantly evolving. Many of the cybersecurity governing documents require, at minimum, the cybersecurity awareness training to take place on an annual basis, as well as upon new hire.
The cybersecurity awareness training also ensures that all individuals understand the security policies and procedures put in place for the organization. New clauses to address security concerns or areas of risk may be added. All policies and documents pertaining to security within the organization should be made readily available to all employees. Documents will need to reflect all up-to-date names and contact information of individuals along with the proper steps on how to report an incident if needed.
Security Awareness Training Versus Cybersecurity:
Security awareness training is just a small aspect of the overarching cybersecurity domain. It is a simple step that the organization can control while simultaneously incorporating cybersecurity-as-a-service from an outside entity. Cybersecurity-as-a-service provides continuous monitoring to the network by running scans, reviewing audit logs, and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data within their realm of responsibility is maintained. The employees within the organization can be the first line of defense by understanding the importance of cybersecurity and remaining aware by identifying phishing emails, utilizing complex passwords, and making conscientious decisions while on the network.
Although security awareness training is just a small part of cybersecurity, it is vital to the protection of the organization. Cybercrime can happen to any business, no matter the size or niche`. The evolving tactics for cyber criminals are becoming more complex and social engineering ploys are increasing in stealth. Because of this, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant and identify potential threats to avoid costly data breaches. Makaye InfoSec provides comprehensive security awareness training that covers various aspects of online safety. The program can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any organization.
Contact Makaye InfoSec, to learn more about the services offered and what steps are necessary to thwart cybercrime and be more confident in the overall health posture of your organization’s network.