Written by: Justin Rende, Founder & CEO of Rhymetec
In the current high-risk cybersecurity environment, companies are wise to arrange security awareness training for their employees. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breaches Investigations Report shows 82% of data breaches involve a human element. These incidents range from employees exposing information directly such as misconfiguring a database, to indirectly making an error that enables cybercriminals to access the organization’s systems.
Regulatory frameworks such as HIPAA and SOC 2 require companies to provide security awareness training to be compliant. However, even when achieving compliance framework standards is not essential, an organization can improve its security posture by providing the appropriate tools and training to staff.
Types Of Cybersecurity Training
Companies can improve their workers’ cybersecurity knowledge by deploying the basic training offered by security awareness platforms. Ideally, the training takes place annually and delivers general security knowledge and an understanding of cyber best practices. In addition to the standard annual training, organizations can choose to implement several specialized options.
1. Framework-Specific Training
Some platforms deliver security awareness training based on specific cybersecurity and data privacy frameworks. For example, if a company needs to be HIPAA-compliant, a platform can provide HIPAA-specific security training. For an organization aiming to become SOC 2 compliant, many platforms offer security training specifically for that standard.
2. Organization Or Industry-Specific Training
Other platforms require companies to create their own content specific to their organization or industry, with slides and training videos customized for their employees. This method is helpful for players in particular sectors because they create content that is more relevant to their organization and infrastructure.
3. Onboarding Training
Onboarding security awareness training takes place as soon as a new employee joins an organization. The training helps workers understand the organization’s security requirements, risks and protocols before they gain access to sensitive systems.
4. Regular Reminders
Specific frameworks—for instance, HIPAA—require security reminders to be sent out regularly to staff. In such instances, training platforms fulfill the requirement by notifying employees at fixed intervals of the risks associated with lax cybersecurity practices.
5. Tests And Quizzes
Some training platforms conduct quizzes or tests after employees undergo awareness training. This form of testing prevents the employees from skipping through the training and helps employers understand whether their workers acquired any learnings from the process, as well as gauging their overall level of security awareness.
The Importance Of Awareness Training
Regular security awareness training is critical for employees at all levels. The purpose is to empower the staff to understand and implement best security practices to minimize risks and prevent long and short-term consequences such as financial repercussions, reputational damage, data loss and more. For example, a company may have requirements on how employees should encrypt their laptops or a policy to avoid clicking on any links received by email.
Most startups have introductory training videos that they send out to employees. Recently, many startups have also begun providing standard security awareness tools. Training can prevent the mistakes employees typically make when utilizing email, the internet or even proper document storage and disposal. It can also educate individuals on the actions they should take if they encounter a potential security threat.
Companies sometimes provide additional training on topics such as secure code deployment and information on how to implement secure infrastructure changes without compromising the organization’s security. For example, engineering teams typically receive secure coding or development training. These trainings address issues such as engineers’ increased access rights to company systems that require extra measures to secure company assets.
How Awareness Training Improves Security Posture
Security training improves an organization’s security posture in several ways. This matters because many people don’t fully understand all the potential cyberattack methods, such as impersonating the CEO and sending phishing emails to staff. Employees who aren’t vigilant enough or respond to the sender’s instructions without verifying their authenticity compromise organizational security.
Awareness training teaches employees specific examples of how their accounts can get hacked, and they can see how various impersonation attempts appear. This improves their understanding of the possible cyberattacks that can occur and empowers staff to prevent them.
Learning about security in general also improves the company’s security posture. Even if an organization implements all possible security controls and ensures its cybersecurity infrastructure is 100% protected, one employee with privileged access rights can compromise the entire foundation by clicking on a bad link or taking an inappropriate action.
Conducting Anti-Phishing Exercises
Once employees have received security awareness training, many organizations evaluate their workers’ understanding with anti-phishing exercises. These include sending fake emails to employees with an incentive to click a link for a freebie or reward. Employees who click through get a message telling them they are participating in a phishing exercise. The communication prior to these intentional phishing attempts also warns them not to click on links or attachments unless these come from people they know or accompany messages they were expecting.
The goal is to determine the percentage of employees who fall victim to the phishing attempt. Current statistics show 1 in 5 employees clicked through on the fake links, either because they were not absorbing or internalizing the security training or they ignored the reminders they received.
While companies are expected to undergo security training for compliance purposes, they aren’t necessarily required to take phishing training. Providing both types of training is a proactive approach any organization can take to protect its infrastructure.
Companies That Train Gain The Benefits
Improving your firm’s security posture delivers far-reaching benefits regarding compliance, your competitive edge and the development of your clients’ trust. Gain staff and customer loyalty, protect your infrastructure and provide additional value for your clients with the right cybersecurity awareness tools and training.
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