3 Topics Every Cybersecurity Awareness Training Must Include
Most business leaders understand the need for and importance of firewall software to protect their IT infrastructure. But they may be missing out on another critical cybersecurity prevention tool.
Organizations that don’t provide regular, proactive cybersecurity awareness training for employees are missing out on the potential for an added layer of network security.
Employees who understand the latest cyber threats (and are trained to report and avoid them) provide another layer of protection for your infrastructure.
Effective awareness training keeps cybersecurity at top of mind. It engages employees as a human firewall. It also minimizes the opportunities for cybercriminals to access sensitive information and damage your infrastructure.
Ideally, all organizations would provide comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training for all employees. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.
Cybersecurity is a broad topic and every organization has a different level of risk. The training schedule and content can be adjusted accordingly, but a minimum level of training should be mandatory for all employees.
As Kelser's manager for security and compliance, I’ve seen organizations that use employee cybersecurity awareness training effectively and those that don’t.
In this article, I define cybersecurity awareness training, explain why it is important, and identify three key topics that every organization must include in its training. This is not an all-inclusive list, but rather a look at a few basic elements that I consider to be the bare minimum.
What Is Cybersecurity Awareness Training?
Cybersecurity awareness training is a tool that provides ongoing education opportunities to help employees recognize and avoid the latest threats to their IT network. The training can be delivered through a combination of simulation exercises and general information delivery. It can be delivered in person or remotely.
By understanding threats and how to identify them, employees avoid becoming victims of cyber attacks. They are armed with the information they need to provide an organization’s infrastructure with an added layer of protection.
Why Is Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training Important?
The tactics of cybercriminals have gotten more advanced. For example, grammatical or spelling errors used to be easy ways to identify fraudulent emails, but today, the distinctions between legitimate and fraudulent emails may be more subtle.
In response, organizations must provide ongoing training to ensure that employees can recognize and avoid the latest threats.
What 3 Topics Must Cybersecurity Awareness Training Include?
The content and schedule of an organization’s cybersecurity awareness training should reflect its risk.
For example, a small bakery looking to protect its prized recipes will likely need a different level of cybersecurity training than an organization dealing with government secrets or medical information.
While additional levels of cybersecurity awareness training might be required, cybersecurity awareness training for all organizations should include these 3 topics at a bare minimum:
1. Email Security Protocols
In today’s business world most employees use email for daily communication. Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of cyberattacks begin with phishing emails. Cybercriminals use phishing emails to infiltrate an organization’s network.
All it takes is for one employee to click on a malicious link and the organization’s entire network is vulnerable.
Keeping up to date on the latest email security protocols to combat threats can mitigate this risk.
2. Malware Recognition & Avoidance
Malware is an abbreviation for “malicious software.”
Malware can be a program or file that contains viruses, spyware, adware, or other invasive and harmful software. Malware can cripple or disrupt an organization’s network.
Ransomware is an example of malware. It encrypts files on a device, making associated files and systems unusable. Malicious actors demand a ransom payment before removing the malware and making the systems usable again.
Learning to recognize and avoid risky behaviors associated with malware, such as enabling macros, following questionable website links, or downloading and running suspicious files, is essential to help prevent malware from ending up on company networks.
3. Password Security
Having advanced password security protocols in place provides enhanced system security. Something as simple as a complex password can be a deterrent for cybercriminals.
Think of it this way, locking your vehicle doesn’t mean your car won’t get stolen, but a criminal would have to take additional risks to steal your car. Passwords provide a similar deterrent to bad actors who want to access your data.
Training can provide deeper levels of knowledge and security. These minimum requirements provide a very basic understanding of cybersecurity for a low-risk organization.
Next Steps For Providing Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training
The 3 non-negotiable elements of any employee cybersecurity awareness training are email security protocols, malware recognition & avoidance, and password security.
After reading this article, you know why cybersecurity training is important and the value that a human firewall provides. You may be ready to take the next step toward accessing effective training.
Several options (some of which are free!) exist for providing employee cybersecurity training. To learn more, check out this article: Cybersecurity: Why It's Important & How To Take Action Today.
Kelser Corporation is a managed services provider (MSP). We offer a range of cybersecurity solutions for our customers. We know an MSP isn’t the right solution for every organization, so we publish articles that you need to protect your organization.
Curious about the range of services an MSP offers? Read this article: What Does A Managed Services Provider Do? (Essential & Premium Services)
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