Every October, cybersecurity leaders and enthusiasts alike observe Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM). The sole purpose of this CSAM is to ensure the online security of everyone, from an individual to an entire organizations.
With the meteoric rise in cybersecurity incidents, there are no two ways about the fact that cybersecurity awareness training is a must for businesses. For this reason, many enterprises see this month as the perfect time to jump-start their employee training initiatives and combat the menace of cyber threats.
Before we delve into how enterprises should train their employees on the ways to tackle cybersecurity breaches, we must understand the sheer significance of cybersecurity training for employees in the first place.
The Importance of Cybersecurity Training for Employees
It is astounding to know that even in the present times, many short-sighted businesses struggle to allocate appropriate budgets regarding cybersecurity training initiatives for employees.
They forget that cybersecurity incidents come with a hefty price, that ultimately has to be borne by the targeted organization. A report by IBM suggests that in the year 2021, the average cost of a single data breach was a substantial US $4.24 million. To avoid this, enterprises must prioritize cybersecurity training, as a proactive approach to cyber risk management.
Market research shows that a whopping 90% of cybersecurity incidents occur due to a lack of sufficient employee training and expertise regarding ways to efficiently handle such incidents. As cyber miscreants become “savvier”, and more sophisticated, they often target un-suspecting enterprise employees, which end up doing their bidding, completely oblivious of the associated risks.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common attack vectors chosen by cyber miscreants. Here, bad actors in-advertently get into employees’ cyberspace, by “hoodwinking” them into opening malicious URLs, or file attachments. It is unfortunate that “phishing kits” readily available on the “dark web” make these practices dangerously simple to perform.
Without sufficient employee training and sensitization, many enterprise employees fall into the trap of unintentional data breaches. This happens because employees do not know what are they up against, and they fall prey to such malicious activities. In other words, due to no fault of their own, employees are used as a mule to propagate malware, or some other malicious attack vector, across their enterprise IT infrastructure.
Guidelines for Businesses to Conduct Cybersecurity Training for Employees
A good way to tackle cybersecurity breaches would be to always remain mindful of the dangers lurking across cyberspace. The following points highlight employee training best practices regarding ways to avoid and mitigate the impact of cybersecurity attacks.
1. Create a Culture of Awareness
The ultimate goal of any cybersecurity-related employee training program is to develop an organization-wide culture, where employees proactively embrace cybersecurity best practices across their IT environments.
The responsibility largely lies on the shoulders of tech leaders, and key security personnel to create a collective culture of awareness and positive employee attitude towards cybersecurity practices.
If done right, you will be able to achieve a lasting behavioral change and a strong culture of cybersecurity, that will surely differentiate your enterprise from competitors.
2. Subscribe to Online Cybersecurity Training Courses for Employees
There are numerous online cybersecurity training programs that can be leveraged by businesses to educate their employees, so they do not get tricked by the “fraternity” of malicious cyber actors out there.
Short animated videos are also becoming quite popular these days, as they leave a long-lasting impact on employees’ minds. Such training can also accompany interactive games and quizzes, to increase employee engagement.
3. Invest in Role-based training
The meaning of cybersecurity awareness could differ from employee to employee, depending on the role they are designated to perform. For instance, some IT personnel would see cybersecurity from a more technical perspective, as compared to a non-technical employee from the Human Resources (HR) department. This is why role-based training provides a great way for enterprises to give the right training, to the right people, and at the right time.
Cybersecurity awareness training is important for all employees. This is because data breaches could reflect badly on the entire brand reputation of an enterprise, and such cyber security breaches may also entail financial consequences, such as hefty fines or penalties.
4. Develop an Effective Data Breach Response
Every enterprise can create a unique data breach response that best aligns with its distinct requirements. In the following points, we have mentioned a generalized data breach response plan, which businesses can adopt to help their employees navigate through various cybersecurity incidents. This will give employees the confidence to resiliently handle a difficult situation, rather than panicking and causing further damage.
- Firstly, enterprises must be clear about what exactly constitutes a data or cyber security breach. Make employees aware of all the possible scenarios that could possibly disrupt your IT operations.
- The next logical step should be to formulate a cyber-security incident response team, with specific and clearly defined roles. Employees must immediately reach out, and report any untoward cyber security incident or breach to this response team.
- The third step should be to create a list of regulatory authorities or legal experts that should immediately be contacted by the organization, as mandated by the applicable laws. Gone are the days when such cyber security incidents could be kept “under the carpet” for days, weeks, or even months.
- The fourth step should be to train employees about what exactly needs to be communicated, to whom, and when. This plan should strike a balance between meeting all the legal requirements, while also preserving the organization’s image and repute to the best extent possible.
- The last step should be to promptly initiate a response plan to come out of the incident and mitigate the damage. A very crucial element of this response plan is to avoid, or minimize downtime, at least for the mission-critical organizational processes.
5. Make Cybersecurity Awareness Programs a Recurring Activity
Once organizations have “got the ball rolling”, it is vital that they make cybersecurity awareness and training an ongoing practice. Consistency is the key here, as it will help enterprises achieve a robust cyber security posture. It could include anything, from a newsletter to regular announcements, which will help employees stay abreast of the latest cybersecurity trends.
Even if your business has been able to survive thus far, without any proper cybersecurity employee training, it is nothing short of a catastrophe that is waiting to unfold at any time.
This is why enterprises must channel their financial, technical, and human resources toward cybersecurity awareness training initiatives. Down the line, it will most definitely drive a positive Return on Investment (ROI) for your business.
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