Some people might think that data breaches are mainly caused by cybercriminals. However, according to a study by Stanford University and cybersecurity firm Tessian, approximately 88% of all data breaches are caused by errors committed by employees. To mitigate the risks associated with staff making cybersecurity mistakes, it’s not enough to deploy solutions like firewalls and anti-malware programs — It’s also crucial to conduct cybersecurity awareness training programs.
What is cybersecurity awareness training?
Cybersecurity awareness training aims to educate your employees about common cybersecurity issues and the roles they need to play to address and prevent these.
Training your workforce properly in cybersecurity offers you the following benefits:
- Reduced risk of suffering a data breach: Many cyberthreats use social engineering to trick people into committing mistakes, such as clicking on phishing emails, downloading malicious programs, and the like. Educating your employees about current cyberthreats will make them less likely to commit mistakes that could jeopardize your organization’s security.
- Money and time saved: According to a recent IBM study, data breaches cost companies an average of $4.24 million, which can be enough to shut a business down. If your employees are trained properly on cybersecurity, you can avoid having to incur such steep costs.
- Earn your customers’ trust: Cybersecurity awareness training enhances your organization’s ability to protect sensitive customer information. Disclosing your organization's cybersecurity certifications and credentials can make clients more inclined to trust and do business with you.
Cybersecurity training also allows you and your employees to focus on more important tasks instead of spending time repairing the damage caused by a cyberattack.
How do you conduct an effective cybersecurity awareness training program?
Ensure an effective and meaningful training by doing the following:
1. Evaluate your current cybersecurity landscape
Have your employees answer cybersecurity awareness surveys. These will provide helpful information on which parts of your cybersecurity initiatives are deficient and how you can fortify them.
2. Have everyone participate
Cybersecurity best practices must be observed by everyone in your company, regardless of position or seniority. By making cybersecurity everyone’s responsibility, you reduce the vulnerability gaps in your organization.
3. Communicate well
Your workers must always be aware of the goals of your cybersecurity training program. Before implementing it, call for a short meeting or send an email detailing the training’s importance, what your company aims to achieve, and what employees should expect in terms of how it will affect their daily work.
4. Connect with your employees
Boring or fear-driven PowerPoint presentations won’t resonate well with your employees. Capture their attention better by customizing your cybersecurity training programs based on their interests, roles, and cybersecurity knowledge levels. When your workforce can relate with the training material, the more effective your program will be.
You can also try gamifying your training programs to make them more fun, which in turn will motivate your employees to do their part in fortifying your company’s cybersecurity initiatives. Some ideas include:
- Cyber-awareness challenge: Designed by the US Department of Defense, players need to prevent future events from occurring by practicing good cyber hygiene and promoting awareness of cybersecurity issues and the threats these pose.
- Escape room games: To get out of a locked room, players must solve cybersecurity-themed challenges
- Cybersecurity Lab: This is a game where players are tasked to defend a company being targeted by sophisticated cyberattacks. They will need to fortify their cyberdefenses and defeat the attackers by writing code and cracking passwords, among other things.
- Cyberattack simulations: Send out a fake phishing email to everyone and see which of your employees fall for the bait. Alternatively, you can stage a malware attack to determine how quickly your staff can prevent their systems from getting infected. Reward those who did well, and provide a refresher course to those who struggled.
5. Train frequently
It’s best to conduct cybersecurity awareness training at least every four to six months.
In a study conducted by nonprofit organization USENIX, employees underwent phishing email identification training. After this, they were asked to spot phishing emails at different intervals, ranging from four to 12 months. The researchers found that after four months, employees still found it easy to identify phishing emails. After six months, however, they started forgetting what they had learned.
To ensure continuous cybersecurity learning within your workforce, you can do the following:
- Regularly send cybersecurity newsletters to your employees containing tips and articles on how to stay safe online.
- Encourage employees to always examine their cybersecurity-related actions to see what they did right and what they need to change.
- Conduct cyberattack simulations frequently to ensure that your employees are applying what they have learned from past training programs.
Turn to Safebit for reliable IT security services to complement your business’s cybersecurity awareness training programs. We will also ensure that your IT infrastructure is protected from all cyberattacks. Talk to us today.