Security awareness training is becoming a hot topic in business circles – and for good reason. Employees can be the weakest link in the security chain – or your strongest defense.
Educating staff on threats like phishing emails, malware, and security best practices is critical for every business, from the smallest startup to the largest multinational corporation.
If your organization is not conducting formal training on the dangers of the cyber threats and available protections, your network infrastructure may be at risk.
But don’t take our word for it – statistics surrounding data breaches and business security support this growing interest in security awareness training.
Check Out These Data Breach Statistics from Verizon
- Recent data gathered by the cyber security team at Verizon is further proof that security awareness training is no longer optional for businesses.
- According to the 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, some 20% of cyber security incidents, and 15% of actual data breaches originated with individuals inside the organization. The reason for these data breaches and cyber security incidents varied, but the damage was much the same.
- In nearly half of all incidents, the goal was financial gain, while another 14% were a result of corporate espionage efforts.
- Nearly 24% of incidents were conducted for no reason; insiders breached the network simply because they could.
The Basics of Security Awareness Training
Security awareness training is designed to address the biggest factor in cyber security incidents – the human element. But the question remains – how do you ensure employees know how to spot a potential breach?
Whether it’s clicking on an infected email link, responding to a phone call requesting sensitive information, or wiring funds to a hacker’s bank account, a simple mistake can have devastating consequences for the business.
The purpose of security awareness training is to address these issues, providing employees with the knowledge and education they need to not only recognize the threats but actively respond to them.
Simple “Red Flags” Employees Should Look For
Employees can be the first line of defense in your cyber security strategy and that starts with basic awareness.
While cyber-attacks take many different forms, they have a number of factors in common. As part of your ongoing security awareness training, train your staff on how to recognize these telltale signs of a security threat.
- The From line:
Look at the sender of the email. An easy way to recognize a phishing email is to scan the email for misspellings and inconsistencies. An email from att.com is not the same as one from att.co or attt.com. Questions about suspicious emails should be directed to the management team.
- The To line:
Legitimate companies today often incorporate personalization into emails. Hackers, on the other hand, send generic emails to thousands (or millions) of different people. A lack of personalization in the To line is a big warning sign to watch out for. Instead of “Dear Susan”, look for generic greetings like “Dear valued customer”.
- Links: Embedded links are a common source of network infections, and employees should be very suspicious of those links. Mouse over (don’t click) the link and if the website URL you see when you hover over the link is different than the one in the email, you know it’s a threat.
- Email arrival time: The time an email came in could be another warning sign. If the email arrived in the middle of the night, this warrants a second look.
- Time-sensitive subject lines: Hackers like to use scare tactics to fool employees and get them to take action quickly without thinking. These time-sensitive subject lines are commonplace in spoof emails, but far less common in legitimate communication. An example might be “Your Office 365 account is about to be deleted”.
By educating employees about these warning signs, they become your first line of defense in network security. Security awareness training addresses these topics (and many more) to give your staff the confidence they need to avoid a potential threat.
Getting Started with Security Awareness Training
Now that you recognize the goal of security awareness training, it’s time to get started. This vital type of training should be an essential part of the employee onboarding process and an integral part of your operations.
As with any other type of training, what you put into your security awareness training will have a direct impact on how much you get out of it. Careful preparation is key, as is developing a training curriculum that works for your business. No two companies are alike, and every business will have a unique approach.
For example, you may want to begin your training with a simulated attack. Sending out a realistic, but harmless, phishing email is a good way to gauge the current effectiveness of your cyber defenses while presenting a cautionary tale for your staff.
This simple exercise will allow you to identify the weak links in the organization, so you can target the training accordingly.
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