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How Cybersecurity Awareness Training Can Protect Your Business

August 12, 2021 - Cybersecurity & Compliance

How Cybersecurity Awareness Training Can Protect Your Business
Josh Scowcroft

Posted by Josh Scowcroft

Regardless of business size or industry, an organization’s employees remain the biggest cybersecurity threat and target for ransomware attacks. Whether that be falling for phishing attempts, using weak passwords, or engaging in unrestrained web browsing, employees provide malicious actors a variety of attack points they can extort that puts sensitive data, business reputations, and profit margins at risk.

With only 60% of businesses providing formal cybersecurity awareness training to their employees, it's clear organizations are overlooking the need to create employee accountability and responsibility. Organizations that invest in a continuous and comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training program can transform employees into their own IT army capable of protecting the organization they belong to.

3 Ways Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees Protects Businesses

Cybersecurity awareness training for employees is often overlooked and incorrectly placed at the bottom of the priority list. Businesses often become complacent in regards to their cybersecurity awareness training program and start regurgitating the same string of videos just for their employees to mute them while completing other tasks.

If businesses truly want to protect their data, reputation, and profits, they need to take the time to bolster their employees' cybersecurity awareness. When done correctly, employee cybersecurity awareness training becomes a huge asset to any organization where employees act as a human firewall of protection, stopping any and all risks before they develop.

Here are three ways businesses protect themselves by implementing ongoing cybersecurity awareness training for their employees.

1. Reduces the Likelihood of a Costly Data Breach

When a data breach occurs, it hurts companies in two distinct ways. From a financial perspective, when a data breach occurs business continuity is interrupted and businesses have to shut down operations. Manage service providers (MSPs) report that the average cost of downtime due to ransomware has increased from $46,800 to $274,200 over the past two years. The increased cost of downtime is a bill most organizations simply cannot afford.

From a reputational standpoint, a data breach generates customer fear instead of confidence. When customers lose trust in a business's ability to keep their data secure, they are likely going to start searching for a new partner.

To greatly reduce the likelihood of a costly data breach occurring, organizations need to take a proactive multi-layered approach to cybersecurity that includes robust employee cybersecurity awareness training. Here are a few tips on how to implement an employee cybersecurity awareness training program that minimizes attack surfaces and reduces the chances of incurring a costly data breach.

  1. Provide interactive training courses and simulated phishing attacks.
  2. Schedule ongoing employee testing with an increased frequency for at-risk employees.
  3. Compile and share test results to encourage improvements.
  4. Refresh cybersecurity policies as new threats emerge.

2. Improves Recognition and Reporting of Phishing Attempts

How can employees report phishing attempts if they can’t tell when they’re occurring? Unfortunately, only 5% of employees can effectively spot a phishing attack. While this is alarming, businesses can leverage simulated phishing tests to quickly re-write this statistic.

Simulated phishing tests are an integral component of a complete employee cybersecurity awareness training program. Mock phishing tests are designed to improve an employee’s ability to identify and report a phishing attempt if and when it occurs. In-office and remote workers need to be able to accurately identify phishing attempts as businesses continue to transition to hybrid and remote workforces. Simulated phishing tests are a great tool for providing employees a safe sandbox to learn about cybersecurity threats while never truly being at risk.

Employees can engage in fake phishing emails and IT managers can monitor their responses to identify gaps in knowledge, security, and learn which employees might be more vulnerable to an attack. If the same employee consistently fails simulated phishing attacks, it's clear this employee is a threat to security and additional education should be conducted.

3. Increases Awareness of Insider Threats

Employees are inherently valuable business assets, however, a lack of cybersecurity training can increase the frequency of human error, turning employees into a business’s biggest security vulnerability. Over the last two years, the number of insider incidents has increased by 47%. What’s more eye-opening is that a staggering 60% of organizations suffered over 30 incidents per year.

Insider threats originate from individuals with intimate access to a business’s network. There are two distinct types of insider threats: malicious and negligent. Malicious insiders intentionally steal data for personal gain, whereas a negligent insider accidentally leaks sensitive information. Here are some examples of both types of insider threats businesses need to be aware of.

  • A disgruntled ex-employee exfiltrating data
  • An employee stealing trade secrets for personal gain
  • An employee unknowingly falling for a phishing scam
  • An employee forgetting to secure databases and exposes sensitive customer records

The best way to avoid these scenarios and improve employee awareness of insider threats is to conduct rigorous and relevant employee training. When employees comprehend the consequences and scope of insider threats, they are more likely to make safer choices and protect their organization.

Protect Your Data and Your Business's Reputation with Robust Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Businesses need a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness program that empowers and trains employees to reduce exposure and strengthen their team’s security posture. The easiest and most effective way to manage your organization’s training program is by partnering with experienced cybersecurity specialists. Outsourcing cybersecurity training provides businesses more time to focus on business-critical work while still protecting their organization from human error.

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Josh Scowcroft

about the author

Josh Scowcroft

Josh Scowcroft is SymQuest's IT Director and passionate advocate of IT security awareness. Scowcroft brings years of experience bridging the gap between Information Technology and Business.

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