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Cybersecurity Awareness: A Crucial Part of Your Security Strategy
As our reliance on the Internet and mobile devices continues to grow, so does the need for effective cybersecurity measures. With everything from commerce to communication to work being conducted online, cybercriminals have ample opportunities to exploit our vulnerabilities. A successful cyberattack can have devastating consequences for a business, leading to irreversible damage. In fact, the average cost of cybercrime rose by 12% to $13 million in 2018, according to Accenture’s Annual Cost of Cybercrime Research.
However, there are steps businesses can take to mitigate the effects of cybercrime, starting with raising cybersecurity awareness. While human beings are often the weakest point in any company’s digital security system, cybersecurity awareness is where real progress can be made. Employees are prone to making mistakes, forgetting important information, or falling victim to fraudulent practices. By employing cybersecurity specialists to educate workers about the risks and dangers of online crime, businesses can help prevent data breaches and keep networks secure. This not only protects the company from potential damage, but it also safeguards employees from losing their jobs, facing legal consequences, or harming the company’s reputation.
One of the most effective ways to raise cybersecurity awareness is through security awareness training programs for employees. These programs educate employees about different types of cyber threats and teach them how to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. Given that cybercrime reached unprecedented levels in 2017, with losses amounting to over $6 trillion, adopting a robust security strategy is critical for every business. Specially designed security awareness training programs help businesses enforce guidelines that protect sensitive information and systems from potential threats.
Implementing a security awareness program provides several benefits. Firstly, it ensures that all individuals associated with the organisation, including staff, business partners, and outside vendors, comply with security procedures to safeguard the company’s computer network from breaches. When employees possess adequate cybersecurity skills, they are less likely to put the organisation’s digital network at risk. By investing in employee cybersecurity education, a company can expect a return on investment. If all employees receive cybersecurity training, the chances of security breaches occurring due to an employee’s absence or mistakes are significantly reduced. Additionally, an organisation with security-aware personnel is more likely to earn the trust of consumers, as people prefer to do business with trustworthy companies.
Data breaches can have severe consequences for businesses, including financial loss, brand damage, and loss of customer trust. In 2020, the average cost of data loss was $4.2 million, with human errors accounting for 95% of incidents. Therefore, educating workers about the threats and risks associated with information security should be a top priority.
To achieve a higher level of security, organisations must implement recommended practices in cybersecurity. The first line of defence in any security system is a vigilant workforce. A comprehensive security awareness training program can help organisations achieve this level of vigilance.
Here are seven key areas to focus on when implementing a security awareness training program:
1. Cyber Hygiene: Protecting Yourself and Your Organisation
Cyber hygiene is the practice of staying safe and secure online by avoiding risky behaviours such as sharing personal data, falling victim to scams or phishing attacks, and accessing websites or links that may pose a threat. By maintaining good cyber hygiene, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to cybercrimes and scams.
2. Identifying and Addressing Risks: Knowing the Threats
To effectively combat cyber threats, it is crucial to educate employees about the different types of threats they may encounter, such as phishing, malware, social engineering, and insider threats. By understanding these threats, employees can identify and address risks more effectively.
3. Best Practices: Following Established Procedures
Following best practices is essential in maintaining a secure environment. Establishing and implementing best practices in cybersecurity ensures that employees are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate potential threats effectively.
Key best practices in cybersecurity include:
- Regularly updating passwords and using strong, unique passwords for each account
- Being cautious when clicking on links or opening attachments in emails
- Regularly updating software and operating systems to patch any vulnerabilities
- Using secure connections and networks when accessing sensitive information
- Encrypting sensitive data to protect it from unauthorised access
- Being mindful of social media privacy settings and what information is shared online
4. Incident Reporting: Reporting and Responding to Security Incidents
In the event of a security incident, employees should know how to report the incident to the appropriate channels within their organisation. Prompt reporting and response can help minimise the impact of a security breach and prevent further damage.
5. Mobile Security: Protecting Devices and Data
With the increasing use of mobile devices for work purposes, it is essential to educate employees about mobile security best practices. This includes using strong passcodes or biometric authentication, keeping software and apps updated, avoiding risky Wi-fi connections, and being cautious when downloading apps or opening attachments on mobile devices.
6. Phishing Awareness: Recognising and Preventing Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks continue to be a significant threat to organisations. Employees should be trained to recognise phishing emails, messages, or phone calls and understand the techniques used by cybercriminals to trick them into sharing sensitive information or downloading malicious software. By training employees to be vigilant and sceptical, organisations can significantly reduce the success rate of phishing attacks.
7. Ongoing Education and Awareness: Continuous Improvement
Cybersecurity threats and techniques evolve rapidly, so it is crucial to provide ongoing education and awareness to employees. Conducting regular training sessions, sending out newsletters or emails with security tips, and providing updated resources and information allow employees to stay informed and prepared for potential threats.
By incorporating these key areas into a well-structured security awareness training program, organisations can create a culture of security and minimise the risk of cyber threats. It is important to engage with executives and key stakeholders in the development of the program to ensure alignment with organisational objectives and to secure necessary resources.
To effectively implement a security awareness training program, organisations can use a learning management system to structure training content and provide easy access to resources. The frequency and duration of training sessions may vary depending on the organisation’s level of risk exposure and employees’ skill sets. New employees should undergo security awareness training at the beginning of their employment to instill secure practices from the start.
The cost of a security awareness training program will also depend on various factors, such as the size and complexity of the program and the level of customisation required. Smaller organisations may opt for a more standardised introductory program, while larger organisations might need to develop custom programs tailored to specific roles and comprehension levels. Regardless of the approach, the aim should be to continuously assess, evaluate, and test the effectiveness of the program.
In conclusion, cybersecurity awareness is a crucial aspect of an organisation’s overall security strategy. By investing in security awareness training programs, organisations can equip their workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to protect sensitive information and systems from cyber threats. It is important to regularly update and reinforce these programs to address emerging threats and weaknesses. With a vigilant and well-informed workforce, organisations can effectively mitigate the risks associated with cybercrime and safeguard their digital assets.
If you are looking to enhance your cybersecurity awareness and better protect your organisation, consider enroling yourself and your workforce in a comprehensive cybersecurity training course.