Your employees are your first line of defense against cyber-attacks. It is essential to have the right security software and procedures, but missing out on creating a cybersecurity-aware environment for your employees would be a fatal mistake.
Providing your employees with an approachable cybersecurity awareness program allows you to increase the chances of detecting and reducing the likelihood of a cyber-attack before it is fully implemented. Thus, you minimize damage to your company and reduce the recovery costs.
This is where cybersecurity awareness training begins – from providing your staff members with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves, and therefore, your company from cybercriminals. Below, you will find all the necessary information to build awareness among your employees.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS PLAN
One of the most effective ways to educate your staff is to implement a cybersecurity program and training topics considering your company’s culture, objectives, personnel policy, and funding. At this point, signing up for cybersecurity consulting remains the most helpful way to create a comprehensive awareness program from which your organization will only benefit.
The company’s employee awareness system should consist of best practices that meet the following requirements:
- possibility to regularly train any number of employees, regardless of their physical location and without interrupting the work process
- simplicity and accessibility of training materials for different categories of employees
- ability to quickly introduce changes into awareness-raising programs and training materials, depending on the latest cyberattacks
The continuity of this process is a vital aspect of building employee awareness on security issues. Legislation and regulatory requirements are changing rapidly, new threats and information systems are emerging – all of this needs to be promptly reflected in security awareness programs.
For your employees, the continuity of training implies regular repeating of the information security system’s rules. It is also essential to provide all employees with relevant information about the changes in the security policies and procedures to avoid data breaches.
Any proper cybersecurity awareness training should include the following elements:
- current security threats
- protective procedures
- threat response plans
- guidelines on using technologies, both at work and in private life
Cybersecurity awareness training should always be based on real-world attack simulations that match the latest criminal trends. Hackers are constantly improving their approaches and technologies, so your company should always increase its training level to ensure that the vulnerability remains at a low level.
STICK TO DEMING CYCLE
Deming Cycle is a four-step – plan-do-check-act – management approach used in many cybersecurity regulations and standards (for example, ISO 27001). You can also apply it to building cybersecurity awareness within your organization.
At this stage, you need to set training objectives, acquire a cybersecurity awareness program and put it into operation, and prepare all the necessary training materials, organizational and administrative documents needed to conduct training sessions.
Your employees need more than a simple training module, a strong password, or a basic online course. It would be reasonable to invest in professional cybersecurity awareness consultants. They can work directly with your organization’s needs, and develop a security strategy considering your unique corporate structure, data sensitivity, and staff needs.
To ensure that your company’s security culture will develop correctly, employees must understand why sensitive data needs to be protected, what types of confidential information are used in the company, what threats exist, and what protective measures they should use and how.
Before using a distance learning system, instruct your staff and teach them how to use it correctly, and make sure to issue training tasks and monitor their implementation. One of the most beneficial ways to reinforce cybersecurity awareness is to send simulated phishing and malicious messages to employees to determine how they respond. It is then crucial to conduct targeted training to expose mistakes and vulnerabilities in your employees’ actions and explain how to respond securely.
At this stage, the most crucial element is the control of employee training. It is necessary to have feedback to evaluate training effectiveness, using tests or surveys on security policies’ knowledge.
The next step is to evaluate the effectiveness of the training program’s implementation, which includes assessing employees’ knowledge and skills and analyzing changes in the statistics of cybersecurity incidents.
These are commonly used methods to check the efficiency of cyber awareness training:
- collecting and analyzing the cybersecurity risk statistics in the company
- conducting open audits (tests, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, etc.)
- running hidden checks (phone calls and emails of a provocative nature using social engineering techniques, monitoring users’ actions)
A comprehensive approach to the program evaluation allows you to determine if the program meets the company’s cybersecurity policy requirements and how what changes you should introduce next if needed.
This step is needed for correcting, updating, and improving training materials. Usually, the revision of training programs is required after significant changes in the legislation, regulatory documents, requirements of the company’s data security, and rules for storing and processing personal data.
However, protecting your company from cyber-attacks should become an integral part of your company’s operation. It is recommended to conduct annual cyber awareness training and keep your staff up-to-date with best practices, as new threats, malware, and phishing attacks are developed regularly.
Raising staff awareness is the key to the high efficiency of the entire security system as a whole. It allows you to prevent most of the risks, initially provoked by the lack of basic knowledge, and determine the most vulnerable spots in your company’s operation.
The ultimate goal of implementing cybersecurity awareness courses is to reduce the damage and losses (material, moral, and reputational) from threats related to human error when working with the company’s information resources. Since most staff members are not specialists in the cybersecurity field, the tools and materials used in the program should be easy to understand, engaging, and as clear as possible.