Cyberattacks on businesses are increasing and data breaches are being reported at record levels, yet many businesses are not providing cybersecurity awareness training to their employees, and instead only implement technical defenses to block malware, ransomware, phishing, and social engineering attacks.
Cybersecurity solutions such as spam filters, web filters, and antivirus software are essential for blocking threats. When a defense-in-depth strategy is adopted and multiple solutions are deployed, the majority of threats that target employees will be identified and blocked. However, it doesn’t matter how good your technology is, nor how many solutions you use, some threats will be encountered by employees in their inboxes and when surfing the web that could easily result in a data breach, and bad employee security practices could easily open the door to hackers. The 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report suggests 82% of data breaches are due to the human element. Those breached companies had technical defenses in place, but those protections were undone by the actions of employees.
Cybersecurity awareness training involves educating all members of the workforce about the risk of cyberattacks, explaining how cybercriminals gain access to company resources, and showing employees how they can improve security and avoid being tricked into installing malicious code, making a fraudulent transaction, or disclosing sensitive information that could allow the company to be attacked. Employees are the weakest link in security, and if nothing is done to improve human defenses, human vulnerabilities will be exploited. The cost of the cyberattacks and data breaches that occur will be far higher than the cost of providing cybersecurity awareness training and businesses will see a good return on their investment.
What are the Benefits of Cybersecurity Awareness Training?
Cybersecurity awareness training should be part of your risk management strategy. Cybercriminals target employees because it is usually much easier to trick an employee into providing their credentials than it is to identify and exploit a vulnerability in a software solution, and the number of attacks on employees is increasing.
Phishing involves sending emails to employees that request they open a malicious attachment or click a link to a malicious website, with social engineering techniques used to trick the employee into doing so. The email requests often seem perfectly reasonable, and while the emails seem legitimate at first glance, they will contain red flags. Employees need to be trained to always look for the signs of phishing and be taught cybersecurity best practices that they should always follow.
By providing regular training, organizations will be able to:
- Reduce the susceptibility of employees to cyberattacks
- Improve their security posture
- Reduce human error
- Meet regulatory standards for security
- Improve the confidence of customers and business partners
- Prevent data breaches
Conduct a Gap Analysis to Identify the Biggest Risks
Some individuals in the company are likely to be very tech savvy and may already check every inbound email for the signs of phishing, take care when using the Internet, avoid public Wi-Fi networks, and set a unique, complex password for every single account. However, at the other end of the spectrum will be employees who do none of those things. Providing a single training course for everyone is therefore not the best use of resources. When employees are undergoing training, they are not working, so there will be unnecessary productivity losses.
A good approach to take is to conduct a gap analysis around security and compliance best practices to assess the level of security awareness of each individual and their understanding of security risks. The results of the gap analysis will identify the employees that are at the highest risk and the gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed. Cybersecurity awareness training can then be provided accordingly.
Ideal Frequency of Cybersecurity Awareness Training
In an ideal world, you could provide training once and every employee would take the training on board, apply what they have learned every day, and would not need to be trained again. In reality, training needs to be provided regularly as employees will forget certain aspects of their training and may engage in risky behaviors. In 2020, a study was conducted to investigate whether, and to what extent, phishing awareness and education deteriorated over time. The study was conducted on 409 employees who were evaluated on their knowledge of security awareness and phishing and assessed over time to see if there was any change in that knowledge.
Immediately after and four months after training, there was a significantly improved performance in correctly identifying phishing and legitimate emails; however, after 6 months there was no significant difference in the ability to identify phishing emails, indicating that refresher cybersecurity training is essential and that it should be provided at least every 6 months. If you use a cybersecurity awareness training platform with modular training elements, it is easy to provide training continuously at a rate of one or two modules a month. This approach will help to ensure that employees do not forget about security and training is properly reinforced. One recent survey found that only 16% of organizations conduct cybersecurity awareness training less frequently than every 6 months. 38% were found to provide training monthly, which many organizations considering this to be the sweet spot.
Ensure Your Training Content is Engaging
If you are going to take employees away from their work duties for training, it is important to get the very best return on your investment, and that means ensuring the training has the desired effect. You need to engage employees, as cybersecurity is not an interesting topic for many people. You should use gamified and fun training material, that uses a combination of training approaches, and allows training content to be tailored to individuals, roles, and departments. The training should relate to each role and be relatable to employees’ working lives.
Conduct Phishing Tests on Your Employees
After providing training, you should conduct phishing tests on your employees. Send realistic phishing emails to employees to see if they are applying their training and to find out which types of threats are not correctly identified. Phishing simulations are a valuable training tool. They give employees practice at identifying phishing threats and identify individuals who would be fooled by real phishing emails. You can then adjust your training course accordingly to address knowledge gaps and can provide targeted training to the individuals who need it. Simulation data can also be provided to the board to demonstrate the return on investment from training.
The SafeTitan Cybersecurity Awareness Training and Phishing Simulation Platform
SafeTitan is a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training platform for businesses that allows personalized training to be provided to all employees. The modular training content is delivered in bite-sized chunks and is engaging, gamified, and fun. The platform includes a phishing simulator with hundreds of phishing templates for conducting internal phishing tests, and organizations that have adopted the platform and have conducted regular phishing simulations have reduced susceptibility to phishing attacks by up to 92%.
For more information, details of pricing, or to book a product demonstration, give the TitanHQ team a call.