Did you know employee error accounts for more than a quarter of all company security breaches? Or that the average expense of a data breach is R36 million, globally? Experts say ransomware is expected to cost businesses R120 billion this year and that nearly 2 billion records were leaked in January 2022 alone. Hackers are improving as technology continues to advance every day.
We want to make sure your staff has the knowledge necessary to prevent a cyberattack so your business won’t be so susceptible. Once you read our post you will have learned how to put together an effective cybersecurity training program for your employees. This is absolutely crucial to a holistic security plan for your organisation.
What is a cybersecurity training program and why is it important?
What is a cybersecurity training program, anyway?
A cybersecurity training program is a series of sessions aimed at providing workers a baseline understanding of the fundamental principles of cybersafety practices. The most effective training programs are usually ongoing, mandatory and led by an experienced IT professional. These classes teach employees what to look out for when they’re online because traps are unfortunately becoming more challenging to spot.
Make training sessions a regular part of your processes and protocols. Consider bringing in experts that specialize in cybersecurity training, even if you have your own internal IT team. Managed services providers (MSPs) have a wealth of knowledge and more years of experience between their team members. They have seen many more security cases, Multi IT & Telephony Solutions, in particular, offers a comprehensive cybersecurity bundle for Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Windhoek areas.
Plus, a managed services provider is used to acting proactively rather than reactively when it comes to business IT. Many MSPs—ourselves included—would happily provide a consultation or come onsite to conduct trainings if you don’t have a dedicated IT leader.
Whatever method you choose, make sure the leader of the sessions has a plan and goes over the basics, at a minimum.
With today’s threats, cybersecurity training is absolutely critical
Whether they’re infamous, lesser-known or brand new, there are too many scams for each employee to keep track of. Cyberattackers try anything they can think of to get into your company’s systems. Some tactics have been tried many times on businesses before, while some are still being devised. The criminal acts that attackers everywhere are plotting can be categorized into three main categories: phishing, hacking and ransomware.
Phishing is when fraudulent emails sent to your network users claim to be from reputable companies but are actually from skilled cybercriminals working on getting valuable information.
Hacking can happen via weak passwords and not being careful on platforms where you share information, such as social media. In 2021, a hack was found to have been compromising data on Marriott hotel guests for several years. The hackers gained access to names, contact information, passport numbers and even credit card numbers.
Ransomware is just what it sounds like: it is a type of malware that, when accidentally downloaded, is programmed to block access to your important systems until a sum of money is paid.
Between recovery efforts and penalties, once your company is compromised, it’s extremely costly to bounce back. Fees can be imposed for record loss depending on your industry, especially for medical, financial and government. In 2020, Google was fined $57 million for violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These fees don’t include costs for the downtime and resources your employees might spend trying to fix things on their own or harm to company reputation.
These categories are the “threat landscape” to keep in mind during your cybersecurity training sessions.
How to create and implement a highly effective cybersecurity training program
Organizations from SMB’s to larger enterprises are finding it costs much less to implement security awareness programs and training than it does to pay the consequences of not having them. Recognizing its value, experts predict that businesses around the world will spend up to R100 billion on cybersecurity awareness by 2027. Corporations and consumers alike are slowly beginning to come together to take a stance against cybercrime.
Your employees are on the front lines, so prepare them to act as a human firewall rather than fall victim to things like identity theft. Equip your organization with the tools to be preventative instead of reactive by implementing cybercrime prevention tactics and arming team members with proper knowledge.
How to make sure your cybersecurity training sessions are effective
Cybersecurity training should be a requirement for all team members. If someone is using your networks, they could be a risk to the company, no matter the department. Everyone should be made clear on the fact that it is a company-wide risk management necessity and should not be taken lightly. If even one person decides it’s optional for them and doesn’t show up, there’s a hole in your security. It’s ineffective, and you could be compromised.
Schedule your cybersecurity training sessions frequently. Hackers are continually creating new scams and technology is always evolving. Hosting training every other year is not enough; your teams’ knowledge base could fall behind and become outdated. You also want to hold these trainings regularly because repetition is one of the most effective ways of teaching. No one takes just one class and remembers everything, forever. The sessions should be serious yet digestible and engaging so that everyone pays attention.
Personalise it and make it applicable to all levels—the knowledge base and specialisation of each attendee will differ. Understand the different positions that will be there and customize the experience as best you can. All types of employees at all departments of the organization, from management to interns, will need to understand the topics and how they apply to their personal roles within the company. Major shareholders, partners, external legal counsel and any vendors you’re letting into your system should all attend cybersecurity training. Everyone will be using your systems to a varying degree.
Define the scope and plan your cybersecurity training program
Each company is different, so each has different needs. Your organization should conduct a business impact assessment as well as a risk assessment to kick off the cybersecurity training process. At that point, the training sessions are designed around your business’s highest risk areas and focus on aspects tailored to your company.
Generally, a cybersecurity training facilitator teaches prevention through smart passwords, dual approval, email filtering and understanding what red flags might look like. Some examples of red flags are an email address that looks fishy because an email was never requested from the sender in the first place, seemingly random links thrown in an email with no context or an email from a supposed “professional” that has a lot of errors.
Social engineering and scams from callers pretending to be tech support and other services should also be on the agenda. An incredible amount of information is constantly shared that could get into the wrong hands in mere seconds. Consider including a review on the following as well:
- Company equipment inventory—especially laptops, phones and tablets
- Establishing guidelines for when accessing public wifi networks during remote work
- Using company technology to store personal files, images and other data
- Dangers surrounding saving work-related files on an external drive
- Access for departments that contain sensitive equipment and data if you use ID badges, etc.
To reduce the risks and potential threats, add new scams to the curriculum as they arise to keep your team’s cybersecurity training as up to date as possible. Create a set plan so everyone knows what to expect. If you do not go into this training with an idea of the goal, you will not know which areas to cover and will inevitably leave gaps. Think of this just as you would an employee safety training program. Cybersecurity training is about safety as well—that of your company, employees and customers.
Therefore, ensure everyone can dedicate the proper time to each session. If you have a larger company, you can segment. Hold a main cybersecurity training session for a large group and then individual sessions breaking out into programs that speak more to their responsibilities and area of expertise. Not every topic covered in each training session will apply in the same way to every department, but everyone needs to know the high-level material to be on the same page.
Implement, monitor and optimise your cybersecurity training program
As mentioned, it’s often a good idea to have a security expert in attendance who can answer questions immediately and describe real-life examples. For those who are more visual types, consider adding videos that they can access on their own time. With video training, ensure there is a method to verify video watch completion. Don’t let anything slip through the cracks or it’ll leave one more window into your company for expert hackers.
If you only have set training once or twice a year, your company intranet, newsletters or emails can be used in between major sessions for quick, regular reminders of the basics. Don’t forget, you may have new staff coming onboard during that time that will need to be caught up to speed if they have missed an official session.
After a few weeks or months post-implementation of your cybersecurity training programming, see what is working and what is not. Analyse and measure to gauge progress—if something is not successful, you’ll know exactly how to make a change for the future. Are people following the standard procedures on which they were instructed? If not, was the point not made clear enough, or do ramifications need to be made for breaches of the process in order to prevent breaches by attackers?
Where you can learn more before getting started
Remember that although these attacks are sometimes obvious, traps are becoming sneakily well-dressed. They’re digital Trojan horses waiting to infiltrate, so companies are finally starting to take notice of the importance of cybersecurity.
Aside from the cybersecurity training, you can of course consider extra layers of preventative measures by investing in solutions like anti-virus software or off-site backups. Keep in mind, your goal is to create a comprehensive business security solution. We’re just zeroing in on one of the biggest dangers that we’ve come to know through our vast experience. The end user is the downfall of companies we see most often.
In other words, more often than not, employees cause that trouble unintentionally. If you did not provide your team members with proper cybersecurity training, they are not at fault.
The best thing to do is have an outsourced team of experts manage everything for you so that you don’t have to worry about whether you, your trainer or your employees missed a critical component. Don’t forget, it’s largely about human error, so the more people you have that truly, thoroughly know what they’re doing, the more of a safety net you’ve made for your organization—and the less likely you are to risk the invaluable trust of your clients.
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