The risks of being online are becoming increasingly severe for companies. In the past two years, 77% of companies suffered at least one cyber incident. It’s understandable, then, that organizations would want to implement measures to mitigate these risks. That’s where cybersecurity awareness training for employees can be useful. For example, according to Kaspersky’s research around threats experienced by companies of different sizes, inappropriate IT resource use and IT security violation by employees pose two of the greatest threats experienced by companies, with the average cost of one incident costing $337,561. Moreover, 38% of cyber incidents in businesses were caused by genuine human error, and 26% was due to information security policy violations.
Security awareness training is an essential tool for companies or organizations that want to effectively protect their data , reduce the number of human-related incidents, reduce the cost of the response and ensure their employees understand how to responsibly handle client data and safely navigate being online. According to Kaspersky’s 2022 report, if employees are aware and understand what they need to do in the case of a security incident, the less the chance of the attacker penetrating the company’s infrastructure. Developed and delivered by IT and security experts, these programs share a common goal to try and help combat the human error that leads to data breaches and stolen information and that can, by extension, lead to financial losses and reputational damage for a company. But what constitutes a successful training program? And how can a company ensure that cybersecurity stays top of mind for employees? Learn the answers to all this and more below.
Security awareness training is an educational program that can take many different forms. But, all programs have one ultimate goal: to equip a company’s employees with the knowledge and skills they need to protect the organization’s data and sensitive information from hacking, phishing, or other breaches which in turn will protect the company’s IT infrastructure. There are many different aspects to cyber awareness training, and a good program will cover many of these to give employees a holistic skillset for safely managing data and online activity.
By law, some companies are required to comply with certain industry regulations, such as
the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or even the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and as part of these examples, they must deliver cyber security training for employees. This usually happens once or twice a year to keep employees up to date on the latest cybersecurity issues, which are constantly evolving.
Because so many cybersecurity breaches can be the result of human error and social engineering, companies need to ensure their employees are aware of how vulnerable they are to attacks and breaches and are able to counter these threats as much as possible. This is why security awareness training for employees is crucial. Effective cyber awareness training educates employees about what cybersecurity threats exist against the company, helps them understand potential vulnerabilities, and teaches them the appropriate habits for recognizing signs of danger and avoiding breaches and attacks as well as what to do if they made a mistake or they have any doubts. In addition, many companies will need to implement cybersecurity training to ensure it meets compliance regulations.
Successful security awareness programs empower employees to understand their responsibility for cybersecurity in the company and to be on guard when working with company data—while online, while using company devices, and both in the office and when working remotely. This can significantly lessen a company’s vulnerability to cyberattacks and data breaches.
According to Kaspersky’s 2023 Human Factor Survey, when analyzing the non-human error factor of how security incidents are caused in the workplace, the most common employee factor was the downloading of malware, and the second; using weak passwords or failing to change them regularly. This highlights the need for a good security awareness program to be comprehensive, covering a variety of elements that come together to give employees a holistic view of cybersecurity and what it means for the company. These might include, for example, learning good password hygiene habits, being able to recognize social engineering scams, exhibiting safe email habits, and following legal regulations.
While there are many security topics that could be covered, each company’s program will be slightly different based on their needs. However, many elements of cybersecurity threats and protections will be relevant to every organization, as outlined below:
A good cybersecurity awareness training program needs to not only cover all the topics mentioned above, but should also incorporate various formats, making the training engaging and using techniques that aid in remembering the material. Additionally, a good training program must include numerous real-world cases for employees to feel the connection with reality. A well-rounded training should not just answer questions about what is and is not allowed, but also address "what if" scenarios and what to do if a cybersecurity solution fails to detect a threat and an attack occurs. Reinforcing skills through simulations or gamification elements is also incredibly important.
Having a comprehensive understanding of security awareness is important, but implementing the right strategies is equally essential. So, what strategies should companies be trying to cultivate through cybersecurity awareness training for employees? There are numerous measures that companies can take to improve the likelihood of success of their programs. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
In Kaspersky’s 2023 Human Factor 360 report, survey respondents were asked where their company was most likely to make investments in cybersecurity in the next 12-18 months and it highlighted that 39% of respondents were interested in investing in trainings for cybersecurity professionals, and 38% were likely to invest in general training in employees, amongst other areas. It is therefore crucial to understand that increasing and investing in the cyber literacy of employees is a necessary measure to ensure comprehensive protection of a company. Not only this, but it is very important to choose the right educational program that will cover all the necessary topics and contain modern approaches to teaching to truly influence cyber behavior change. By involving all levels in the organization, even C-level, along with the support of the company’s management, this will lead to the successful implementation and maintenance of a cybersecure environment.
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