Cybersecurity threats are at an all-time high, and employees are among the weakest links when it comes to data security. This is because employees can be easily deceived by phishing scams, malware, spam emails, and other similar hacking attempts. Many companies are now prioritizing employee training to prevent data breaches. By raising awareness of the numerous types of threats and equipping workers with appropriate skills, data breaches can be significantly reduced in any organization.
The key to a successful employee training program is being knowledgeable of your risk environment, dedicating enough resources, and is committed to raising awareness of cybersecurity threats. In this way, your team will be prepared to detect and respond to various types of risk in a manner that maintains data security. Getting started with a cybersecurity training program for employees is perhaps the biggest step that you’ll need to take.
Here are critical elements that your cybersecurity training program should include so as to raise the appropriate awareness levels.
1. Develop A Dedicated Team To Facilitate Training
Even with the most appropriate framework in place; you will have limited success without dedicating a team to carry out pivotal training tasks. In other words, you need to collaborate with various departments within the organization so as to cover all critical elements of your risk environment. Different departments may face varying levels of risk, which is why the training program should include a variety of platforms, resources, and personnel. This is the best way of covering all your bases and providing a holistic training program for your employees.
Your training team may include many different personnel within the organization. For example, senior managers can provide oversight and long-term goals, while HR staff can give useful insight into the current skills and responsibilities of each employee within the program. Privacy officers advise on the different categories of personal information and what the company may need to do to protect such data. Align the different functions of your interdepartmental team in a manner that boosts employee awareness of cybersecurity threats.
2. Assess Cybersecurity Risks Facing Your Business
In order for your training program to be effective, you need a robust understanding of the current risk environment. Being aware of the threats your company faces is the first step to developing appropriate responses that prevent data breaches. Developing a risk profile may sound easier than it actually is. Not only do you need to be aware of all data collection, storage, and processing platforms, but you should also gain insight into vendor systems that may help in processing company data. Indeed, many breaches occur from third-party systems that may expose your company data to threats.
When developing a training program, you should be aware of the types of data being collected by various departments, data storage techniques, and vendor processing systems. This information will help you identify weak spots in your data workflows so you can train employees in covering up such loopholes.
3. Raising Awareness Of The Most Common Types Of Threats
As much as your employees can be the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, they’re also valuable assets during risk response. Your employees form the first line of defense against incoming data breaches, which is why they should be made aware of the most common types of data security threats. A significant part of your training program should include raising awareness about the most relevant IT threats facing your business. Some of the most common cybersecurity threats include:
Phishing is a type of attack aimed at siphoning information from unsuspecting employees. These messages are designed to look genuine so as to compel your employees to disclose sensitive information. For example, an email can be formatted to look like it came from a supervisor, and the email will request for usernames, passwords, or financial information that shouldn’t be shared with unauthorized persons. By training your employees to identify phishing messages, you can significantly reduce the level of risk exposure.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks up your system and prevents you from carrying out essential company tasks. It may come in the form of software that locks your system and paralyzes critical operations. By training employees on how to identify suspicious links, email attachments, and malicious software, you can reduce the likelihood of ransomware and keep your company data safe.
- Social engineering
Social engineering involves the use of various tools to manipulate a recipient into sharing sensitive information. This technique leverages social interactions and emotions to deceive a recipient into sharing company data with unauthorized persons. Training employees on how to keep a level head and avoid emotional decisions can help protect company data in the face of social engineering attacks.
4. Knowledge Of Local And Federal Regulations
Your employee training program should also inform workers on relevant local and federal regulations that govern data security. Such regulations are the foundation of compliance, and they determine how your company handles data on a daily basis. Employees should be aware of the basic elements of data governance and how their specific responsibilities could affect compliance. By establishing a culture of personal accountability, every worker is more likely to take data security seriously. The end result is fewer violations and data security threats.
5. A Clear Communication Framework
Communication is the foundation of any successful training program. Your employees should be aware of why such a program is necessary, what they can expect to get out of it, and how they can provide feedback. It’s about getting everyone on board and communicating clear expectations during every step of the program. In this way, the training will evolve into a teamwork effort rather than a one-way street that may produce mixed results.
6. Train Employees On Appropriate Security Controls
Cybersecurity training should include a framework for informing employees on relevant security controls. Your workers should be aware of password protocols, firewalls, vendor risk management, and network operations. This information will help them respond to incoming threats and detect loopholes before a breach occurs. Furthermore, security controls provide a framework that third-party vendors can adhere to so as to keep your company data safe.
7. Make The Training Exciting
Cybersecurity training can wear heavily on your employees. Indeed, the financial and reputational risks of a single data security breach can be significant, which is why such training is so critical. However, companies should still find ways of making training exciting and enjoyable for employees. You can introduce awards for performance or challenges that make the material more friendly for employees to consume. Also, break up the training modules into easily digestible segments that don’t take away from the overall importance of your training program.
8. Regular Reviews Of Efficiency
Finally, your cybersecurity training program should be driven by continuous feedback. Pay attention to what your employees are complaining about what they like and what they would like to see change. Incorporate their feedback into your future training modules to improve the effectiveness of these initiatives. In this way, you can continue to raise the bar on data security within your organization without compromising your bottom line.
The reality is that most businesses face many different threats within cyberspace. Those who don’t have a strategy for operating within this environment could fall victim to hacking and experiencing significant disruptions to daily operations. Cybersecurity training is a critical part of any risk management plan. By equipping employees with the necessary skills to detect and respond to hacking attempts, you can create a stronger front line against threats and tackle data breaches during their early stages. The steps outlined in this guide will form the foundation of any effective employee training program with regard to cybersecurity.