The threat of cyberattacks and other online crime is very real, and it’s getting worse.

The first half of this year saw a massive increase in the number of ransomware and other cyberattacks against business, local governments, hospitals, and other industries.

But studies show that the leading cause of actual infections and data breaches is actually human error inside the organization.

It may not be malicious. Most often, someone innocently clicks a link in an email that appears perfectly okay.

Why You Need Cybersecurity Training

Firewalls and malware detectors can block a lot. But even the most expensive and sophisticated security measures aren’t enough if employees at all levels of your organization aren’t sufficiently trained in cybersecurity awareness.

Here are the main things to keep in mind when creating a cybersecurity training program for your organization.

Cybersecurity First, Last, and Always

Cybersecurity experts agree it’s necessary for organizations to train their people early and often.

This may seem expensive and cumbersome. But the effort and expense are nothing compared to the cost of an actual cyberattack.

For starters, new hires should be introduced to your company’s security policies and practices.

But after that, a one-hour training session once a year is not enough to keep up with changing threats. Cybersecurity awareness needs to be ongoing and ingrained into your organization’s culture.

Above all, employees need to know:

  • Why they should care about cybersecurity,
  • What are your organization’s cybersecurity policies and procedures,
  • What are their specific cybersecurity roles and responsibilities,
  • How they can contribute to improved cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is an Employee Benefit

Employees often complain that cybersecurity is the IT department’s job, not theirs. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

On the contrary, employees are the targets of most cybercrime, especially phishing emails.

To change this attitude, point out the employee benefits of cybersecurity awareness. Those include a safer and more productive work environment — not to mention job security: A cyberattack can drive a company out of business. Some 60 percent of businesses fail within six months of a ransomware attack.

What Should Cybersecurity Training Cover?

In developing a cybersecurity education program, it’s critical to understand three things at the outset:

  1. Which information needs to be protected (e.g. personnel and financial data, intellectual property, strategic plans)
  2. What are the risks (e.g. phishing, data breaches, denial of service attacks)\
  3. What security measures are needed (e.g. firewalls, user authentication)

In addition, training topics should be both general and specific to the organization or job role.

For instance, accounting and HR departments work with applications that may have security concerns different from software used by other departments.

Do you have servers or cloud storage on-site? If so, employees need training on physical security measures like key cards or biometric scanners.

Training Upstairs and Outside Your Office

Don’t think that training is just for onsite staff.

Their high level of access makes the C-suite a prime target for spear phishing. Unlike other employees, executives who travel abroad may be subject to espionage by foreign governments or other actors.

If staff or contractors work remotely, then you must include training on mobile device security and the use of home and public networks. If you have a VPN, it should be featured.

Ongoing Awareness and Preparedness

One trip to the gym doesn’t make you fit. You need to work out regularly.

A good cybersecurity training program makes use of both formal and informal education that provides daily reinforcement. That way, safe practices become ingrained in the way your employees do their work.

For example, provide ongoing news and education through a dedicated channel (e.g. on Microsoft Teams) or an internal newsletter.

Some cybersecurity vendors can provide you with simulated phishing campaigns to train your employees. When done for education and practice, and not as “gotcha” tests, such efforts have been shown to improve security and employee confidence.

As a side benefit, these campaigns obtain company-specific data that can reveal where your security policies and training need to be shored up.

The Business Case for Cybersecurity

In short, cybersecurity needs to be part of the way you do business and manage risk overall. It’s not something separate for IT to handle alone. On the contrary, with all the threats online today, cybersecurity needs to become part of your organizational culture.

Writes TechTarget: “The importance of security awareness training lies in its ability to build end users’ internal alarm systems so that … they pause and reconsider before handing cybercriminals the keys to the castle.”

PC Professional provides cybersecurity education and training for all levels of your organization. Contact us today to learn how we can help keep you safe and secure.