Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Program Development

Cybersecurity Awareness Program – What is it and Why Does your Organization Need it?

Cybersecurity awareness training is vital education that provides a company’s agents the knowledge they need to protect confidential information and the systems that house that information. “Agents” of the company can include either freelance contractors, full or part-time employees, vendors, and any other individuals who share, store, edit, or access data important to the business.

Cybersecurity awareness training courses have a single main objective, and that is to change employee behaviors that may amplify risk to the business.

The most effective cybersecurity awareness training classes use real-world examples, phishing simulations, other web-based communication, and reinforcement tools. Working in tandem with one-to-one education, they ensure company agents can recognize cyber threats like ransomware, phishing, spear phishing, social engineering, malware, and more.

Why Do I Need a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program?

One of the most overlooked elements in cybersecurity is employees. Improperly trained staff provide hackers with numerous opportunities to compromise your network. This new climate of cybercrime and online threats necessitates user education and engagement. Your employees MUST be aware of the threats and how to combat them. Technology alone is not sufficient to protect your network. Cybersecurity awareness training is invaluable, inexpensive, and very often overlooked.

Criminals will always target your human resources first. Attacks via targeted phishing emails, scam calls, ransomware, business email compromise, and fraudulent websites have become increasingly common. It’s difficult to quantify the number of successful attacks, but the financial loss is astronomical. The damage ranges from losing personal information to exposing social security numbers to multi-million-dollar payments re-routed to hacker-controlled bank accounts. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 82% of data breaches are tied to some form of human interaction, such as a social media attack, human error, and/or misuse.

Why is Cybersecurity Awareness Training So Important?

Technology can play a significant role in protecting your business from bad actors, but technology alone can not provide your organization with sufficient protection from cyber-attacks and data breaches. Cybersecurity awareness training courses, programs, newsletters, lunch and learn sessions, and campaigns can assist in keeping employees and agents of the company up to date on the tactics of criminals who seek to undermine your company’s security by manipulating the ‘human factor’.

Having the right technology in place is important but focusing on your people and making them aware of the tactics bad actors employ to gain access to secure data is the best defense against cyber criminals.

What Should These Programs Cover?

Rather than expecting a canned list of topics, the program should be tailored to your employees risks and needs. The training should cover at a minimum relevant Cyber Threats, proper cyber hygiene, and what to do if they think they were victimized. That said, these are subjects all employees need to know. Everyone should experience simulated threats. You never want an employee’s first exposure to an attack to be from a hacker.

Another area is internal network security. For example, if they notice an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot, it needs to be reported. If they see passwords being shared, they need to report it. Your password policy should require employees to utilize complex passwords that are frequently changed. Providing guidance and preventative measures can go a long way in preventing a cyber incident and saving your company!!

An Effective Security Policy Should be the Focus of Cybersecurity Awareness Training

A security policy is a company document outlining how to protect the organization from threats, including cyber security threats, and how to handle adverse situations when they occur. But having a comprehensive security policy in place is only half the battle.

Developing a security policy and training your employees to follow it should be a primary objective of any effective cybersecurity awareness campaign. It should include procedures to prevent and detect issues, as well as guidelines for conducting insider threat investigations. It should also spell out the potential consequences of a failure to follow the security policy.

Effective cybersecurity awareness training will often come back to this document, as it provides clear instructions on how to handle data and clear information on the consequences of failing to do so.

The document should outline the key items in the company that need to be protected. This might include the company’s internal network, its data, infrastructure, and more. It will also outline the potential threats to those items, and what employees can do to minimize or negate those threats. An effective security policy will also consider the possibility that threats could include those from the inside, such as disgruntled employees stealing important information or an insider launching a virus on the company’s network.

The Bottom Line: You Need To Be Prepared

We all want to believe the best of others… our employees, our customers, and the community we serve. But the simple fact is that bad actors exist, and without preparing for adverse events, they could cause serious damage to your business, your data, and your reputation.

No matter what tools you offer your employees, it will never be enough to prevent security issues. Firewalls, anti-virus software, and other programs can only go so far. Internal threats, data breaches, and cyberattacks will still occur. For example, as many as half of all businesses will report falling victim to a data breach this year. Even more, will experience some form of attempted cyber-attack. On any given day there are numerous attempts to get inside your network, with proper training and protocols in place these attempts will not be successful.

Where does all of this damage come from? Believe it or not, most small businesses experience data breaches from within. It isn’t malicious actors doing most of the damage. Instead, most small businesses find themselves suffering due to negligent employees. The best tools, used poorly, can cause even more damage than no tools at all. So, what can you do to get the most out of your tools?

The short answer is cybersecurity awareness training, as part of a Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Program..

Cybersecurity Awareness Checklist

  • Do your employees reuse passwords? If they do, they need to stop. Every service and login should use a different password.
  • Do your employees use two or multi-factor authentication? They should. Even if passwords leak, people won’t be able to access compromised accounts without the authentication method.
  • Do your employees click on unsolicited emails? This is the biggest place employees are attacked. Never answer unsolicited password change e-mails or click unknown links. Always verify emails received with your department.
  • Would your employees use a USB drive they found somewhere? Hackers sometimes leave decoy USB sticks in public spaces, hoping people will plug them into their computers. Only use work-approved devices.
  • Do your employees trust you? An employee should feel that you are reachable for advice on security issues. In addition, your employees should feel they can come to you if they feel something is fishy.
  • Do your employees know what to do if there is a data breach? What about if their computer is compromised?

Go through this checklist with your employees. If any of them answer no in several areas, you know exactly where to start your training program

Arruda Group will develop and adapt strategies, goals, and objectives to build and manage a global cybersecurity education and awareness program focusing on threat actor and employee behavior, emerging technology, and risk.

We apply our understanding of threat actor behavior, human nature, cybersecurity fundamentals, and organizational culture to identify areas where mitigation is necessary to alleviate developing threats.

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