Many companies fail to understand the importance of having a well-rounded cybersecurity awareness training program. Some companies think that having a one-time phishing course for new employees will be sufficient in preventing cyberattacks. Other companies just don’t see a reason to spend the money on a security awareness training program at all. Unfortunately, cybercrime is bound to take place at every company, and a one-time phishing course is not going to be enough to keep cyber threats at bay.
There are several reasons to invest in a good security awareness training program, but they all boil down to the fact that you don't want to lose the business you've worked so hard to develop. Successful cyberattacks can lead to full-blown data breaches, the average global cost of which is $3.86 million, according to the 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report. This includes loss of customers and customer trust, tarnished reputation, legal fees, and more. These damages are not something that a small or even mid-sized business could afford to take. That's why it's important to understand employees are your first line of defense against these sorts of attacks. To prevent a catastrophic breach, employees must know what they're up against and be trained on the fundamentals of cybersecurity.
There are 5 essential topics that need to be covered in any cybersecurity awareness program:
Phishing: Phishing is the attempt to gain sensitive information through digital communication. Hackers often use this attack method to gain account credentials, credit card numbers, social security numbers, banking information, and many other types of confidential information. Phishing emails can be highly sophisticated, with most being almost impossible for the untrained eye to detect, and roughly 91% of all cybercrimes start with a phishing scam, so this attack method cannot be overlooked. The best cybersecurity awareness programs greatly emphasize phishing scams and how to spot them. Some common signs of phishing are misspelled words, fake sender information, urgency, and the sender will often be demanding something important. When questioning whether an email is legit, the best thing to do is to send it to your IT/Security department so that they may review it.
Malware: Malware is another fundamental topic that must be covered in training. Malware is short for malicious software, and it typically consists of code written by cybercriminals with the intent to cause damage to a computer or network. Often, hackers will use it to gain unauthorized access to a network, making it extremely dangerous. All employees should understand what malware is, why it's a risk to your business, and how to identify it. They must also understand the best practices for containing malware if a device becomes infected. An essential part of this training is covering the different types of malware, such as worms, trojans, spyware, adware, etc. This will help employees better understand the behavior of each specific type of malware.
Social Engineering: Social engineering is a broader topic that will help all employees understand a hacker’s mindset. Skillful hackers will not make it known when they are trying to steal information or take down a system. They will often use social engineering to manipulate victims into giving them sensitive information. Employees need to know the signs of social engineering and how to discern when someone is trying to deceive them to get confidential information.
Passwords: Having a strong password is crucial when it comes to security. Hackers can be very successful in their attacks when employees have weak passwords. A good cybersecurity awareness program should cover how to create a complex password and why having a complex password is so important. This part of the training should cover brute force attacks and how cybercriminals can automate this attack to obtain a user’s password.
Mobile Device Security: Many companies allow their employees to use their own devices for work. Other companies allow their employees to take their laptops home and work remotely. Employees need to understand all the security risks involved when using a personal laptop for work or when using a work laptop at home. This training should cover multi-factor authentication, VPNs, Secure Wi-Fi networks, Antivirus software, and how to download applications securely.
While many other topics within cybersecurity would be great to cover, these are some of the most important. Great security starts with people, and it's up to companies to make sure that they train their employees well. Covering these main topics will help prevent companies from becoming victims of a successful cyberattack.
Learn more about how TechGuard Security can help build a customized security awareness training program for your organization.
Written by Blake Potter
Blake Potter is a Cyber Security Intern at TechGuard Security where he assists with security related tasks. He is currently a senior at Maryville University studying Cyber Security and plans on becoming a security analyst once he graduates. Blake has a background in IT Support, customer service, and Cyber Security support. In his free time, Blake enjoys working out, playing sports, and spending time with friends and family.