Security Awareness Training: What It Teaches and Why It’s Important
Security awareness training is designed to teach employees good cybersecurity habits to minimize security risks. The educational approach empowers employees with tools and knowledge to protect against security threats.
Your organization is only as secure as your weakest link, and employees are easier to compromise than your technology. Social engineering scams like phishing and business email compromise are geared to exploit human vulnerabilities and trusted relationships.
Sophisticated email scams demonstrate the importance of security awareness training. Employees need the skills to combat cyber threats–especially the threats that slip past defenses.
Why Security Awareness Training is Important
By teaching employees security awareness, you are building a stronger cybersecurity system.
A robust cybersecurity network is more than just practical tools and techniques. Enforcing good habits with employees makes a huge difference in protecting your network. A combination of security-trained employees and a strong network reduces risks and keeps organizations safe from threats.
Security awareness training can help prevent social engineering cyberattacks, the biggest causes of cybercrime losses. These attacks evade traditional cybersecurity defenses and prey on human error. It’s not just monetary loss: social engineering attacks can hurt your organization’s reputation and expose sensitive data.
The rise in remote work has also led to an increased need to train employees on security awareness. Cybercriminals have used security weaknesses in remote work setups as an entry point for attacks. Employees need the training to help protect themselves and their organization.
Finally, training employees is a necessary step towards security compliance.
How To Train Employees for Cybersecurity
An organization's security team is usually responsible for training employees on cybersecurity best practices. This program should include:
A hands-on rundown of common cyberattacks.
Phishing tests to teach employees how to recognize these attacks.
Industry and company-specific training highlighting unique threats to an org or team.
Security awareness training varies across industries. For example, a healthcare company faces different threats compared to a software company. You should consult with a cybersecurity provider to create a tailored security awareness program for your employees.
Small businesses often don’t have a dedicated security team or a budget to hire cybersecurity experts. It may help to use these resources to create an inexpensive security awareness training program:
The Federal Communication Commission's Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0
Department of Homeland Security's C3 Voluntary Program Small and Midsize Business Toolkit
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's Cyber Essentials Toolkit
Security awareness training is not a one-and-done event. Cybersecurity is constantly evolving, and it's important to make sure that your employees are updated. Especially if there are any changes to company policies, procedures, or cyber threats. You may want to update your employees every quarter or as often as necessary to ensure cybersecurity protocols are continually practiced.
What Does a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program Teach?
Generally, cybersecurity awareness training should teach employees how to safely use computers, online communication, and networks. It should answer the question of why security awareness training is important and empower employees as part of the cybersecurity defense system. A security awareness training program may include:
Password policies: A weak password is often the gateway to an account takeover or a brute force attack. Ensure your employees understand what makes a strong password and remind them of any company policies regarding how often to change passwords. This may also be a good time to enforce multi-factor authentication to make it harder for criminals to hack accounts.
Secure remote work practices: Remote employees tend to use their own devices and networks to work on their projects. Organizations must provide security awareness training on how to make a remote environment secure. This may involve tasks like having employees validate their WiFi networks and keeping antivirus software updated.
Recognizing potentially malicious emails: Employees should learn how to recognize social engineering attacks, phishing emails, and other scams. There are numerous signs employees can look for in a potentially malicious email. Employees should also learn what to do when they receive one or fall victim to a scam. You may have a company policy regarding these types of situations, and it's important to ensure that employees know how to respond to a malicious email.
Current cyber threats: Leaders should regularly update employees on potential cyber threats. This helps keep security awareness a priority for employees. For example, if a competitor recently suffered a data breach, you may want to share this with your employees to remind them of the consequences of not staying vigilant. Keeping employees informed will help them continue to practice cybersecurity protocols. Focus on your specific industry to make lessons more relevant and applicable.
Is Security Awareness Training Enough?
Employees are certainly an integral part of a strong cybersecurity network. But cybersecurity needs a layered approach to keep data secure. Security awareness doesn’t work without security systems in place. Organizations need to implement robust technological defenses to protect their network on top of educating their user base.
Email is a common threat vector and advanced email security software could help protect your employees' inboxes from emails with malicious intent. Abnormal Security offers inbound email protection and can mitigate email security threats like credential phishing.
If you're ready to improve your email security, try a demo and learn how we can protect your organization.