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Cyber Attack Examples that Security Awareness Training Could Have Prevented

Posted by Trevagh Stankard on Thu, Dec 8th, 2022

Numerous studies show that security awareness training reduces risk of a data compromise for an organization. Security awareness training empowers employees to understand the implications of a data breach and identify attacks including phishing and social engineering. With the reduction of risks, organizations gain numerous other benefits including lowered security costs, better compliance, and better cybersecurity understanding. Any organization that skips security training when onboarding employees could be putting their data at risk.


Common Cyber-Attack Strategies

At the heart of most attacks is a phishing campaign. Most of the biggest data breaches started with a phishing email. Target was one of the first victims of a massive data breach, and the entire saga started with a phishing email. To make matters worse, the initial compromise was a third-party vendor with access to the Target network.

Along with phishing, social engineering is also a common strategy. In some scenarios, social engineering is combined with phishing. An attacker might start with a phishing email and follow up with social engineering to ensure a successful breach. Social engineering is an added benefit for a sophisticated threat where an attacker could successfully steal millions from a target.

As an example, an attacker might target a busy office. An email with a malicious link goes out to several staff members encouraging them to click the link to access a document. Phishing always involves a sense of urgency where the targeted user thinks they must quickly take care of an issue. The goal is to stop users from thinking that some of the content in the email seems suspicious.

In many current attacks, the goal for an attacker is to install ransomware on the local machine and the corporate network. Ransomware works quickly, so it happens before the employee knows how to stop it or report it so that administrators can contain it quickly. Many targeted organizations don’t have the resources or the staff to deal with a sophisticated ransomware threat.

In addition to ransomware’s threat, many organizations skip any kind of security awareness training and don’t have the infrastructure to detect it. Small businesses think that they are not targets because of their size. Some businesses think that their data isn’t valuable, but every environment has critical files that could be devastating to corporate productivity if they were damaged. Researchers warn that attackers target small businesses because they know that a small business does not have the same enterprise-level cybersecurity as a larger business.

Once ransomware infects the environment, it scans all open resources and encrypts sensitive data and files. The encryption is performed with irreversible ciphers, so businesses have no choice but to pay the ransom or restore from backups. Security researchers urge businesses not to pay the ransom, but they often have no other choice. With backups, data recovery is possible, but attackers will blackmail businesses by threatening to expose the breach publicly along with sensitive data. Even with backups, the businesses still suffer from downtime and loss of revenue from productivity halting.


How Does Security Awareness Training Help?

Without knowing what a phishing email looks like, employees are a huge risk to data protection. Security awareness training shows employees what can happen after a data breach and teaches them to recognize a phishing attack before they interact with it. An employee might open the email, but they won’t click links or download attachments with the right training.

The knowledge gained from security awareness training is invaluable for any organization. It’s a proven way to reduce risk and helps the organization avoid hefty fines from compliance violations. Training material can be in the form of documentation, instructor-led classrooms, web-based videos, and other convenient methods. It should be a part of onboarding for any new employees, and it should be offered on a regular basis to cover any changes in the cybersecurity landscape that could threaten data protection.

Security awareness training should be combined with email filters. Email filters will block malicious messages from ever reaching the intended recipient. Should an email get through to the recipient, security awareness training gives users the ability to detect phishing and report it to administrators. Email filters will quarantine an email so that administrators can review messages and identify any ongoing attacks.


SafeTitan Security Awareness Training

SafeTitan is an industry leading, behaviour-driven security awareness platform that delivers security training in real-time. With SafeTitan you can bring security awareness training to your staff to help them avoid becoming the next ransomware or phishing victim. We can help fortify any organizations cybersecurity strategy.

Ready to maximize your ability to secure you’re users and customers to cut security incidents and related costs?

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