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Why Cybersecurity Training for Employees is the Key to Keeping Company Data Safe

Posted by Trevagh Stankard on Tue, May 31st, 2022

How do you know if you’ve covered all your bases when it comes to cybersecurity? Many enterprises opt for sophisticated technological infrastructure for their cybersecurity needs, but the truth is that while infrastructure solutions are very good at preventing certain types of security breaches, even the most sophisticated software on the market can be bypassed by simple human error!

Social engineering is responsible for a large percentage of data breaches worldwide— most estimates put the number at over 90%. With that kind of risk, companies can’t afford to wait until they’ve been compromised to address the threat. Quite literally can’t afford it, as companies are losing millions of dollars annually through cybercrime. That’s why combining security infrastructure with cybersecurity training for employees is a critical component of preventing digital threats within a company.

How Data Breaches Happen

The hacker movies of the 90s and 00s have a lot to answer for. For many people, their first and last idea of “hacking” is limited to fast-flying lines of code, an image that handily obscures the fact that so many data breaches begin with something as simple as an email. With digital security tools becoming harder to bypass all the time, the easiest way for a hacker to gain access to your data is to hack you—after all, why spend time picking a lock on a front door if you can talk to a homeowner into just handing you their keys?

Social Engineering and Phishing

Social engineering attacks use an understanding of human behavior to manipulate people into disclosing confidential information or performing actions against their best interest. They take many forms, but often work by creating a false sense of urgency—a person is more likely to overlook small details that are off when they’re stressed and flustered.

Phishing emails are a subset of social engineering, with an email pretending to be from a reputable source and prompting the user to click a link, respond with information, or sometimes even directly asking for funds. Common social engineering & phishing tactics that your employees must watch out for include:

  • CEO emails: Emails pretending to be from company leadership with urgent requests for the employee. The increased pressure makes employees less likely to question the request.
  • Email Spoofing: Using look-alike letter combinations such as ‘rn’ instead of ‘m’ to create a look-alike email to one the employee trusts, often paired with messaging that requires urgent action.
  • Website Spoofing: Directing a target to a look-alike website that emulates a service they trust—prompting them to sign in and collecting their user credentials.
  • Vishing and Smishing: Phishing is used specifically to refer to fraudulent emails. Vishing, or voice phishing, is a type of fraud that occurs over the phone, with a malicious actor pretending to be someone else to manipulate someone into disclosing sensitive information on a call, while smishing, or SMS phishing, is similar to phishing but through text messages.
  • Baiting: Scammers will draw targets in with a promised reward in order to obtain access to their data. For example, handing out free USB drives as conference swag, but loading the drives with malicious software.
  • Ransomware: Tricking an employee into clicking a link that contains an executable command, installing software that allows malicious parties to remotely take control of servers, literally holding personal or company data for ransom.

This is only a fraction of the potential exploits employees will navigate, and new variations are cropping up all the time. With remote work becoming more common, many companies are seeing an uptick in cyber attacks. Employees working outside of the office do not have access to in-office security infrastructure or hardware. They may be working with an outdated or poorly secured connection, and may even be working on their own personal devices. These logistical challenges mean remote employees are generally much more vulnerable to attack!

To keep enterprise data safe, cybersecurity awareness training for employees has to be an ongoing practice that not only teaches employees to recognize security threats but also corrects risky behavior and reinforces safer employee behavior and best practices over time.

What Does Effective CyberSecurity Training Look Like?

While there are many forms of cybersecurity training available, not every training tactic is effective. So what does a good cybersecurity training module contain?

Cybersecurity Awareness

The first step towards a more secure business is always cybersecurity awareness. It’s pretty self-explanatory—employees can’t avoid a phishing attempt if they don’t know what one looks like. Effective cybersecurity awareness training should keep all employees up-to-date on what cyber threats look like and how to handle them.

Not only that, but to be truly effective, cybersecurity training should be proactive, teaching employees best practices to adopt across platforms. These may include:

  • How to select and store passwords securely
  • Not repeating passwords across accounts
  • Making use of 2-factor authentication
  • Inspecting suspicious links and attachments
  • Keeping hardware and software up-to-date
  • Safe internet use, social media use, mobile device policies
  • Safe public Wi-Fi usage
  • Recognizing and reporting potential data breaches

Focusing on best practices helps employees recognize potential gaps in their security and gives them actionable steps for improvement.

Protect your business from phishing attacks with SafeTitan Security Awareness Training. Discover how it works to train employees in a FREE demo.

Book Free Demo

Phishing Simulations

While teaching your employees what phishing looks like is a good first step, awareness alone isn’t enough to ensure consistent vigilance. To translate knowledge into real behavioral changes, an additional layer of real-time training is needed.

Phishing drills work by simulating cyber attacks. Employees receive emails that employ common phishing techniques, testing employee cybersecurity awareness. If an employee clicks a link in a simulated phishing email, the data is recorded and the employee is immediately informed they’ve clicked on a phishing link, helping them recognize errors in real-time. Through real-time feedback, employees internalize and reinforce their cybersecurity awareness training and begin to modify their behavior over time.

Phishing simulations can also be tailored to individual employees. If specific employees are deemed to be higher risk, they can be targeted for further simulations (or more direct interventions) as needed. As employees become savvier at spotting potential threats, email content can also increase in difficulty to push their progression further.

Ongoing Monitoring, Assessments, and Reporting

One-size-fits all cybersecurity training does not work, which is why data is crucial to your cybersecurity efforts. Data collected from initial employee testing and phishing simulations provides a baseline for individual employees as well as across your entire organization. With baseline data and ongoing assessments throughout the process of cybersecurity training, you can:

  • Identify potential weaknesses within your cybersecurity protocols
  • Identify high-risk employees within your organization and intervene when necessary
  • Tailor cybersecurity training to address individual and organizational weaknesses & fill knowledge gaps
  • Monitor individual & organizational progress and adjust training accordingly
  • Test training strategies to find the most effective and efficient ways to encourage employee learning
  • Keep those at the top aware of individual threats as well as the overall state of security within the company

Data helps shape and direct the learning process while acting as a proof of concept for the security training model. Management can be easily apprised of progress through reporting and monitor as employees become more cybersecurity-aware, acting as the first line of defense for company data. 

Gamified Learning

Boring learning is ineffective learning. While some learners may find a traditional classroom or lecture style learning environment tolerable, studies show that more interactive training and breaking material up into shorter cycles is a much more successful training strategy! Fun and interactive materials help employees stay engaged over the course of training. Gamified learning is not only more entertaining, it’s actually better at helping employees remember lessons and change their behavior in a lasting way!

Like with phishing simulations, quizzing employees on their knowledge in short bursts provides them with real-time feedback, letting them know what their strengths and weaknesses are and what aspects of the training they may need to revisit without overwhelming them.

And, as mentioned above, testing also provides data for MSP providers, IT managers, and leadership on an ongoing basis.

Based on Up-To-Date Expertise

As organizations work to close the cybersecurity knowledge gap for their employees, cyberattacks also shift and change, with attackers trying more sophisticated phishing schemes in response to a growing awareness of cybersecurity best practices. It is for this reason that cybersecurity training needs to be thought of as an ongoing project at all levels of an organization, with training adjustments over time as cybercrime tactics change and evolve.

Of course, this kind of shifting knowledge base requires a lot of dedicated attention to maintain. For those managing a team, the problem becomes—how do you stay up-to-date and keep your team up-to-date on new cybersecurity threats while balancing, well, everything else?

For many enterprises and MSPs, the solution is turning to trusted third-party security awareness training products and services for their employees. With a laser-focus on current cybersecurity threats and dedicated teams of experts, using an external cybersecurity training solution is an ideal way to make sure that the information employees receive is current and up-to-date.

Getting Started with Cybersecurity Training

Looking to get cybersecurity training for your team or for your clients? SafeTitan from TitanHQ is a Software-as-a-Service cybersecurity training platform that delivers behavior-driven security awareness training in real-time.

SafeTitan provides tailored training based on employee behavior. With an extensive library of training courses, videos & quizzes, training materials are served up according to individual employee needs. Testing helps develop an employee profile with information around employee knowledge level and learning requirements. The metrics from the tests are then used to further modify the training program to optimize learning. For an additional layer of real-time intervention training, the platform also carries out fully automated simulated phishing attacks, with content pulled from the regularly-updated phishing template library.

Setup, integrations, and migrations are all super simple, letting you hit the ground running with your employee security training. Plus, the platform can generate reports on security awareness training and phishing simulation results for management, so you can actually track its effectiveness over time!

Want to know more? You can sign up for a SafeTitan demo to see the platform in action and chat with a TitanHQ cybersecurity awareness training expert who will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

Protect your business from phishing attacks with SafeTitan Security Awareness Training. Discover how it works to train employees in a FREE demo.

Book Free Demo

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