Cybersecurity Training: Always Evolving, Always Relevant

Improving your company’s defenses against cyber attacks takes more than IT purchases; you should invest in training.

A red section of computer code.

Today’s cyber criminals know employee error is a huge security weakness.

When thinking of cybersecurity for your company, it’s normal to consider the problem in terms of technology. Hackers and malicious groups are pitting their IT resources against yours, and failure to keep up with this digital arms race may result in the loss of valuable data.

This technical approach to today’s cybersecurity challenges ignores one critical fact, however: Some of the greatest threats to your company are not predicated on advanced tech or rapid threat development. The potential for human error can be a glaring weak spot in any organization’s defenses.

If your employees aren’t aware of the risks cyber attacks pose, even the most advanced IT systems may fail to keep hackers out of your company’s data. The rise of psychological tactics in data theft, with spear phishing serving as the most prominent example, is ongoing. Training is one of the most impactful security investments you can make.

Understanding the Risk of Human Error

As Security Magazine explained, hackers have made a practice of breaking into systems by targeting employees rather than using brute-force tactics. The magazine repeated a famous quote by cryptographer Bruce Scheiner to explain why cyber crime has taken this turn: “Only amateurs attack machines; professionals target people.”

When a criminal launches an attack via an email engineered to look legitimate, a compromised document file or method that preys on inattentive employees, that individual saves time and effort that would be spent on breaking through firewalls and other defensive systems. The hackers essentially ask the workers to open the door. Lacking professional education, those employees let the hackers in.

Willis Towers Watson’s recent survey which found 90% of corporate cyber attacks that yielded results in rely on human error. It’s possible for workers lacking appropriate training to cause data loss largely unaided by outside attackers, with the data revealing 66% of breaches come from negligence or malice by employees, while only 18% come directly from an external attack and a mere 2% are part of digital extortion schemes.

A Making employees aware of cyber risk is a great first step to protecting your company.

Committing to Training for Your Team

National Cybersecurity Center Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Steenland told ZDNet companies need to step up their preparedness across the board, training employees on security. Workers don’t want to put their companies at risk. When your team members have comprehensive education on the best practices of security, they’ll be less likely to make a serious error and put the organization at risk. New employees should receive training early in their tenure to ensure they maintain good habits throughout their time with your company.

As Steenland explained, the most common forms of IT security training are not suited to solving the underlying problems presented by today’s cyber threats. When the IT department is placed in charge of the training curriculum, the information imparted may be too technical to have a comprehensive impact on employee behavior. Workers should be ready to deal with the behavioral and psychological tactics used by hackers to fool victims into clicking on harmful materials and putting their companies at risk.

Relevance is one of the key elements of useful training content, and many programs may lack this trait. Steenland noted that average corporate employees may find the idea of a multimillion-dollar hack too abstract to prioritize. Content should put data loss in terms that make sense on an individual level, explaining the consequences of losing control of personal accounts and offering a reminder that the same thing can happen at a corporate level.

Finding Relevant Security Training Courses

If your organization’s cybersecurity employee education is outdated – or if you don’t prioritize this skill set – it’s time to find new materials for your team. Ideal cyber security training courses will focus on actionable and practical information, delivering lessons employees will immediately be able to use in their day-to-day duties. For instance, a multi-stage course that focuses individual modules on relevant topics such as managing passwords, avoiding social engineering attacks and comprehending the risks of modern cyber crime can give workers a solid level of preparedness.

If your organization operates in a heavily regulated field such as health care, you have to meet specific cybersecurity requirements. Fortunately, there are specialized courses dealing with the device security elements of the Health Information Portability and Accessibility Act. Companies across industries have to meet other regulatory needs, especially since the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation targeting all companies that deal with European Union customers or clients. You’ll need up-to-date training modules to help your team stay compliant with the new law.

Assuming that cybersecurity is a dry technical matter for IT to handle on its own is a mistake that could have costly consequences for your business. Today’s cyber attacks can’t be prevented by simply improving defensive technology or keeping software up to date. With hackers exploiting gaps in employee knowledge to gain access to companies’ data, you have to stay one step ahead through targeted training.

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