How important is end user cybersecurity awareness training to your organization’s security posture?

It may seem like a nuisance to find the right training program, financially invest in training, and then ensure someone is responsible for documenting the completion of training. But when you consider that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error, it makes formal, scheduled training a valuable component to your security programs.

This type of education brings awareness to all employees and empowers them to identify and report suspicious activity. This builds a defense that could be the difference between a potential security incident and a full-blown, costly data breach. In fact, the cost of a data breach had risen 12% in 2019, costing an average of $3.92 million.

By investing in and implementing cybersecurity awareness training, you make a powerful decision for your team and will reap many benefits, including:

  1. Reducing and preventing common cybersecurity risks for small businesses
  2. Protecting data in all digital and physical environments
    Holding C-suite employees accountable
  3. Educating all employees, including non-technical employees
    Developing a security-focused culture
  4. Meeting numerous compliance standards

Let’s review these six ways that end user cybersecurity awareness training adds value to your security programs, starting with preventing risks.

#1. Reduce Cybersecurity Risks and Prevent Incidents

The most obvious reason to implement cybersecurity awareness training is because it’s your best, most efficient way to build an internal defense against cyber threats and malicious attackers.

Let’s face it: your employees are the weakest link in your security posture. By equipping them with a basic knowledge of email phishing, social engineering, ransomware, and malware practices, you are pro-actively reducing cybersecurity threats in addition to preventing security incidents.

#2. Protect Data in All Environments

When your organization is responsible for any type of sensitive data, data protection becomes another critical component of your security posture. The location of your employees and their devices is extremely relevant in data protection efforts.

You may have employees that work entirely remote, work full-time in an office, frequently travel, or utilize a hybrid model. While an office may have more safeguards in place than an at-home or hotel Wi-Fi network, your employees must be equipped to protect their devices and your systems when not in the building. Keep these questions in mind as you think about your IT security risk management:

  • Do your employees know when and how to use required VPNs?
  • Do they know when to utilize a hotspot as opposed to a public Wi-Fi network?
  • Are there documented procedures surrounding approved company devices?

Electing the right cybersecurity awareness training will help employees and C-suite executives stay alert, no matter their working environment.

#3. Hold the C-Suite Accountable

C-suite employees are one of the biggest targets for phishing attempts because of their access to corporate and financial information, making cybersecurity awareness training especially critical for employees at that level.

“Identify theft is a huge risk at any company. The C-Suite executives, or even primary shareholders, are highly susceptible to having their identity stolen and used in social engineering tactics.”

- Joe Rudolph, Privacy and Security Officer at Ceeva

 

Your employees may think they can spot the signs of phishing or smishing, but testing their knowledge will ensure they’re up to the challenge. The completion of training will keep them up-to-date on the latest threats and hold them accountable to following security best practices. You can even find cybersecurity IT firms that offer training specific to C-level roles.

Requiring that all employees, including executives, complete end user cybersecurity awareness training also sets a good example from the top down, and further cultivates a security-focused culture.

#4. Educate Non-Technical Employees

Employees are always the weakest security link at an organization — especially those that have non-technical responsibilities. In many cases, it is unintentional, but their lack of cognizance surrounding cyber threats can lead to serious consequences that damage the integrity of your security. Plus, it might be the exact opening a malicious attacker is hoping to find.

These days, threats like phishing emails are extremely convincing, which is why non-technical employees must complete end user cybersecurity awareness training. When all employees are trained on how to identify and report suspicious activity, your organization will have made great strides in strengthening its security structure.

#5. Develop a Security-Focused Culture

How do organizations put security at the center of their culture? By investing in things that will increase the adoption of security best practices — like end user cybersecurity awareness training.

By requiring recurring training, it puts a focus on security that holds everyone accountable. Your organization might even run email phishing or social engineering simulations to put unknowing employees to the test.

In many ways, requiring thorough cybersecurity awareness training can make a positive impact on your employees because you’re equipping them with what they need to protect data while performing their job duties. You have their best interest in mind!

#6. Meet Compliance Standards

Your organization may be required by law or industry regulation to provide formal, documented end user cybersecurity awareness training. Security training of some form is a foundational element to many compliance frameworks.

NIST 800-53 sets the standard by requiring that organizations provide, at a minimum, basic cybersecurity awareness training to information system users. Other industry standards follow NIST’s suit and require that end users complete annual cybersecurity awareness training:

  • SOC 2
  • The PCI DSS
  • The HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules
  • ISO 27001
  • FISMA
  • GDPR

Have you checked if your cybersecurity awareness training meets the compliance standards that your organization requires?

With the tools readily available to you, end user cybersecurity awareness training can easily become a part of your security strategy. Nowadays, there’s no need for a company-wide meeting or even in-person training. With many online options to choose from, you can select what type of training you require of each type of employee, because what’s required of HR team members will very likely be different than what’s required of IT team members.

The first step is establishing a baseline curriculum that will educate all employees on phishing, social engineering, ransomware, and malware practices. Your managed IT security provider can advise on foundational lessons that will likely meet compliance requirements.

Then, you can set a cadence at which employees are required to complete training. A good program will even prompt training when the time comes and document completion.

At Ceeva, we believe that one of the biggest threats to an organization’s data security is an uninformed workforce. As part of our security solutions, we are ready to help you educate your workforce on how to adjust their habits to keep your company and other private data safe.

Unsure where to start with end user cybersecurity awareness training? Discuss your security risks, training options, and IT solutions with a Cybersecurity Expert at Ceeva today!

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