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Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees

Lukas Grigas
Cybersecurity Content Writer

As cyberattacks continue to increase in frequency and sophistication, businesses are constantly looking for ways to enhance security across the board. Apps, firewalls, and various security protocols combine an organization’s security ecosystem. Sure, all of those technologies provide serious protection from a variety of cyber threats. However, one component in the strategy that too often gets overlooked is the team.

Human error accounts for almost 82% of all data breaches. Cybersecurity awareness training can change that within any organization. Today, we’re looking at what it is, why it’s essential, and how it can help your organization.

What is cybersecurity awareness training

Cybersecurity awareness training is the approach organizations use to help the staff develop awareness and understanding of best practices to ensure a secure perimeter within the organization at all times. Cybersecurity awareness training usually includes formally educating the team on various cyber threats, the ways to recognize them, and the steps to take to mitigate those threats. Typically, cybersecurity awareness training is a long-term strategy and part of a more extensive security program.

While cybersecurity awareness training obviously starts in the IT department, it is important to realize that every member of the organization should take part in training to ensure that the whole company is on the same page.

Importance of cybersecurity awareness training

Did you know that up to 82% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error and that on average the costs of a data breach stands at $4.35M globally? You can use the most sophisticated and up-to-date tech to mitigate cyber threats, but if your staff does not possess the savvy and awareness to identify and counter a potential threat, the tech won’t help. After all, numbers don’t lie.

Cybersecurity awareness training brings numerous far-reaching benefits to any organization willing to carry it out. The benefits include introducing essential cybersecurity knowledge for the whole staff, improved overall awareness, threat reduction, prevention of possible downtime, savings on hefty regulatory fines in cases of cyber incidents, greater customer confidence, and in some instances, even greater revenue.

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How often should cybersecurity awareness training take place?

The short answer to the question of how often should cybersecurity awareness training take place is as frequently as possible. Carrying a training session every day would be great, but in reality, not feasible: after all, you have a business to run.

Ideally, cybersecurity awareness training should be a part of any new employee’s onboarding process. Security professionals recommend running security awareness training sessions on at least an annual basis or, if possible, more frequently.

What you should absolutely not do is run a single cybersecurity awareness training session and stop there. Think of it this way: You can arrange a drum training session for your entire organization, but after a single session, your team most likely won’t come out playing like world-class drummers. Why? Well, those drummers have put thousands of hours into polishing their craft. The same logic applies to cybersecurity awareness training — don’t be surprised that you’ve got no Brian Krebs’ in your team after just one session.

The key is repetition. Make sessions frequent, but be sure to spread them out. Cognitive overload is real and can take a toll on those learning. Include humor in sessions and provide positive reinforcement. Play with the schedule for the best results. Explore how your team responds to those sessions, gather feedback, and make adjustments. Each organization should follow its needs and resources to make the most of cybersecurity awareness training. Just don’t make it a one-time thing.

What topics cybersecurity awareness training should include

A well-rounded cybersecurity awareness training program should include a variety of topics and practices for the program to be effective. Any cybersecurity awareness training program should include educational content, attack simulations, and penetration tests. Additionally, the program should provide role-based training depending on the employee's position within the organization as well as follow-up sessions. At the end of the day, cybersecurity awareness training should be tailored to your organization and its specific needs. However, here are some other significant topics and practices you should consider in your cybersecurity awareness training.

Social engineering and phishing awareness

Social engineering and phishing attacks are among the most common and popular types of cyberattacks. Including social engineering and phishing awareness in your cybersecurity awareness training should be a no-brainer. Everyone on your team must have a good understanding of what a phishing email looks like and what constitutes social engineering.

Password security

The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed over 80% of data breaches are related to weak or stolen passwords. To no surprise, any cybersecurity awareness training program that wants to be effective must include password security training. The password security part of training should focus on the importance of password complexity, best password management practices, and other password-related topics that might be specific to your organization.

Insider threats

The Verizon report also found that insider threats account for 20% of all breaches. Insider threats are defined as threats that come from a user inside the organization who leverages their authorized access to compromise the organization's network. In your cybersecurity awareness training program, you should dedicate time to understanding insider threats and exploring possible solutions and mitigation strategies.

CEO fraud

CEO fraud is a type of spear-phishing. During a CEO fraud, bad actors tend to impersonate the CEO to trick unsuspecting users into providing sensitive information to the “CEO” without realizing that bad actors are behind it all. You should extensively cover such attacks and ways to counter them in your cybersecurity awareness program because every employee within the organization could be affected by such an attack.

Internet use

Consider including secure internet use practices in your organization's cybersecurity awareness training program. Doing so will ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page regarding internet use: What your organization deems safe and what it sees as off-limits and too risky. Doing so will significantly shrink the possible attack vector in your business.

Mobile devices use

Mobile devices are an inseparable part of our life. Unfortunately, people still tend to overlook mobile device security. Any organization that takes security seriously should dive deep into mobile security during the cybersecurity awareness training because threats and attack types of mobile devices continue to evolve daily. Remember, these days, mobile devices serve as authentication devices, which means that even a single compromised device could provide bad actors with access to your organization's network.

Social media policy

Social media is a fact of life. And while it provides an awesome way to stay connected with friends and family, it also provides the perfect playing ground for bad actors. We've all heard of Cambridge Analytica's story and countless similar ones. During a cybersecurity awareness session, educate your team about the threats that lurk within social media platforms and communicate the organization's policy and guidance on general social media use.

Cybersecurity threat reaction

Ensuring that your team knows what should be done and in what order in case of a cyberattack is an essential aspect of cybersecurity awareness training. Be sure to dedicate as much time to threat reaction as possible. It might make the difference between a controlled attack and a full-on data breach. Establish patterns of action and familiarize your team with them.

In-depth cybersecurity training for specific roles

While cybersecurity awareness training should include the entire organization, it is critical to understand that the training should be tailored to different teams and individuals to get the most out of the program. Some teams might require an in-depth approach (think IT, compliance, and risk assessment teams). In contrast, others might not need much in-depth information but would be better served with more practical training, such as how to respond to a phishing attempt and to whom to report the attempted attack.

Providing specific training for specific individuals and groups should improve the entire organization's security posture significantly because such training would cover all the bases.

Improve your employees' password habits with NordPass

These days, password security and management are hot topics, and rightly so. After all, passwords are your first line of defense against unauthorized access. The stats show that even though most people are aware of how important passwords are, they still struggle with password security, sometimes even at an elementary level. Password fatigue is real and largely drives people to adopt dubious habits when it comes to passwords, which in turn can have devastating consequences, especially in a business environment.

NordPass Business is a password manager designed to counter all of the above issues. A business password manager such as NordPass takes the password load off your team members and allows them to remain focused on what matters. How?

NordPass provides a single secure place to store and access passwords on any device, even when the user is offline. Furthermore, with NordPass, your team no longer needs to try and create passwords that adhere to all the complex rules on their own. All they have to do instead is use the built-in Password Generator. The autofill feature eliminates the need for manual password typing and automatically fills in passwords, credit card details, and personal information forms.

By taking the password load off your team's shoulders with a business password manager such as NordPass, you will provide your team with more time and energy to foster the best password habits.

Please schedule a demo with our representative if you are interested in what NordPass Business can do for your organization.

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