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Tips on how to train employees for cyber security

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Importance of Cyber Security Training for Employees

When security breaches and hacks are constantly becoming the news, it is important that you look into your organization for any vulnerability. It is possible to setup any kinds of systems to secure your firm, but the truth is that most of the attacks occur where you are most vulnerable which is your employees. It is essential to understand how to train your employees for cybersecurity.

 The organizations make use of several digital resources like managed IT services which provides first class security on a low budget, so the hackers have started depending on other hacking strategies like spear-phishing and social engineering. Here are some of the best steps that can be taken to train your employees for cybersecurity.

1. Do not Blame Your Employees

When a data breach occurs, many people conclude that it is the fault of some employee, even though it is true that the employee must have fallen for some trap. But it is not right to blame an employee for not having the knowledge as it is the responsibility of the organization to make sure that its employees keep its network and data secure.

It is the duty of the organization to organize a plan to make sure that all the staff has the right knowledge necessary to make the correct decision. The employee has to be clear about his actions when anybody questions him. The company must ensure to set up an infrastructure to face any emerging threats and get everyone invested in organizational security.

2. Invest in Employee Training

A significant aspect in cybersecurity is maintenance and it is a constant job. New attacks emerge on a daily basis and the company’s perspective to protect against them must not be restricted to annual training. When your network devices are updated once a year, the security will be at agony, so is the case with the employees also.

The employees in an organization are an asset and it is important to invest in them on a regular basis. It must be considered as people patching and if they are not patched constantly, they become vulnerable.

It is important to perform a wide variety of approaches to make your people aware of what is out there and how to deal with it. The main thing required for this is a change in the mindset of the organizations. Instead of considering the individual who opened the attachment as the point of failure, it is time to think that it is the security and training structure around that individual that has failed.

3. Make Cybersecurity Awareness a Priority

Data breaches occur on a regular basis and many top companies get affected by them. It is horrifying to note that most of these attacks have got very less media coverage. Do not think that small businesses can escape from such security breaches. Around two-thirds of small and medium sized businesses have suffered a cyberattack in the past twelve months.

To make your employees aware of cybersecurity, it is best to share cybersecurity news regularly. The extent of these attacks will make everyone think about security in their day-to-day.

Also make sure not to pile up the mailbox that leads them to the archives. Make it a practice to affix a “cybersecurity in the news” section to emails or reports that you already make or insert a few links in your signature that you can update regularly.

4. Get Buy-In From the C-Suite

It is always necessary that the changes must happen from the top level in any organization. When you plan to invest in regular training for your employees, first you must speak to executives in terms they can understand.

If you are looking for executive buy-in, it helps to be clear about how data breaches and other cyberattacks can affect the bottom line. The costs are more wide-ranging and it is helpful to use some numbers to make things more tangible.

The average cost of a data breach in 2018 was $3.86 million, which rises again. Put a price on everything, from the organizational cost of losing access to mission-critical data to the potential liability of being at fault for leaking customer information. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to get the support you need.

5. Password Security Training and Best Practices

The fundamental building block of a solid organizational security plan is to have a best password practices. Make your employees also practice the same. Some of the characteristics of a strong password are

  • It’s long enough: Longer passwords are exponentially harder to brute-force. At least eight characters are required for the password.
  • It uses multiple character sets: Each character set you use (uppercase, lowercase, numerals, symbols) adds another layer of complexity that makes it harder to guess.
  • It doesn’t use complete words: It might be easy for you to remember a common word, but it is also easy for an attacker to perform a “dictionary attack” to their password cracker script.
  • It’s changed regularly: It is easy for a password to be compromised when it is used again and again. Make it a practice to regularly change the passwords as it gives less chance to get compromised.
  • It’s not shared across accounts: When your password gets leaked, the hacker can use it and try on other websites as well, if you use the same passwords across different sites.

One of the best methods is to use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. These tools will generate and remember strong passwords for every account used by the employees. It also makes it easier to share passwords across your team, letting you to collaborate remotely while following best practices.

6. Educate Employees to identify Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks

Most of the cyberattacks today depend on human error. The attackers can spoof email addresses, domains, etc. to create a targeted man-in-the-middle attack to compromise even the most protected accounts. A sophisticated attacker with the correct information can create a highly-targeted scheme to get easily into your network. So, it is important to teach your employees how to identify a “phishy” looking email and where to go if they have questions.

The following practices are recommended as part of training

  • Check the email address of the sender and name for spoofing, especially when the sender is making an unusual or unexpected request.
  • Check the email format and ask yourself if there is anything off about it.
  • Make a phone call if you are suddenly asked for sensitive information like login credentials.
  • Hover over links to make sure they go where are actually meant to.
  • Open any attachments only after scanning and check the file extension for anything unusual, like multiple file types.

Social engineering attacks are even more wicked because they aim at the employee’s need to help people. An attacker will call or email your organization, acting as a vendor and asking for help.

If you receive mail like this, teach the employees to think about questions like why is the sender requesting this information or is he originally the one who claims to be and so on.  These will help the organization to avoid falling victim to this kind of attack.

7. Cyber Security as part of Onboarding

It is necessary to make organizational security a part of your onboarding by incorporating it into your training process from the beginning.

Areas like password security, phishing, and social engineering attacks must be covered from day one. It is important to ensure that you are not just going over the rules but also explaining why these best practices are so important.

You should be clear about how much of a threat data breaches are and why it is their problem, too. Creating clear employee cybersecurity guidelines is an important asset, as it gives them a resource to turn to if they need help. It is always better to know about a potential breach as soon as it occurs, so ensure that you are creating an environment where sharing is encouraged and avoiding a situation where someone tries to cover up their mistakes and makes a risky situation even worse.

8. Conduct “Live Fire” Practice Attacks

It is not possible for your employees to build the correct cybersecurity habits without finding a way for them to put these concepts into action and even learn from their mistakes. It is worth to make some investment for testing your organization with a live fire simulation, either by using an outside vendor or by running through your own security department.

This makes it easy for the team to understand the principles of identifying a phishing or social engineering attack. But the main aim is to run those mental checks in the course of a busy workday where you have several other concerns.

Similar to a fire drill, having a regular (practice) attacks will help your employees learn from their mistakes. You will also get to know where in your organization needs the most improvement, thereby helping you to plan future training sessions accordingly. A successful practice attack can make for a real bright moment about why security is so important.

As the number of data breaches and hacks continue to rise, it is important for your business to take necessary measures to ensure you don’t get into the headlines. The key aspect here is training and also send constant reminders about threats and maybe also a “live fire” exercise to show how easily you can become a victim to an attack. Keep in mind that cybersecurity is a team effort, and you need to put your employees in a position to succeed.

Priyanka R
Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Author at Cyber Safe News

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