Security Awareness Training is an efficient, cost-effective way to uplift security within your business. This blog outlines the benefits of adopting security awareness training and how to make cybersecurity a business culture rather than a business hindrance.
Robust cyber security goes beyond technical barriers
It is common knowledge that humans are the weakest security link in the workplace. With data breaches occurring daily and ensuing financial, operational, and reputational costs escalating, it is not enough to rely on mere technological defences to protect your organisation.
Some businesses focus too heavily on protection systems and neglect to develop basic cyber-awareness and staff competency. However, cultivating an understanding of the importance of cybersecurity within your enterprise is a foundational step towards closing gaps, reducing exposure and mitigating risk.
Security Awareness Training (SAT) can be a low-cost way of turning even the least security minded individual into a confident member of the last line of security defence. Moreover, security training can diffuse the obligations of IT security risk managers across enterprise hierarchies and bolster defences.
Why is security awareness training so important?
Technological defence measures are rendered futile without the appropriate cybersecurity awareness to accompany them. With SAT you are able to develop essential cybersecurity knowledge and basic competencies that collaboratively enhance technical investments such as email gateways, firewalls and antivirus protection.
While developing cybersecurity culture across an enterprise is not an easy task, SAT assists in making cybersecurity a habit rather than a nuisance. By integrating a security mindset into employee workflow, organisations can reduce exposure to threats and response time.
Businesses don’t recognise the value in security awareness
According to the State of Email Security 2020 – Australia Findings (SOES 2020), 65% of organisations do not provide the necessary security awareness training on a regular basis.
While it is not necessary to invest in outsourcing SAT programs straight away, there are multiple avenues to take when educating employees. An in-house, ad hoc solution will work for smaller businesses who lack the bandwidth to implement SAT programs, as well as larger enterprises that simply need to review areas of human risk.
For example, carrying out an email phishing campaign and disseminating clickbait information can assist a smaller security team in finding individuals who may be more susceptible to clicking on malicious malware and are less security savvy. Continually running these phishing campaigns with added reporting on individual’s actions allows IT and risk managers to see who is regularly acting in an unsafe manner and needs more targeted training.
If you are asking yourself whether your company should adopt third party SAT programs, perhaps taking preliminary inhouse steps will help. Once these areas of vulnerability are found within your business, you are better equipped to invest in an automated security awareness program that is tailored to these issues.
Security awareness needs to flow from the top down
It is important to note that SAT is not only about training staff, but should involve executives and administrators. The C-Suite individuals are often heavily targeted victims of social engineering and phishing. Cyber criminals scour social media and other sources to garner information in hopes of impersonating executives or finance managers with the objective of breaching data and monetary transfer.
It essential that security awareness training is provided across enterprise hierarchies not only because it will ensure a fortified security approach, but because seeing business leaders adopt good practices will encourage the participation and cooperation of all levels of employees.
7 Benefits of security awareness training
1. Strengthening your weakest link enhances defence.
When staff understand the role they play in securing an organisation, they are more likely to abide by security policies and procedures, as well as make proper use of technological resources made available to them. This will provide a greater return on these investments as you will likely experience a reduction in exposure to threats and optimized use of security technology.
2. Security awareness creates a cyber security culture.
As we mentioned in a previous blog post, every business is a cybersecurity business. Therefore every business should develop security into their company culture. Every business is responsible for protecting critical assets, including staff information, client and vendor information and other crucial data. If employees are educated on good security behaviours and practices, they are more likely to uphold internal policies and hold others accountable by verifying better behaviour. The aim here is to work towards informed decisions rather than blindly following policy. Moreover, with communication pushed from the top down, executive managers may motivate staff to take on these tasks and be more enticed to learn.
3. Security awareness can help you gain a competitive edge.
Avoiding security incidents means avoiding the extensive reputational costs of potential breaches. Customers are more inclined to work with companies whose brand names are not tarnished with security incompetency and operational disruptions. Security is invaluable to maintain good clients and vendor relationships and gaining new customers.
4. Security awareness training can help you towards compliance.
When staff gauge a good understanding of enforced security policies and feel confident following best practices, your organisation is better prepared to meet compliance efforts. Making security a shared responsibility will assist your organisation in maintaining both industry and government regulation standards.
5. Business-wide security awareness eases pressure on security team by raising awareness and conditioning.
When staff know what safe and trustworthy manners of communication look like, they are less likely to overload security help desks with floods of IT related questions and infect other users. According to SOES 2020, 52% of organisations say attacks spread throughout their organisation from a single user. Ensuring that all users are embracing and replicating good conduct will shift some responsibility from the security teams and allow for more efficient operations, as well as decrease chances of such vast infection from a single source.
6. Security awareness can reduce breaches and other security incidents.
Your staff can be your best defence against social engineering attacks and data breaches. SAT can clearly outline how to integrate protection measures into workflow, rather than viewing it as a separate to normal business operations. Making security a habitual process will minimise exposure and areas of risk that may attract cyber criminals.
7. Security awareness helps reduce response time and incident impact.
SAT can teach your staff how to proactively respond to and report incidents. Time is a major factor contributing to the severity of a breach and knowing the correct protocol to follow in the aftermath of an incident can help you avoid extreme damages.