Cybersecurity training is a critical component of every company’s security posture. Enterprises face varied cyber threats, from phishing to ransomware attacks, and good training programs are just as critical as the best cybersecurity tools.
Unfortunately, employees continue to fall victim to social engineering attacks, causing data breaches, system failures, and reputation damage. These incidents clearly point to flaws in the companies’ security training methods.
Given this state of affairs, here are a few ways companies can boost their security training initiatives and potentially reduce the impact of cyber threats.
Phishing might be one of the oldest ways of compromising a company’s security, but it continues to occupy the top spot in the list of modern cyber threats. On the surface, this seems implausible, since today’s workforce has grown up with technology, so logic dictates that they should be accustomed to spotting malware in their emails.
However, phishing attempts have become more sophisticated. While employees might be able to spot age-old “Nigerian prince” scams on their own, modern malicious emails that impersonate a trusted business contact or coworker are tougher to detect. Good phishing awareness training is critical to helping employees spot discrepancies between fakes and the real thing.
Training methods must also account for modern security compromises such as multi-factor authentication fatigue. For instance, an employee might receive a barrage of emails with a one-time password initiated by a malicious actor. The attacker can pose as a trusted employee and extract the password, presenting the victim with no other way to stop the constant notifications.
Phishing is thus used in conjunction with other attack vectors, making it tough for a company’s security team to isolate threats. Good training, preferably personalized to suit an employee’s technical skills, will go a long way toward helping them flag suspicious situations.
New employees are often extra vulnerable and are therefore targeted by malicious actors. At most companies, new employees dive right into their department’s work, leaving basic policies and procedures for later. In such circumstances, a phishing email or malicious link might be difficult for them to spot, leading to a potential compromise.
Integrating security training with employee onboarding is a great way to reinforce basic security skills. New employees will immediately understand that security is a part of the company’s culture and not an afterthought. They’ll also have a chance to familiarize themselves with the company’s tools and security processes while learning about potential weaknesses.
Companies should not underestimate the importance of installing security as a cultural pillar. Most companies have their executives talk about security but fail to walk the talk. Employees are usually left with a set of quotes about security but little practical advice.
Integrating security training (at least basic tasks) with onboarding will go a long way toward getting employees engaged with security and their role in the organization’s overall posture.
Most security training is composed of security team members delivering presentations or forcing employees, both on-premise and remote, to participate in collaborative exercises. They’re filled with incomprehensible jargon and end up being viewed as a hurdle, rather than an asset.
Gamification goes a long way toward circumventing the downsides of this approach and keeping employees engaged. For starters, a gamified platform helps employees retain information better, since they learn by actively flagging simulated malicious activity and executing tasks. A gamified environment incentivizes employees to learn new skills through rewards and competition.
From the security team’s standpoint, gamification offers them a wealth of data. They can analyze an employee’s technical ability and design learning paths customized to suit them. For instance, a new hire in the marketing department and a veteran finance executive might benefit from accessing different learning paths that focus on developing different security skills.
Analytics of this sort will lead to more tailored learning, which ultimately boosts awareness and skill retention. In such circumstances, companies can reasonably assume that behavioral change will follow.
How often do companies include security training goals within team-building exercises? Not very often. While daily job skills take priority, security must be present in these programs. An individual working on their security skills will be far more engaged in a team environment where they need to collaborate to solve a problem.
These exercises also reinforce the second-order effects bad actions have on the company’s processes. For instance, clicking a phishing link might compromise the user’s computer. It will also have chain effects on another team member’s ability to work properly or another department’s daily processes.
Educating employees through team-building events is a great way to reinforce that security is a part of the organization’s culture. It’ll also drive greater training engagement due to the competitive juices flowing.