The Importance of Security Awareness Training

We live in a digital world, where an increasing amount of our day-to-day activities have migrated online. We work, communicate, conduct commerce, and interact online, and our reliance on cyber security has increased accordingly.

Cyber-criminals can effortlessly wreak havoc on our lives and businesses. Our increased use of the internet and mobile usage gives them even more opportunities to exploit our vulnerabilities. In the commercial sector alone, a successful cyber-attack can bring a company to its knees, causing damage that, in some cases, cannot be recovered.

The cost of cyber-crime averaged $11.7 million in 2017 and $13 million in 2018, a rise of 12-percent, and an increase of 72-percent over the past five years, according to Accenture’s Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study.

Fortunately, there are processes an organization can initiate to help mitigate the effects of cyber-crime, beginning with the essential first step of raising cyber security awareness.

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What Is Cyber Security Awareness?

Human beings are still the weakest link in any organization’s digital security system. People make mistakes, forget things, or fall for fraudulent practices. That’s where cyber security awareness comes in.

This involves the process of educating employees on the different cyber security risks and threats out there, as well as potential weak spots. Employees must learn the best practices and procedures for keeping networks and data secure and the consequences of not doing so. These consequences may include losing one’s job, criminal penalties, or even irreparable harm to the company.

By making employees aware of the scope of the threats and what’s at stake if security fails, cyber security specialists can shore up this potential vulnerability.

What Are the Benefits of Cyber Security Awareness Training?

First and foremost, a staff well-trained in cyber security poses less of a risk to the overall security of an organization’s digital network.

Fewer risks mean fewer financial losses due to cyber-crime. Therefore, a company that allocates funds for cyber security awareness training for employees should experience a return on that investment.

Furthermore, if all employees get training in cyber security practices, there will be less likelihood of lapses in protection should someone leave the company. In other words, you’ll reduce the chances that a security breach occurs because a critical employee wasn’t at work that day.

Finally, a company with security-aware personnel will have a better reputation with consumers, since most are reluctant to do business with an untrustworthy organization. A business that is repeatedly subject to security breaches will lose customers as a result of negative publicity, regardless of the actual impact of any particular breach.

To create this enhanced level of security, people need to be informed of best practices. 

What Are Security Awareness Best Practices?

If you read enough business-oriented articles, you’ll eventually come across the phrase “best practices.” It’s a nice bit of jargon, but what exactly does it mean? In generic terms, “best practices” is defined as procedures shown by experience and research to produce optimal results. These procedures get accepted as a standard for widespread adoption.

Much of cyber security can be broken down into seven main topics:  

  1. Data breaches
  2. Secure passwords
  3. Malware
  4. Privacy
  5. Safe computing
  6. Mobile protection
  7. Online scams 

The most commonly referenced security awareness best practices include:

  • Getting into compliance - Different cities, states, and nations have different rules and regulations to follow. Everyone must become aware of these rules because ignorance of the law is not an adequate defense.
  • Including everyone, even managers - It’s all or nothing. Anyone not participating in the new security measures constitutes a possible weak link. If everyone isn’t fully engaged, it’s all for nothing. This particular practice also assumes that all departments (e.g., HR, Legal, Security) must buy-in and help make it a reality.
  • Establishing the basics, which include:
    • Anti-phishing tactics - Employees need to be suspicious of emails from unrecognizable sources. Phishing scams use emails to gain access to systems and wreak havoc. Employees must be educated on things like suspicious links, attachments, and untrustworthy sources.
    • Password security - There’s no excuse for having the word “password” as your password. They should be at least eight characters long, with both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a minimum of one unique character. Avoid mistakes such as writing the password on a post-it note and attaching it to your computer.
    • Physical security - This includes everything from physical access to your company’s IT department to keeping your company-issued mobile devices and laptops locked and within sight at all times.
    • Social engineering - It’s crucial to raise everyone’s awareness of hazards, such as attempts at manipulating employees into granting system access or divulging confidential company information.
  • Clearly communicating your security awareness program - This practice is especially important for middle and upper management. The higher-ups need to be kept in the loop, apprised of the current progress, and, in rare instances, report if any individual or department isn’t compliant.
  • Making the training engaging and even entertaining - Company meetings and seminars are often dull affairs that everyone does their best to avoid. Keep people engaged by showing a humorous (yet topical) video or sharing odd and quirky security-related anecdotes. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Reinforcing important messages with reviews and repetition - People often make the mistake of thinking that if they do something once, they don’t have to do it again. Cyber security is an ongoing thing and should include occasional tests and checks, scheduled at regular intervals throughout the year.
  • Creating an environment of reinforcement and motivation - Promote constant vigilance and learning by creating a security culture that runs through every organizational level, down the entire chain of command. While it’s not necessary to continually harp on the subject with employees and end-users, cyber security should be a very relevant, everyday topic.

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How Can I Get My Start in Cyber Security Awareness Training?

If you want to begin a new career in cyber security or upskill to round out your professional skill set, then Simplilearn has just what you need. Their Introduction to Cyber Security Course for Cyber Security Beginners is designed to give you a foundational look at today’s modern cyber security landscape, with an emphasis on how to evaluate and manage security protocols in information processing systems. 

You’ll also learn about information security concepts and technologies, including the principles behind security architecture, how to deal with and reduce vulnerabilities and threats to your infrastructure, and how to implement risk and incident management techniques to protect your critical systems from cyber-attack. 

After completing the four-hour, online, self-paced learning course, you will receive a completion certificate that verifies your knowledge of cyber security fundamentals. Once you pass this course, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Learn More About Cyber Security

Simplilearn’s basic course is a great start, but you may want to hone your skills further. Simplilearn’s CEH (v10) - Certified Ethical Hacking Course is just the thing for aspiring “white hat” hackers or anyone who wants to get informed about tactics to better foil malicious hackers. You can learn even more about hacking with the CHFI-Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification Course, which certifies individuals in forensic security discipline from a vendor-neutral perspective. This course will enhance your knowledge about digital forensics, teaching you how to investigate and prevent cyber-attacks efficiently.

The CISSP Certification Course trains you to become an information assurance professional, defining all significant aspects of IT security, such as architecture, design, management, and controls. CISA Certification gives you the skills to govern and control Enterprise IT, including the ability to perform security audits for any business or organization. 

Speaking of enterprise information security, CISM Certification Training enables you to create enterprise security architecture, achieve IT compliance and governance, and deliver reliable service to end-users. You will also gain an understanding of how IT security systems can help businesses achieve higher goals and objectives. You can then build on this with the COBIT 5 Certification Training Course, giving you a deep understanding of the COBIT 5 framework for managing and governing enterprise IT environments.

The CompTIA Security+ Certification SY0-501 Exam Training covers the necessary principles for network security and risk management and is essential for any aspiring IT security administrator.

Moving into the realm of Information Systems (IS), the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control - CRISC Certification Training teaches you how to create, deploy, oversee, and maintain IS controls for enterprises. The course covers topics such as risk identification and assessment, response, and control monitoring.

The cloud gets some coverage as well, thanks to the CSSP Certification Course. This course will teach you to negate security threats to cloud storage by understanding information security risks and strategies in maintaining data security.

There is also an increasing need for certified network defenders; Simplilearn’s CND-Certified Network Defender Course will provide you with the right training.

Finally, you can realize your dream about becoming an expert in the field with the Cyber Security Expert Master Program. This best-in-class program will teach you comprehensive approaches to protecting your infrastructure. You’ll learn how to secure data and information, run risk analysis and mitigation, architect cloud-based security, achieve compliance, and much more.

As the importance of cyber security awareness training in organizations continues to grow exponentially, so does the demand for more professionals to fill these vacancies. Now’s the time to make your move, and Simplilearn can help you take the necessary steps to a new, exciting, and profitable career!

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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