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Leveraging Cybersecurity Awareness and Training to Empower Employees

Cybersecurity isn’t a new concept; in fact, in 2004, the Department of Homeland Security introduced awareness to cybersecurity and data privacy. A lot has changed since then, and cybersecurity is more critical today than ever before. The concept has grown into what is now known as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which occurs every October. This year’s theme was “Do your Part. Be CyberSmart!”

Cybersecurity Awareness for an Organization 

Organizational cybersecurity awareness training is a form of education that equips employees with the information they need to protect themselves and their organization’s assets from loss or harm. Most of today’s threats require humans to activate them. For instance, in a social engineering attack, a cybercriminal may try to trick someone into divulging information such as their bank information or Social Security number. They may even try to get you to click on a link from what appears to be a reputable site but is in fact malicious.

Reduce Risk by Investing in Cybersecurity Awareness Training

A joint study from Stanford University Professor Jeff Hancock and security firm Tessian revealed that 88% of data breach incidents are caused by employee errors. Most of these are not purposeful, but rather are mistakes made unknowingly due to the cunning nature of cybercriminals. Data breaches cost organizations an average of $4 million a year and can have far-reaching consequences, including loss of current or future customers and damaged brand reputation.

Employees are a huge part of an organization’s security culture, so invest in them by providing the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves not only at work, but in their home lives as well. Educated employees can become human firewalls to complement technical security controls.

Leadership Support Impacts Security Culture

Built on trust, Faith Technologies Incorporated (FTI) is focused on protecting our customers and their data. Our leadership has made cybersecurity — including awareness training — a top priority. When cybersecurity behaviors, attitudes and values are visible at the leadership level, it creates a culture change that can influence an entire organization.

What Type of Cybersecurity Awareness Program is Right for You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a cybersecurity awareness program, including executive support, content and metrics. Leadership support of the enterprise initiative is crucial for funding and supporting the corporate culture. Content is another key factor, because having the right format for materials – whether it’s videos, gamification, posters or artwork – and topics ranging from cybersecurity attack vectors to regulations or compliance is critical. Programs should incorporate metrics to underscore how investing in an awareness program closes security gaps and lowers your organization’s risk.

Additional areas to consider are what type of training should be delivered to different audiences. For instance, at FTI, master technicians can learn more about how cybersecurity impacts industrial control systems. Human resource teams that typically handle personally identifiable information such as salary, wages, Social Security numbers, background check information and more require different awareness training. Accounting and finance departments deal with sensitive transactions which can often be large disbursements of cash. These teams are high-value targets for cybercriminals, so ensuring they understand potential risks and how to spot them, and know how to alert others to potential threats, is crucial.

Consider offering ongoing training and building it into the onboarding or new hire process. A culture of enablement, trust and engagement will significantly improve your organization’s cybersecurity culture. Start by talking with your employees before you begin a cybersecurity awareness campaign and get their feedback on what they need. After all, you are in this together!

Learn More

There are many companies that provide cybersecurity awareness materials along with services such as simulated phishing campaigns, which can help users increase their alertness to risk. Research the industry and determine if partnering with a cybersecurity awareness partner is right for you. There are also free resources online that can be utilized, such as those offered by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.