what is cyber awareness training

Cyber awareness training is something your company should have in place. If you’re still sitting on the fence, waiting to pull the trigger, don’t wait any longer, and here’s why!

According to IBM’s, ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report,’ the United States holds the record for the highest cost in data breach damages measuring in at a whopping $9.44M. This cost is $5M more than the global average. 

And if those numbers don’t get you off that fence, 90-95% of cyber breaches are due to human error and begin with a simple email. Employees open 1-4 phishing emails. Something tells me that you don’t want your business to crumble due to an email. 

What is Cyber Awareness Training?

At its basic level, cyber awareness training is the level of awareness and understanding your employees have of cyber threats. It’s important to think of your employees as the first line of defense against the war of cyberattacks. 

Cybercriminals use tools like those pesky phishing emails to penetrate cyber security defenses. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on a training tool if your employees can’t spot a hacker’s ill intent. And unfortunately, the stats prove that your employees will be targeted. It’s not a matter of how, but when.

Cyber awareness training should be done regularly and be specific due to how fast technology advances for both end users (your employees) and cybercriminals.  A good cyber awareness program will focus on the human element, consist of on-demand training that is educational and engaging, and provide ongoing follow up and reporting.

Why is Cyber Awareness Training Important?

When considering if cyber awareness training is right for your business and employees, remember that a cyberattack can cripple a business leaving it financially ruined. This can all happen from a single email! In 2022, companies in the U.S. suffered a 76% increase in financial loss due to successful phishing emails. And hackers are crafty. 

One report showed that 44% of people think an email is safe when it contains familiar branding, but more than 30 million malicious messages sent in 2022 involved Microsoft branding or products.” Phishing emails continue to be a cybercriminal’s best friend. 

At the executive level there should be cyber awareness training conversations happening. The CISO (chief information security officer), or someone in a comparable role, should be working with HR to roll out a program to employees while working with executive colleagues to mitigate risk. Yes, it will be an investment, but the reward is improved security, cyber risk visibility leading to increased brand authority and improved regulatory compliance. 

What Topics Should be Covered in Cyber Awareness Training?

When deciding on a cyber awareness program, remember that your employees are not cybersecurity experts, and they all learn in different capacities. The program that you roll out should be interactive and engaging. The effectiveness of the program will depend on it. 

Cyber awareness training should include audio, text, and video components. A popular approach is 3–5-minute short, interactive videos followed by a quiz. Topics can include: 

  • Phishing and social engineering: cybercriminals understand human behavior and will exploit your employees’ emotions to convince them to hand over sensitive information like credentials, or even to transfer funds.
  • Ransomware and malware: your employees should understand how to handle, share, store, and dispose of sensitive information. Should they download and open that PDF?
  • Information security: your employees should understand how to handle, share, store, and dispose of sensitive information. 
  • Remote work protocol: do any of your employees work from home? Do they understand the importance of secure Wi-Fi networks and how to use a VPN?
  • Password security: having a strong password is a must. Training programs should include password management and best practices. 
  • Incident response: do your employees know what to do and what their responsibilities are if there’s a data breach?

How Long Should Training Be and What’s the Cost?

For cyber awareness training to be effective, a company needs buy-in from the top down. Think about creating a culture built around cybersecurity where your employees (the end users) have the power on the front lines of cyberattacks. 

One of the most impactful ways to create a company culture around cybersecurity is to make it a part of mandatory onboarding. Set an upfront contract that new employees will undergo training on an ongoing basis. 

Regarding the programs, costs vary anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. The size of your company and number of employees will determine the cost. And once you have a program and plan in place, don’t think you’re done. A great way to improve your company’s cybersecurity culture is to regularly test your plan! 

Taking the Next Steps

So, are you still sitting on the fence? Are you convinced it’s time to set up a training program for your company and employees?

To sum up the importance of cyber awareness training remember these three things:

  • Cybersecurity should be baked into the company culture. A training tool is only as good as the end user’s comfortability.
  • Don’t just set it and forget it. Training should be ongoing and don’t forget to test your safety plan.
  • Yes, training is an investment, but it will help secure the long-term growth of your business.

If you’d like to learn more about cyber awareness training, send us an email and we can walk you through the program our employees use. I think you’ll like it!

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