What is cyber security awareness training?

We all have an essential role to play in keeping our businesses safe.

This is why we use cyber security awareness training: to clearly educate learners on the importance of preventing dangerous information security breaches  that affect everybody in a team.

Cyber security training is a fundamental strategy that organisations can adopt to mitigate the risk of cyber- attacks.

So what are cyber attacks and why should I care about them?

Cyber-attacks are serious attempts to disrupt, disable, destroy, and maliciously control the  information systems of another individual and/or organisation. They are inevitably associated with the use of online platforms. The perpetrators of these attacks can steal, leak and damage private and personal information stored in a company’s database.

Attackers aim to steal all kinds of data. To put things into perspective, imagine having your personal bank account details that are stored into your business’ database, stolen. Or imagine if that extensive project you worked on for months alongside your employees suddenly got deleted, with months of work being removed in an instant. This important data can be taken in a cyber-attack and never be seen again or restored to its original form.

Some common cybercrimes

Phishing refers to attempts to acquire confidential data by tricking email recipients into clicking a link or downloading an attachment.

Spyware is software that has been downloaded by attackers that allows them to discretely observe device activity.

Ransomware is used by attackers to remotely infect a device, after which they demand a fee to recover the system, files and data.

Prevention is the best medicine

Cybercrimes are not only extremely common, they can also be extremely costly for companies and individuals. According to Embroker, cybercrime has an associated growth rate of 15 percent each year and could cost companies worldwide around $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, an increase of $3 trillion since 2015.

Alarmingly,  user error is one of the most common causes of phishing and credential theft. So rather than think that this could never happen to you or the business you work for, we  

should all aim to stay ahead of the attackers and learn how to protect our resources by implementing a cybersecurity   training program into our business processes.

Key takeaways for making cybersecurity awareness training as effective as possible

Cyber security awareness training usually takes the form of a structured program or course, containing clearly identified learning outcomes for learners to chart what they will learn, followed by a summative test element – a quiz – to evaluate how much information an employee has retained and understood. The training should be easy to understand and up to date.

Modules should be taken regularly, so that the key concepts remain top of mind for learners. This can be achieved by arranging for learners to undertake refresher courses after a certain amount of time has passed.

To be effective, cyber security training should help learners understand how to apply the correct processes for cyber hygiene – that is, the practices for handling data safely and keeping systems secure they must adopt to ensure – and how to identify and respond to the most common cyber-attacks and security risks they may encounter.

So why is cyber security awareness training important?

Knowledge is power.

That’s why cyber security awareness training should be a top priority of all firms. According to research by Ponemon, even the cyber security training programs can have more than a seven-fold return     on investment.

Another recent study by the Infosecurity Group found that 80% of organisations surveyed believed that security awareness training had reduced their staffs’ susceptibility to phishing attacks. Although this

reduction may not be instant, it can happen surprisingly quickly. Respondents perceived that when their initial training course is complemented by refresher training down the track, their cyber-risk reduced from 60% to 10% in the first 12 months.

So cyber security training can inspire better cyber practices and improve compliance with existing security standards and frameworks

Impact on productivity

Organisations want their employees to be productive, well-informed and confident in their ability to address key risks.

That’s exactly what high-quality cyber security training promotes. Cyber security training can minimise employees’ fear   and uncertainty about  common online threats, by equipping them with more skills to handle those threats.

Productivity rates are  more likely to rise as human error declines and employees are able to swiftly identify security risks that confront them. Training can also reduce pressure on your IT department by reducing breaches, enabling them to focus more on improving your current protective systems.

Do it not only for employees, but for the sake of your clients

Strengthening your business’s cyber security through training can have a positive impact on your client relationships. Clients can rest assured that their data is protected and in safe hands. This can only enhance your business’s reputation for being trustworthy and secure.

On the other hand, a weak cyber security culture can lead to damaging breaches that result in loss of client trust and bad press. A survey conducted by CSO found that 86.55% would be “not at  all likely” or “not very likely” to continue doing business with a company that suffered a data breach.

Working from home

Cyber security training is particularly pertinent at a time when so many of us continue to work from home. Remote working means that cyber attacks will often target employees whose home-based security is vulnerable to breaches.

It’s paramount that employees, including remote workers, possess the knowledge and skills to handle online risks increases cyber security awareness outside traditional workplaces.

Cyberattacks are expensive.

Cybercrime is estimated to cause businesses to experience 25 or more hours of employee downtime. By investing in cybersecurity training, organisations can empower their employees to detect and manage potential intrusions in the earliest stages, thereby minimising the damage. Greenlight has estimated that the average time it takes employees to detect an intrusion is 286 days. This figure can easily be reduced with effective training that explores tactics for early identification.

Cyber security training can prevent breaches, reduce the time and effort taken to address the fallout from incidents and minimise the financial and reputational costs associated with remediation. For all these reasons, deploying effective cyber security training is a no brainer.