Cybersecurity Awareness: 7 Factors for Your Employees to Consider

cyber-security-awareness

Prepare your employees to identify and manage potential cyber security threats.

Would your employees recognize a social engineering scam such as CEO fraud? Do they even know what their information security responsibilities are? Even if your organization has invested in advanced security solutions to protect sensitive business data, they won’t do any good if your employees are not cyber aware.

Threat actors are getting smarter and savvier, and it only takes a single misguided keystroke or mouse click to expose your network and data to varied cybercrime threats. While employees are recognized as the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, they can actually serve as the first line of defense, provided they have the knowledge and skills to identify and manage cybersecurity risks.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month – a great time to begin or build your cyber training, onboarding, and awareness program.

Here are 7 must-have topics for your cyber security awareness training program:

Phishing

Phishing attacks are the most common method used by threat actors to gain access to an organization’s network. In fact, phishing incidents have skyrocketed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This form of social engineering attack impersonates a trusted party to fool users into handing over sensitive information.

This attack is often executed over email, but increasingly within SMS, social media, and other instant messaging services. Attackers will try to get your employees to click on a link by offering some incentives or creating a sense of urgency. Spear phishing is a more complex and targeted form of attack, legitimizing emails to end-users using specific staff identities. For instance, an email impersonating the company CEO, or a viable client is likely to be clicked on by employees.

Cybersecurity awareness training for phishing involves teaching employees to:

  • identify email red flags and attempted phishing attacks
  • avoid clicking on unknown or suspicious links
  • beware of email attachments
  • avoid giving away sensitive data

Social engineering tests, such as email phishing and phone vishing, are great ways to evaluate employee awareness and response.

Passwords

A simple but often overlooked element that should be included in your cybersecurity awareness training is password security. Using simple passwords or having the same password for multiple accounts can make it simple for hackers to access a large range of accounts. Once a hacker compromises the accounts, they can steal information, sell it for profit on the dark web, or make it public.

Password security awareness training teaches employees to create strong, unique passwords that make it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to accounts. If your organization has deployed two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA), both of which provide an extra layer of security to password protection, employees also need to learn about why and how these technologies are important.

Removable Media

Portable storage media, such as USB drives, CDs, SD cards, smartphones, and external hard drives can also pose a security threat to your organization. For example, a USB stick containing malware can be left for your employees to find. When they plug it into your computers, the cybercriminal can install ransomware, steal data, and disable company devices.

Your employees need to know never to plug unknown removable media into a company computer. They should also understand how to use these devices safely and responsibly, ensuring the data stored on the devices is protected and remains uncompromised.

Mobile Device Security

With the changing landscape of IT technologies and the recent move to remote working environments, many employees have the option to work on the go using mobile devices. Companies have also implemented bring your own device (BYOD) policies. The increased flexibility has widened the threat landscape and created an avenue for more sophisticated cyberattacks.

You need to ensure employees understand the unintentional consequences of leaving devices unattended. Encourage the use of strong passwords, encryption, and MFA to ensure sensitive information won’t be accessed by malicious actors if the device is stolen or lost. Training on the safe use of personal devices to access company data is also necessary.

Wi-Fi

While seemingly safe and convenient, free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop, train, airport, or other public places can pose a substantial risk to confidentiality and information security. Connecting to the company network of data using an unsecured Wi-Fi could create an entry point into the company’s network and expose valuable information. Hackers often create fake public Wi-Fi networks and sometimes they use off-the-shelf software to intercept data transferred over public networks.

Cyber security awareness training should educate your employees on the safe use of public Wi-Fi networks and the common signs to spot fake Wi-Fi. It should also underscore the importance of using a VPN or virtual desktop solution if employees absolutely have to make use of public Wi-Fi networks, especially when traveling or working remotely.

Web Safety

While using the internet, your employees can be exposed to cyber threats and vulnerabilities through the browser or social media sites they visit. It’s easy for your employees to make decisions that could compromise your IT security if they don’t understand how the web browser works. Understanding the makeup of a URL and ways to spot a malicious website is crucial to end-user cyber security awareness. Your employees also need to understand the importance of changing default browser security configurations and keeping their browsers up to date.

Social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, are also sources of vulnerabilities. Your employees need to be trained on best practices for social media and it’s also important to implement a policy on the use of a company email to register or communicate on social media.

Malware

Malware is a type of software designed to gather information or cause damage to a computer. It just takes a single employee for malicious software to make its way into your company’s systems. Malware can come in many forms, including:

  • Adware: clogs your devices up with adverts
  • Spyware: monitors user activity and sends sensitive information to another computer
  • Ransomware: holds an organization’s devices and data hostage often in exchange for payment

Cybersecurity awareness training should help employees know how malware can affect your company, spot, and defend against malware threats, and remediate malware attacks. Employees should have anti-virus software and be aware of what kind of files they are downloading on their devices.

Be Cyber-Smart with SCA Security Awareness Training

This October, work with SCA to develop a plan to reduce your organization’s cybersecurity risks. We will help improve cybersecurity awareness with training and social engineering tests that address human error and convey real value to your team. Contact us at (727) 571-1141 to speak with one of our experts.