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The Importance of Training: Cybersecurity Awareness like a Human Firewall The businesses are always at danger of threat from within the organization. An organization's security can be easily crashed by an employee or human error, where careless or ignorant staffs are the second assuredly cause of a serious security breach

By Remesh Ramachandran

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There is an epidemic of cybersecurity threats and no one's data is safe anymore. Enterprises can therefore not afford to overlook the primary significance of training its employees of the threats and best practises to encounter cybersecurity. So, how well is your enterprise or employee equipped against highly skilled criminals, malicious hackers or nations that aim to steal data or any other valuable information or service?

Studies have shown majority of the digital attacks are attempts to exploit the human factor through very creative and luring phishing attempts and other related efforts. Almost 90% of the data breaches are caused by human errors, hence reinforcing the need for continuous employee education on cybersecurity. Malicious attackers and other highly skilled hackers usually seek to trick users into giving them early access to a digital resource long before they actualize their attempt to hack their way into the system. People can therefore, be considered as the weakest link in any organization's cybersecurity defences. This is why people are, in most cases, the primary targets of cyber-attackers who use techniques and tools such as spear phishing, social engineering, ransomware and malware. In addition, people are easier to compromise and exploit at a scale unlike finding a single software to breach an organization or enterprise business. While we make all the required arrangements to improve the existing security infrastructure, ignorance of human resources would leave a significant gap in the defence strategy.

Importance of continuously training employees on cybersecurity

How can an employee recognize, report or eliminate a security threat if they do not know how to recognize it at the first place? They cannot. A survey, State of IT Security 2019, shows that email security and employee training are the top challenges faced by information technology (IT) security professionals. Despite firewalls and other security software, employees are still the most common entry points for phishers. For a company with more employees, equally, the entry points increase and likewise, it implies an increase in "phish' in the sea. Online cybersecurity training is to help employees to protect themselves and the company against cyber attacks and threats. Training empowers employees with an up-to-date know-how on how to recognize and mitigate a cyber-threat. By making employees able to identify and eliminate cyber threats, you are strengthening the most vulnerable link in the chain. This way, phishers will willingly move on to other people's waters, as there is no "phish' in your waters to trap with their baits.

Why is the security awareness training important to every organization?

With the current IT infrastructure, most hackers use artificial intelligence nowadays. Systems are manipulated such that most breaches involve some kind of human error. Organizations should therefore train their employees to avoid attack from social engineering to protect their fundamental resources for conducting business and flawlessly interact with customers.

Simple and repetitive tasks can be modelled into automated systems. Nevertheless, people will always be behind the operation of any automated task and on the end of every email, chat session or a phone call. People, therefore, present the concept of "human factor" in the crosshairs or cyber attackers. The only defence against such attacks is by education or in other terms, by providing employees with security awareness training.

Security awareness topics to cover in your employee training

Different forms of cybersecurity threats: To effectively identify and prevent potential security breaches, employees will need an elementary enlightenment of the various ways that a threat can present itself. For instance, you can tell them about spams, malware, social engineering, phishing among others.

Importance of password security: Explain to your employees that passwords are the first line of protection to protect your sensitive and valuable information from hackers. You should also show the employees how to set a strong password that incorporates a combination of symbols, letters and numbers.

How to identify and report cybersecurity threats: Employees are the eyes and ears of an organization on the ground. Every device they use or emails they receive may contain clues about a lurking malware, virus, password hack or a phishing scam. First, educate employees on how to spot these unexplained errors and legitimate antivirus warnings. Then educate on how to report the red flags and who to tell about the suspicious intrusions.

Email, internet and social media policies: Emailing and browsing habits of an employee can expose the company to attacks. Therefore, it is crucial to include policies and guidelines in your training for using email, Internet and social media platforms.

Best practice for cybersecurity training for employees

The main purpose of the training process is to create a sense of shared responsibility and accountability so that the company is safe from attacks due to human factor.

Make online cybersecurity training mandatory for every new employee. Update and repeat training regularly and make it a continuous process, not a once-in-a-blue moon event. This helps to keep up with the ever-evolving cyber-threats.

Now that you have come all the way to the end, are you going to share the information with relevant individuals or companies? Companies are falling prey to cyber attacks daily and the chances that such occurrences could be eliminated if one employee had known what to look for are high and workable. The big question that remains is that, as individual, company or enterprise, are you doing enough? What efforts are you putting to get your employees on board with current matters to do with cybersecurity? The future is luminous, but cyber-attacks are like mutating organisms and therefore frequent and gradual training is a necessity in security defence.

Remesh Ramachandran

CISO | Security Researcher | Ethical hacker

Remesh Ramachandran is an ethical hacker. He has solved several sophisticated cybercrime and real-world hacking cases, and has worked for the government and various other national and international agencies. Remesh is currently working as a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) for an organisation.

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