3 Ways to Create an Effective Employee Cybersecurity Training Program
No matter how robust and impenetrable you believe that your IT infrastructure is, it is rendered useless when you fail to train your employees adequately in cybersecurity. They are your last line of defense against external threats and can significantly affect your network’s validity. You never want your staff to accidentally click the wrong link and infect your entire system, putting your sensitive data at risk. To protect your information from malware, you’ll need an effective cybersecurity training program. Here are three ways you can create a successful strategy for your employees!
1. Debunk IT Misconceptions
Employees who are not experienced with computers and programming have many misconceptions about cybersecurity and struggle to grasp the severity of specific attacks. They might not realise that certain habits of theirs can weaken the integrity of your entire IT infrastructure. Take the time to first address any confusion on the topic and lay certain misconceptions to rest. Explain to them that:
> Data encryption is essential.
For some reason, many people believe that their information is safe on their device, even though it’s unencrypted. They don’t realise that data needs to be protected; otherwise, it’s a clear invitation for someone to breach your network and steal it.
> Most passwords are not strong enough.
Although the tech world has been advising users to create much stronger passwords for years now, most individuals have never changed their primary user log-in. Some don’t even have password protection in the first place because they think it’s unnecessary. Even if your computer is physically locked away in the workplace, someone with malicious intent can still access it.
Also, passwords with actual words are weak since the software can run through a dictionary until it finds the correct words. Every device needs a long and random password–use a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
> You must follow company regulations and security policies.
Regular employees typically don’t even know their own company’s regulations regarding privacy. Some specific standards and acts need to be observed when dealing with sensitive data–you don’t want a lawsuit on your hands because you failed to abide by them. You must remind your employees that they should never store data in unsecured locations, such as on their devices or in an unprotected manner. They might not realise that they’re violating security policies by keeping their data alongside your clients’ data in unsafe storage space.
> Malware does not spread by proximity.
Some believe malware acts like an actual virus, spreading to the rest of the devices by physical contact or proximity. They don’t realise that the virus travels through the network, so that the exact threat can attack a computer in an entirely different room. There is no guarantee of hardware safety based on location. Locking or turning it off isn’t enough to prevent a virus from breaching it either.
2. Identify Common Scamming Methods
The second way you create an effective program is by training your staff to correctly identify scams and ransomware that they come across on their devices. Email is perhaps the weakest point in any IT security, so go over examples of what an attempted hack would look like and what kind of damage it could cause. Set up firewalls to automatically deal with malicious content before it arrives in your employees’ inboxes, but also for outgoing threats as well. Your employees might accidentally leak something or open up an access point unknowingly, so you should add software to prevent it. To add a level of protection, review phishing and social engineering attacks. Give your employees the tools and education to recognise threats independently and distinguish trustworthy content from suspicious ones.
3. Engage With Your Employees
Your training program will only ever be successful if you get your employees to participate in it actively. It’s essential to run tests with them, both knowingly and unknowingly. You can work together to inspect suspicious material, observe warning signs in the first attack, and test them with a hidden phishing scam afterward. It gives them firsthand experience with scams and allows you to build upon a foundation for educational purposes.
It would also be best if you helped them understand that this training program is essential to their lives whether they continue to work at your office or not. It’s impossible to escape the digital world, so they must learn to protect themselves from threats. Even if you run a small business or are just an individual, hackers constantly look for weak systems to exploit. You don’t want to suffer from identity theft because you fell victim to a simple phishing attack. Personalise your training program to meet your workforce’s needs by showing them how to protect their devices at home, too.
Utilise various methods to encourage active engagement with the program and continued practice with security protocols. Send out reminders to your employees to back up their data and have quarterly password updates for your entire office. You could even send out newsletters or create social media campaigns to continue explaining IT security concepts. Make these messages user-friendly and easy to access, such as a minute-long instructional video. Reward those employees who follow these practices and develop strong security habits.
You need to design a training program that addresses common misconceptions and educates your employees on how to adopt practices to reinforce your security measures. Remember to focus on engaging them with the material and continually help them improve their computer habits. Only then can you begin to see a change in their practices and trust that they can increase your cybersecurity and protect your data.
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