What is Cyber Security Awareness Training

Cybersecurity threats, in 2023, are leaving no stones un-turned in becoming the greatest threat for SMBs and enterprises computer security today. As cybercrime damages are estimated to reach more than $10 trillion by 2025 how you perceive cybersecurity training for employees becomes super important in terms of safeguarding your company data and trust.

And why not? No company cannot afford to overlook data breaches, security vulnerabilities and threats as you never know when your very own employees become victims of a highly skilled hacker exploit the human factor through successful phishing scams and other types of cyber-attacks.

The keyword is awareness when it comes to cyber security awareness training and education for employees. This can be understood when employees are the weakest link and cause nearly In fact, human error was the reason behind 90% of cyber data breaches in 2019, reported by ICO.

As human factor, in cybersecurity ecosystem, is being discussed, let us try to understand cybersecurity education to have a secure workforce.

What is Cyber Security awareness training?

Security awareness training program is a formal learning process and fundamental understanding for employees’ education and awareness about computer security.

A security awareness and training program educates an employee about

  • how to recognize a security threat?
  • how to balance trust with verification?
  • how to abide by corporate security policies?
  • how to follow security procedures?

Importance of successful reporting of rising information security concerns lies in the awareness program which empowers an employee to understand a security threat or vulnerability instantly and report it to the security team.

So, as the first line of defense, it is important to have a culture of cybersecurity awareness and enforcement so that work-related computer or mobile device is secured.

By educating and training employees and stakeholders, the workplace understands what needs to be done when it comes to mitigating cyber risks and prevent cyber-crime infiltration into business’s information assets. Digital attacks are constantly on the rise and that is why people should be aware of what is involved in a cyber defense strategy.

With appropriate security measures, coupled with basics of network security best practices, one has a better view of IT governance issues – thanks to regular through information security training sessions.

Why is cyber security awareness training important?

Simply because employee actions lead to cybersecurity incidents.

As they say, to err is human and it perfectly matches with people when we commit mistakes, miss on best practices, or simply fall prey to scams. what is at stake if security fails are a question which is addressed in security awareness training.

We talk so much about humans being the weakest link in the chain. But they can be our strongest line of defense if they know what roles they are supposed to play in the fight against cyber-attacks.  With a strong cybersecurity incident response plan in hand, an organization can be vigilant against cyber threats, thanks to a well-informed workforce and digital network.

Let us see what could happen if there is no security culture:

When employees are not aware of Cyber Security

Various research reports suggest that lack of implementation of cyber safeguards and social engineering, insider threats, and advanced persistent threats are the key drivers of cybersecurity threats.

So, here is the small contrast between a trained workforce and an untrained one:

When employees are not aware, they could be:

  • Victim of malware: “Careless or unaware” employees fall prey to a phishing email, any of a firm’s employee base can end up being part of malware attacks. Emails have 94% share in malware delivery.
  • Fall prey to weak passwords: Weak or reused passwords can make the security of data go for a toss. Contribution of weak passwords can be understood by this fact that on an average of 2.7 accounts, have 8 passwords which is used for both personal and business needs. Moreover, if passwords are not strong, they become another good reason of compromised credentials for a successful Password spraying (a form of brute-force attack).
  • Victim of Social Engineering: Social engineering scams are on the rise and nearly 98% of cyber-attacks rely on social engineering. In fact, more than 40% of IT workers experienced social engineered tactics in 2019.

In this, a hacker is aware or at least have some idea about ‘expectations’ of a person. Exploiting this human urge, then send emails, with phony link, and lure employees to ‘download’ an attachment.

Result? Confidential information and data breach. If all this sounds tricky, suggested is to watch the movie ‘Catch me if you can’.

  • Do not know how to respond to a Cybersecurity incident: When 54% of companies are unable to respond to malicious cyber activity, it clearly means they are not well-prepared to detect, respond and analyze a cyber-attack.
  • Unaware about old software and security patches: Does your company fall under the 60 percent of breaches where unpatched software becomes the key reason of cyber-attacks? Chances are that usage of un-updated or unlicensed software are favorite bait of malicious software downloads, leading to data or file corruption.
  • Compliance mandate: To not be part of headline-raising cyberattacks and data breach adherence to organizational security policies is required.

Lack of Cybersecurity Compliance audits for cybersecurity procedures and risk management can be seen as violation of data security requirements proposed by regulations like

  • Payment Card Industry (PCI)
  • Data Security Standards (DSS)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and
  • CCPA etc.

What is the goal of cybersecurity awareness training?

The objective or goal of a cyber security awareness training is to empower employees, of an organization, with knowledge of computer and information security.

Overall awareness goals and objectives of a successful cybersecurity awareness revolves around the understanding the CIA – confidentiality, availability, and integrity- of an organization’s important data.

With the advancement in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it does not take a lifetime for a hacker to manipulate systems to lay ground for a successful cyber-attack on a state-of-the-art security system. How it happens? By targeting the ‘human factor’.

Lack of information security knowledge, among employees and management, and best practices to keep our ‘crown jewels’ secure also play an important role in these malicious intents of cyber criminals. So, it becomes quite important what businesses know what it takes to outsmart the bad guys on the internet.

Purpose of information security awareness training is described as under:

1. Building A Resilient Cyber security Culture

If we talk about cyber security damages, in the form of monetary loss, it might reach $6 trn in the next year.

Can we do something about it? Our workplace, with informed understanding of the cyber security threats, can mar the progress of cyber-attacks – but only when there is a well-coordinated synchronization is in at the workplace.

This is the point where ‘cyber security culture’ among employees needs to be developed. A group effort to embrace cybersecurity best practices, for work-related activities, to

  • recognize a Phishing email with malicious link or malware
  • not fall prey to fake login pages
  • have a secure password to log in onto computer systems
  • to have the hang of what encryption etc.

Cybersecurity culture can deliver if staff members have fair understanding of identities of the malicious actors, cyber vulnerabilities, enterprise-wide implementation of security safeguards.

2. Compliance with regulations and standards

Security compliance like SEC, FINRA, PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, and other regulations etc. demand importance of human element in secure workplace.

A modern cyber security awareness program with modules and tips. So, to protect end-users from data or information breach, cybersecurity awareness program is a crucial part of ‘Defense-in-depth’ to keep businesses safe from cyberattacks.

Let’s understand which are the top regulations talking about importance of security awareness training in their rules:

3. PCI DSS 12. 6 – formal security awareness training program

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) has list of 12 requirements under 6 categories, PCI DSS 12.6, that talks about training on security topics, for all employees, and importance of cardholder data security.

4. HIPAA Privacy Rule 45 CFR and 164.530(b)(1) – security awareness training for protected health information (PHI)

Both HIPAA rules make sure that security awareness resides on top of the mind of employees. Workforce members should be aware of policies and procedures with respect to PHI.

5. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) 4 U.S.C. & 3544 Security Training

FISMA 4 U.S.C. and 3544 throw light on security awareness training program for contractors and “other uses of information systems”.

6. NIST Special Publication 800-53 – Security awareness training and security awareness

NIST 800-53 talks about Security and Privacy Controls, including basic security awareness training to information system users (including managers, senior executives, and contractors).

7. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) rule, 16 CFR 314.4

According to GLBA 16 CFR 314.4, it is required that employees get training to make themselves understand, recognize, and respond to fraud or identity theft.

8. The International Standards Organization (ISO)’s Information Security standard ISO/IEC 27002:2005

It, basically, talks about all employees getting data security awareness training.

There are other regulations codes and standards which talk about security awareness training.

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