Businesses need to be strategic and proactive in their approach to cybersecurity education and awareness training and make sure they are covering the right topics.
Cybersecurity has become, and will continue to be, one of the most critical issues affecting organizations and individuals today. From the government level down to family households, the security implications that accompany our rapid proliferation of digital devices and enhanced connectivity are leading to accumulating risks, compromising our sensitive data and threatening our privacy and safety. Businesses, in particular, have been encouraged to accelerate their cybersecurity efforts and prioritize information security initiatives to mitigate the rising cyber risks.
Unfortunately, ensuring end-to-end cyber safety and computer protection has been challenging for most organizations, with reasons being attributed to a variety of factors including shortage of skills, lack of awareness and training, inefficient education and delayed incident response planning.
Although there have been significant movements made toward encouraging more students to enter the cybersecurity workforce and urging educators to improve curriculums so they provide training and skills that better align with real-world applications, this process is not happening quickly enough. Until we have enough information security professionals to fill the open positions rapidly accumulating across industries, businesses need to be strategic and proactive in their approach to cybersecurity.
“For effective cybersecurity strategies, businesses need to start with internal training.”
Developing a stronger cybersecurity education strategy
Corporate leaders simply cannot afford to sit back and hope that their lackluster IT strategies are enough to prevent them from falling victim to a digital disruption. There is too much at stake. As we have previously mentioned, there have been handfuls of studies indicating that a large portion of data and security breaches among organizations can be attributed to internal users and employees. This, paired with the shortage of IT talent and lack of awareness and preparedness plaguing so many businesses today, highlights the crucial importance of companies implementing cybersecurity training programs.
But, to ensure that they are giving their workers the best and most effective education possible, business leaders need to make sure their training programs cover all the important aspects of cybersecurity. At the end of an education and awareness initiative, all users should be able to understand:
1. What cybersecurity is and what technologies are involved
Although many people hear or read about the term on a daily basis, it can still be a bit confusing. Of course, different levels of professionals throughout the organization will need to know varying degrees of this information. The training given to administrative assistants, for example, likely won’t be, or need to be, as in-depth and technical as the education given to the team’s software developers. However, there should be a general awareness and understanding of the different types of malware, hardware, digital devices and computer networks that are involved in cybersecurity.
2. What tools are used to defend against them
Similar to knowing what the different terms and meanings are, it is helpful if members throughout the company have a comprehensive understanding of the function of each. For example, realizing the importance of antivirus software, firewalls and encryption can help clear up some confusion people may have. Keep in mind that it should never be assumed that everyone in the business has a general understanding of this information. Additionally, the training should include details bout the specific systems and software programs that are used by the organization in particular to make the material more applicable.
To avoid hacking schemes, users need to know what to look for.
3. What the security vulnerabilities and risks are, as well as their implications
Employees will be more inclined to adhere to cybersecurity policies and processes if they know what’s at stake. It’s all too easy for users to fall victim to spear phishing attacks or other security hacks that could have otherwise been avoided. To enhance risk mitigation, it is imperative that all members know what the threats are, as well as how and where to look for them. Furthermore, corporate leaders should hone in on the biggest threats to their organizations in particular.
4. What the industry’s standards and regulations are
Each business is different and there are varying concerns based on the sector. By educating employees on the safety standards and regulation policies and procedures of the industry, company executives can better ensure their respective organizations are maintaining the highest level of compliance.
“Every employee, at every level, plays a role in the cybersecurity of an organization.”
5. The role they play in the cybersecurity
One of the most critical takeaways that users should have at the end of a cybersecurity training and awareness program is a thorough understanding of the role they play. They may not be responsible for carrying out the incident response plan, but each staff member has a responsibility to the security of the business. Personal devices can be infiltrated. Opening a work email and clicking on a link can compromise the entire infrastructure of the firm, as well as the privacy of both the business’s assets and all of its consumers’ information. With so much on the line, it is imperative that companies take presumptive and proactive measures to ensure the best possible approach to information security and computer protection throughout every layer and level of the organization.
If a business is struggling to onboard the appropriate cybersecurity professionals needed to ensure the safeguarding of the organization, one of the most cost-effective yet valuable investments that can be made is to provide preparation training courses to existing staff members that allow them to pass IT certifications exams, such as those issued by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)2, ISACA and the SANS Institute.
At the National Cybersecurity Institute, we offer a range of courses that teach professionals, at every level of experience and education background, what they need to know to pass these exams. By completing one of the classes, such as the (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), they will be armed with the necessary skills needed to not only become certified in cybersecurity, but to drive the threat intelligence improvements of a business and guarantee future protection.
LeClair, J. (Ed.). (2013). Protecting Our Future, Volume 2: Educating a Cybersecurity Workforce. Albany, NY: Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press.