Is Your Cybersecurity Awareness Training as Effective as You Think?

Is Your Cybersecurity Awareness Training as Effective as You Think?

Not all employees are aware that they possibly pose a security threat to the company. Some of them may not even be familiar with phishing and other common scams and may not understand their responsibilities toward protecting company data. 

Unfortunately, even with top-of-the-line cybersecurity systems, your company won’t be completely safe from cyberattacks unless your workforce is properly trained to identify and handle them. This is why regularly conducting an effective cybersecurity awareness training program is important.

What Should Be Included In Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

Organizations conduct cybersecurity awareness training to educate employees about the fundamentals of cyberthreats and to prepare them for attacks. It can be done as an online course on demand, which staff can take at their own pace and as many times as necessary. 

To improve employees’ attitudes toward security, training programs should be engaging, current, and relevant to the business. It must also cover key points, including:

  • Different kinds of threats – Staff must be trained to know and identify spam, phishing scams, social engineering attacks, and the various types of malware, including ransomware.
  • Password security – Employees must understand why it’s essential to set strong passwords (i.e., ideally 16 characters or more and have lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols).
  • Email and internet use – Staff must be taught to be cautious about opening an email from unknown senders and clicking on links from a suspicious email. 
  • Social media best practices – Employees must be trained to follow cybersecurity best practices when accessing personal or company social media accounts. Policies must state do’s and don’ts when browsing social media, receiving direct messages, and accessing social media on personal and/or company-issued devices.

The Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Training to SOC 2 Compliance

Most businesses could greatly benefit from incorporating a strong cybersecurity awareness training program into their security framework. This is crucial at a time when the increased number of social engineering scams and fast-evolving cyberthreats make cybersecurity more challenging for IT teams in 2021.

Service providers that transmit personally identifiable customer data in the cloud — specifically, organizations that must create a SOC type 2 report — should have an effective cybersecurity awareness training program. SOC 2 compliance is aimed at assuring customers, management, and other stakeholders that a business’s security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and/or privacy controls are effective. Companies that need to pass a SOC 2 audit should, therefore, foster a strong cybersecurity culture and ensure that security policies are strictly adhered to. 

Related article: What Is SOC 2 Compliance And Why Is It Important For Your Business?

More importantly, business owners should continually improve security awareness campaigns and periodically assess whether everyone in the organization is security aware. Luckily, certain indicators can help determine if cybersecurity awareness training is effective.

Considering the Number of Security Incidents

If you started implementing a security awareness training in 2019 and consequently saw security incidents decline from five (incidents) last year to just two this year, for example, your program can be said to be effective. 

However, a reduction in the number of incidents in a given period is not enough. When evaluating the effectiveness of security awareness training, you must also take into account things like breach severity. For example, if your organization experienced only two breaches in 2019 but both were severe and caused by the same human error, then your cybersecurity awareness training may not have been effective after all.

According to the Ponemon Institute, the following components must be considered to assess if your security awareness training is up to par: 

  • Compliance – Remaining compliant with various regulations and laws is a good indicator that your employees are following security best practices, which, in turn, prevents the organization from committing violations. 
  • Ability to prevent and contain threats – Being able to immediately detect threats or take action upon being attacked demonstrates that your program is effective. On the other hand, suffering a data breach and letting it go undetected is a sign that it isn’t. 
  • Uptime – In case of a hacking incident, being able to continue operations without major disruptions or serious threats to critical company data indicates an effective program. 
  • Insider threat preventability – This concerns an organization’s ability to prevent security incidents that may be carried out through abuse of access rights, theft of materials, and mishandling physical devices, or employee negligence.
  • Policy enforcement – This refers to the ability to monitor staff’s capability to follow cybersecurity policies.
  • Cost efficiency – Effective cybersecurity awareness training also helps keep organizations’ security costs at a reasonable level. It prevents drastic increases in security costs resulting from breach-related expenses. 

Charles IT has been helping small- to medium-sized businesses develop solid cybersecurity strategies that prevent costly breaches. Call our security awareness experts to learn how we can help you.

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