Many people still think of cybersecurity as being a technical problem and the sole responsibility of the IT department. But the truth is, cybercriminals aren’t always the skilled hackers like those portrayed in popular culture. Instead of targeting vulnerabilities in technology, they go after the weakest link – which is usually people themselves.
Why Include Security Awareness Training in your IT Budget?
The majority of cyberattacks involve a human element, simply because it’s far easier to exploit human ignorance and unpreparedness than hack through encryption and other cutting-edge security controls. As such, the only way to truly protect your organization against cyberthreats is to ensure your employees are up to speed with the problem. That’s why every information technology budget template should include security awareness training.
What Should Cybersecurity Awareness Training Include?
For most people, the thought of cybersecurity training conjures up an image of pure boredom, but things don’t have to be that way. Security experts should never take an academic approach to awareness training, and neither should they obsess over endless lists of statistics. Instead, they should make training sessions engaging and enjoyable through interactive content and hands-on simulations.
Training should cover all the main threat vectors, such as malicious software, weak user login credentials, safe browsing habits, social media dangers, and physical measures like keeping a clean desk.
#1. Develop a Security-Aware Company Culture
By allocating a dedicated part of your information technology budget for security awareness training, businesses can legitimize its need in the boardroom and create a security-first company culture. Everyone in the company is a potential target, no matter their rank or role. Attackers routinely exploit executives too, so there’s a strong need to lead by example. That’s why everyone needs to be involved in your training program. Security awareness training should never be a mere afterthought, but the driving force behind your organization-wide security strategy.
#2. Empower Innovation Without Increasing Risk
For too long has cybersecurity been seen as a barrier to innovation. Security leaders are often accused of being the people who say no to the rollout of new apps and systems. Sometimes, executives even avoid innovation for fear it will increase the risk to their organization. Training changes the company culture into one that doesn’t fear cyberattacks, but is instead prepared for them. When they’re equipped with the knowledge and experience to innovate safely, with security implemented by design and default, business leaders and employees will be better placed to drive growth.
#3. Protect Your Company’s Reputation
It’s hard to measure the cost of a data breach. While the direct costs of stolen records might be obvious following an investigation, it’s the many indirect costs that often present the bigger problem. After all, it’s hard to quantify the cost of reputational damage following a cyberattack. With a comprehensive training program, you can reduce the risk to your brand reputation and educate your employees so they can demonstrate awareness when it comes to protecting the company’s assets and their customers’ information.
#4. Counter Security Threats Proactively
Automation can only go so far to prevent and mitigate cyberattacks. Still, your employees are the first and last in the defense of your organization. Using engaging and interactive training sessions to raise awareness equips employees with the knowledge and experience they need to call out potential threats before they become a problem. It helps create accountability, while putting security at the forefront of your business strategy. Every information technology budget template should account for proactive cybersecurity measures that are introduced to prevent threats in the first place.
#5. Overcome the Threat of Social Engineering
Almost all cyberattacks include a phishing element. Most start with a malicious email, although others happen over social media, through malicious websites, or even over the phone. There’s only one effective and legitimate way to guard against these threats, and that’s through proper training. People need to be able to recognize threats that the spam filters and other security controls miss, such as the more sophisticated and targeted social engineering scams. Training should include hands-on phishing simulations that provide an interactive experience based on real-world examples.
Charles IT offers security awareness training to help you turn your employees from the weakest link into the first and last line of defense. Contact us to learn more about our training programs!
Editors Note: This blog was originally published November 9th, 2020 and has been updates December 19th, 2022 for accuracy.