When discussing the importance of adopting a strong cybersecurity strategy, too often the focus is on technology solutions designed to prevent and mitigate cyber-attacks. Certainly, the adoption of tools and solutions is integral to a strong security posture. Yet, as noted in Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, a staggering 82 percent of data breaches involve some sort of human element. Bad actors infiltrate networks through phishing schemes, stolen credentials, or employee error or misuse. Even with the most advanced technologies in place, security systems are doomed to fail if they are not supported by the right security awareness training.
Over the past few years, phishing attacks and social engineering tactics have become increasingly more sophisticated. According to the RSM Middle Market 2022 Cybersecurity special report, lack of employee training and human error are among the biggest drivers of cybersecurity incidents. Phishing attacks, a form of social engineering where attackers try to deceive employees into revealing sensitive information or installing malware, are a recurring and evergreen threat. The latest phishing missives include content that closely mimics the look and feel of trusted brands or partners. Busy or distracted employees may click on fake links within legitimate-looking emails or websites without a second thought.
Investing in comprehensive security awareness training programs can significantly reduce an organization’s overall risk of a data breach. Employees who are reliably trained in safe online practices are more likely to use strong passwords and practice good security hygiene. They are also less likely to fall for phishing scams or other forms of social engineering attacks. After implementing an ongoing testing and training program for employees, many organizations achieve an almost 90 percent reduction in phishing entrapments in a single year.
Basic annual “one and done” security training is no longer enough. It’s crucial that companies regularly evaluate their security awareness training programs to ensure they are addressing the latest threats. A comprehensive security awareness training service should not only provide your employees with up-to-date information about current and emerging threats, it should also conduct regular phishing simulations to help employees put security best practices in the day-to-day context of their work.
In addition to regular training and simulation efforts, companies that provide employees with regular security bulletins or alerts, with easy access to online resources and training materials, can better equip employees to avoid common social engineering traps. It’s also important to encourage your team to ask questions if they are unsure about the security implications of the technology they use – and provide them with an easy way to report any suspicious activity they may observe.
Maintaining a strong security posture is a team effort. It’s clear that technology can’t do the job on its own. It is imperative that organizations educate and empower their employees to recognize and appropriately respond to cyberattacks. When companies prioritize employee training programs, they reinforce the technology investments they’ve made to support their cybersecurity strategy. When your employees have access to the right security training and resources, they transform from a significant risk to an additional – and essential – line of defense to protect your organization from data breaches. That’s why ongoing, up-to-date, and comprehensive employee training adds another layer of protection to help combat the ever-evolving threat of cyberattacks.