If Your Employees Aren’t Strengthening Your Security, They’re Weakening It – You Need Cybersecurity Awareness Training

For an organization to be successful, critical goals of all team members involve a shared investment in its future. Is cybersecurity a shared priority?

Cyber Security Trainng

How invested is your team in the success of your company? How careful is your team when it comes to network protection and cybersecurity? How aware are team members of your security protocols and risks? Basic information assurance training is no longer effective as a means of self-awareness and protection, nor is it a reliable indicator of the level of awareness of your collective team.

  • What is information assurance? Processing, storage, and transmission of information (data) involve systems – and risks. Information assurance is the practice of protecting this data and these systems to ensure its security and to minimize risk.

It’s no longer enough to include a combination of letters and numbers in your passwords. Today’s sophisticated cybercriminals have an arsenal of tools that can crack a password in a matter of moments, and we need to be far more vigilant with our data.

What is the greatest threat to every organization in the world? It’s no longer the threat of someone picking a lock or breaking a glass window to get inside an office building; the only assets to gain are low-end computers that burglars can’t re-sell quickly. To say cybercrime is on the rise is the proverbial understatement of the year. Cybercrime tools and services are being marketed on the Internet – and there’s little we can (successfully) do to stop it at the grassroots level.

The primary tools a hacker needs are a computer and an Internet connection to access a network. What is the primary goal of a hacker? The simple answer is, to cause harm. Nearly half of all cyber attacks focus on small businesses because they are easier targets – small businesses don’t have the deep pockets that global organizations do to invest in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity vulnerabilities can end a small business.

The majority of global enterprises are targeted multiple times each year, with hackers relentlessly seeking the smallest weakness in a network to gain access. Once a hacker gains access, the impact on a business can range from ID theft to ransomware and countless other circumstances, and none of them with positive outcomes. Only those infiltrations with the greatest impact are heard about, and it’s not because of the volume of data, or the number of consumers whose personally identifiable information (PII) were compromised, though this is newsworthy. We hear about the successful cyber attacks as a lesson in how to better protect ourselves, and to become more aware of our vulnerabilities.

Consider the first three questions we asked:

  • How invested is your team in the success of your company?
  • How careful is your team when it comes to network protection and cybersecurity?
  • How aware are team members of your security protocols and risks?

These three questions share one focus: security. Security leads to success, which is a byproduct of longevity. Companies with a commitment to cybersecurity awareness training for its teams fare better in cyber attacks. These same organizations often have a higher overall degree of awareness among end users.

Four key areas outline your cybersecurity awareness program:

  • Baseline: Determine how aware your team members currently are.
  • Goals: Define where you need to be, and set a deadline.
  • Plan: Formulate a step-by-step agenda for your team to get from your baseline to complete each of your goals by their assigned deadlines.
  • Maintenance: Your team will need support throughout the process, as well as ongoing support after each goal is achieved.

Cybersecurity awareness levels range from nonexistent to maximum security, and today it pays to know where your company – and your team – ranks.

  • Nonexistent:
    • Cybersecurity “newbies” are the most vulnerable and have no goals, no plan, and no clue when it comes to the potential impact of their naivety.
  • Compliant:
    • These companies meet the bare minimum and follow the basic rules that someone read about in an email newsletter. Staff is offered annual training, but the information isn’t comprehensive, nor is security understood or strictly enforced.
    • This type of awareness focuses on “yesterday”, primarily reviewing what has already happened.
  • Goal-Oriented:
    • These organizations are one step above compliant, in that they’ve established goals for themselves, but do the goals match the needs of the company?
    • There may be a formal policy, but is it understood and widely used? Is it enforced, and by whom?
    • This level of awareness focuses on “today”, with an understanding of how yesterday impacts today.
  • Proactive:
    • These companies have established programs, dedicated staff for cybersecurity and information protective measures. These team members oversee the program, enforce policies, make modifications, hold regular reviews, and are communicative to all company personnel in order to ensure safety protocols are understood and followed.
    • Proactive organizations are always looking at tomorrow, and what needs to be done for the best outcome. This is a great level to achieve, even if it’s not the most secure, as this level of awareness involves all staff and establishes a professional culture of expectations and guidelines.
  • Robust
    • The maximum security measures an organization can utilize are seen at this tier, where teams take action to continuously improve cybersecurity protection.
    • These companies are taking a hard look at today and tomorrow where their network, risks, and safety protocols are concerned but the focus is more on next week, next month, and next year for sustainability and growth.

The greatest obstacle at each step outlined above is the “unknown” factor. You may not fully comprehend the skills and expertise required to determine your company’s baseline, or set and achieve goals. We recommend working with a cybersecurity expert to determine your level of awareness and establish a long-term plan. Communication and understanding are key aspects of the best relationships, as well as your maximum-security protection. The importance of ongoing training and awareness cannot be stressed enough!

Outlining a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness program with ongoing training is a daunting task, but one that will keep you from being the next victim of a cybercriminal.

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