Cybersecurity awareness training class

How to Educate Employees in Cybersecurity

What is a small business’s greatest cybersecurity vulnerability? 

Its employees. 

Why is that? It’s because of human error – unintentional actions, or lack of action, that cause a breach, ransomware, or other form of damage.  

Every year, IBM conducts an industry-leading data breach study. This study showed that human error caused 95% of all cybersecurity breaches in the last year. 

95% is an astounding percentage of data breaches! 

How do we fix human error in cybersecurity?  

The root cause of human error within cybersecurity is the lack of cyber literacy.  

Cyber literacy is the ability to use computer technologies effectively. While using technology, a cyber-literate person understands the implications of their actions. 

Low cyber literacy means an increased chance of human error. 

The most common example is an employee who accidentally downloads a malicious file by clicking on a phishing link. The file releases malware into the internal network, granting hackers access to confidential company documents.  

Human errors within cybersecurity happen because users don’t know the best course of action. Luckily, there is a way to improve cyber literacy and reduce human error. 

Cybersecurity awareness training is the answer.  

Today, we’re going to show you how to better educate your employees by implementing cybersecurity awareness training. Let’s get started.  

What is cybersecurity awareness training? 

Cybersecurity awareness training teaches employees how to defend company data from cybercriminals. Security experts are the best candidates for leading these training sessions. The sessions can come in many forms, like in-person lectures, webinars, or online videos. 

For a cybersecurity awareness training program to be effective, it must teach employees the following: 

  • How to recognize a security threat.
  • How to abide by corporate policies.
  • How to follow security procedures and protocols. 

 However, you don’t want to think one-size-fits-all when it comes to cybersecurity awareness training.  Every business is different, and how that business wants to handle a cyber incident will be different. Therefore, you want your organization’s awareness training to align with your business’s goals, values, and personnel.  

Establishing a solid cybersecurity training program can be complex, especially for small businesses. 

To help you get to the right path, here are our 5 Do’s and Don’ts for cybersecurity awareness training. 

5 Do’s for cybersecurity awareness training  

Ensure your material is relevant.  

Technology is constantly changing and so are cyber threats. Cybersecurity awareness training will only work if it covers relevant material and avoids overusing technical terms. The more relevant the material, the more likely it resonates with your employees.  

For example, an employee doesn’t need to know the mechanics behind a phishing attack. Instead, they need to know how to identify one.  

Break down material. 

You don’t want to teach everything your employees need to know all at once. Instead, it is best to tackle one topic at a time. Breaking the material down into bite-sized chunks will help with overall knowledge retention. CompassMSP’s Compass Security Suite provides an employee cyber-awareness training tool called KnowBe4 that provides short lessons once a month. There are other similar tools on the market as well.   

Offer practical advice. 

Your cybersecurity awareness training should give employees actionable steps. Going back to that phishing email, once the employee successfully spots that malicious email, they should know what to do next.  

A side note, a phishing simulation is a powerful tool to test training. Our KnowBe4 tool, also provides a monthly phishing simulation. 

Create a security culture. 

One of the great benefits of cybersecurity awareness training is that it puts security at the forefront of employees’ minds. And for the training to work, it must be a part of your company’s security culture. 

A good security culture encourages employees to talk about cybersecurity regularly. Employees are then encouraged to ring up security concerns and ask questions. Everyone understands that they play a role in actively protecting company data.  

Partner with a knowledgeable technology team. 

It is a brilliant idea for small and medium-sized businesses to partner with a technology provider that focuses on cybersecurity. The role of this provider is to ensure that a client’s employees and systems are safe, secure, and compliant. 

5 Don’ts for cybersecurity awareness training 

Don’t be haphazard with training.  

To keep employees fresh on best practices, host your sessions regularly. At CompassMSP, we recommend you host a training session every quarter at a minimum.  

Don’t use stale content. 

Text-based content can become very tiresome for a learner. And nobody learns when they are bored. You want your training program to engage the learner. One of the best ways to do this is by using video and interactive content. But keep in mind, the videos should be high-quality and enjoyable to watch. A dull instructor standing in front of a PowerPoint does NOT make a good video.  

Also, keep in mind, many people learn by doing. Interactive content can help keep the learner focused and engaged throughout a course. 

Don’t forget to track progress. 

While nobody likes pop-quizzes, testing employees on what they learned is essential. Tests help motivate employees to stay focused on the course.  

And as a business owner, you can use tests to help gauge if the training is sticking with your employees. 

Don’t forget to include your remote employees. 

Staff working from home are outside the direct oversight of IT support teams and often struggle with cyber threats. So, make sure your remote employees receive annual cybersecurity awareness training. You may want to dedicate an additional course just to remote work. 

Don’t let unqualified people run your training program. 

Lastly, make sure your training program instructor is qualified to teach your staff. For instance, HR is NOT suitable to teach cybersecurity best practices, but they can help organize the training. 

I should also mention, your IT staff or managed IT service provider may also not be qualified to instruct your team on these matters. Make sure your IT service provider has on-staff cybersecurity experts and trainers or uses a strong cyber awareness training program like KnowBe4. Luckily CompassMSP has all three! 

Get started today. 

An essential part of cybersecurity is educating employees to make intelligent decisions. Your staff can be your greatest vulnerability or one of your best safeguards. 

If you’re not sure how to implement this type of training, CompassMSP is here to help.  

Under our security services, we help train employees on security best practices. To learn more about our services, please follow this link.  

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