What is Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

Cybersecurity awareness training programs have been around for many years. Over the last couple of years these programs have gained traction. With remote or hybrid work it was more difficult for organizations to control their IT environments and made it critically important for organizations to train their employees on cybersecurity.  

In today’s article, we will define what cybersecurity awareness training programs are, how they work, why they are important for employees and some best practices to implement such programs. 

Cybersecurity awareness training defined 

Cybersecurity awareness training programs are designed to help an organization’s employees understand cyber hygiene, the cybersecurity risks of their actions and to help them identify cyber attacks via email, the web and other means used by cybercriminals. 

How they work 

The programs usually include two main areas: Training/Education and Phishing Campaigns  

Training/Education 

The programs generally have training platforms with short educational and engaging videos and materials. The videos are separated into different cybersecurity topics. Employees are usually assigned the trainings in small increments so that they are not overwhelmed and to increase absorption of the individual topics. Each topic is usually followed by a short test to ensure that the topic has been understood.  

Phishing Campaigns 

Campaigns using phishing realistic email templates or actual phishing emails that have had the malicious links deactivated, are sent to employees. Normally, the email phishing campaigns are staggered so that employees receive the email at differing times. The goal is to determine if certain employees need additional training or tips to minimize the risks of someone clicking on a real phishing email.  

The topics addressed in the training and phishing campaigns typically include: 

  • Teaching employees how to recognize and deal with potential phishing emails 
  • Password hygiene which includes instructions on creating strong passwords and avoiding passwords with personal information in them  
  • Privacy and the protection of sensitive customer, partner, employee, and company data 
  • How to recognize threats that may be coming from inside the organization commonly referred to as insider threats 
  • Wire or CEO fraud which uses the impersonation of an executive, such as a CEO, of an organization to defraud the company. 
  • Data protection 
  • Office hygiene which refers to how to protect paper, desks, screens, and buildings 

It should be noted that as things change or evolve in the cybersecurity space, the training also changes to include the latest threats and iterations. 

Best practices 

Here are some of the best practices for an effective cybersecurity awareness program 

  1. Having a training platform that allows for training to be scheduled, tracked, and reported on is important to determine the success of the program. It also helps with the accessibility of the training. Employees should have access to the training so they can refer to it as needed.  
  2. The training videos and materials need to be short and engaging. If it is too long, employees will lose interest. Making it engaging will help employees remember the material. 
  3. The training needs to be persistent and delivered in small increments so that it can easily fit within the employees’ schedules. 
  4. The cadence with which the training is delivered varies based on the organization but as we stated above it needs to be persistent whether that is monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. It cannot be a one-time thing.  
  5. The organization’s approach to cybersecurity awareness training and testing should not be fear based. Rather providing their employees with the tools they need to become the best line of defence against cybercriminals and reducing cyber risk. 

Why is cybersecurity awareness training important? 

Human error is involved in more than 85% of security breaches. Cybersecurity awareness training programs help employees understand the threats. The result is that the risk of an organization becoming a victim of a cyber incident is reduced. There is no magic bullet or guarantees when it comes to cybersecurity but ensuring that employees are well educated and knowledgeable about cybersecurity is a critical part of a strong cybersecurity strategy.  

The goal is to have each of your employees become a Human Firewall, protecting your business. 

MicroAge can help your organization implement a cybersecurity awareness training program that is a good fit for you and your employees. Contact us to see how we can help. 

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With a growing Network of independently owned locations (currently at 41) from coast-to-coast, MicroAge is Canada’s leading IT solutions and service provider focused mainly on small and midmarket businesses.

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