Building a robust cybersecurity infrastructure is about more than installing required controls and safeguards. You also need to ensure that your staff actively contributes to the company’s safety, rather than being a passive victim of cybercrime. The key to that is practical IT security user awareness training.
Read on to learn about how security awareness training support can help your company keep your staff and all stakeholders safe.
Why You Need IT Security User Awareness Training
Your company’s IT infrastructure comprises more than your physical and digital assets (i.e., your computers and the software installed on them). Equally critical are the device users and employees who need training. This guide will break down all you need to know about why and how:
- Definitions and use cases for IT security user awareness training best practices
- Top threats and vulnerabilities related to inadequate security awareness training
- How to integrate security awareness training into broader security infrastructure
By the time we’re through, you’ll know exactly why your company needs an IT security awareness program, what it should comprise, and how to tailor available solutions to your unique needs.
IT Security Awareness Programs and Best Practices
Every company needs to invest in cybersecurity training to ensure proper use and sensibility across its staff. But what many companies don’t realize is that this commitment needs to be continuous, not static. Training employees in one session at hiring or across annual workshops is likely not enough to keep all stakeholders safe. You need a routine of required workshops accompanied by assessments and exercises to demonstrate knowledge.
Furthermore, to cultivate a cybersecurity-focused culture and active commitment to security, you can encourage staff to seek out additional guidance and resources with optional training. These can come with incentives, such as break extensions, stipends, or meals. The security you’ll receive in return is well worth it.
Critically, a robust IT security awareness program should cover a wide range of subjects.
Security Awareness Training Curriculum Requirements
The topics covered in your IT security training program should begin with essential cybersecurity awareness, such as identifying potential viruses and how to avoid suspicious links. But it should also include lessons tailored to your company’s specific risk environment based on attacks on similar companies. RSI Security’s suite of security awareness services includes:
- Training Access Level I, II, and III for basic theoretical concepts and practical skills
- Threat-specific modules on phishing, vishing, smishing, and other prevalent attacks
- Real-time exercises and assessments involving physical media (USB sticks, etc.)
We offer dynamic programs in the last category: activity-based workshops that test reaction times, critical thinking, and crisis aversion skills for stakeholders at all levels.
Case Study: Incident Response Tabletop Exercise
To highlight RSI Security’s overall awareness training programs, our Incident Response Tabletop Exercise provides an opportunity for staff at all levels to learn technical aspects of incident response and put them to use in a low-stakes environment absent any real threats. Depending on your company, our team can simulate one or more attacks at any level of severity or complexity to help your staff learn what to do during an actual attack.
This is closely related to the practice of penetration testing, but there are differences in the amount of control you exercise over the game-like scenario. Rather than watching an “ethical hacker” ransack your systems, only to recover afterward, your team participates in stopping the attack before it gets too severe. This facilitates preparedness, decision making, and resource allocation for a real attack while heightening awareness to make a cyber-attack less likely.
Threats IT Security User Awareness Training Prevents
Arguably the most significant reason your company (like all companies) needs cybersecurity awareness training is that, without it, it doesn’t matter how robust your other defenses are. One wrong click from an untrained staff member, and all of your sensitive information may be compromised. The most common and dangerous threats awareness training can prevent fall into two categories:
- External threats from hackers and cybercriminals looking to exploit unwitting personnel
- Internal threats stemming from common user errors, misuses, and misunderstandings
Let’s take a closer look at each category, how it can lead to harm, and how IT security user awareness training can prevent the problems and facilitate response and recovery.
External Threats Exploiting Inadequately Trained Staff
Many attacks used to manipulate individuals into compromising your company’s security fall under the “social engineering” category. These confidence tricks exploit trust to make an otherwise good-willing employee unwittingly give cybercriminals access to sensitive data. Four of the most common forms of social engineering that target poorly trained or unaware staff include:
- General phishing – Mass emails that disguise the sender’s identity as an institution or individual that’s trustworthy to request login credentials or other sensitive information.
- Targeted phishing – Smaller batch emails spoofing one particular individual (often a supervisor) to target specific staff members. “Whaling” targets high-stakes accounts.
- Water holing – Spoofing of a website commonly used and thus trusted by staff members. Often, the scam site prompts an extra (false) login to steal credentials.
- Baiting or tailgating – Physical scams that count on staff members using an infected piece of media (USB stick) or involve the hacker following staff into a building.
These are not the only ways hackers can use your employees’ ignorance to victimize your company. To prevent all attacks, you need rigorous and continuous training for all staff.
Most Common Internal Errors and Miscommunications
Aside from malicious actors outside the company, malpractice from within is also likely in the absence of adequate training. Falling prey to a phishing scam might be considered an error, but there are also countless other mistakes a staff member can make that directly leak data or open risks for crimes.
Some of the most common user errors fall under the identity management category. Without training on what makes a password complex enough to avoid guessing, users open themselves to inappropriate access to their accounts. Other things that may seem like common sense, such as avoiding questionable links and websites, cannot be taken for granted. All employees need to be instructed on what constitutes safe use and what’s forbidden.
Integrating Training into Security Infrastructure
Ultimately, the most critical consideration when crafting your IT security use training is how well it integrates all security elements. In turn, this dictates how well it integrates into your broader cybersecurity infrastructure. There’s no question whether you need the training to foster user IT awareness; the more challenging question is how it should look and work at your company. Working with a managed security services provider is the best and easiest way to tailor your training to your company’s needs and means, including those that pertain to legal requirements.
Awareness Training for Regulatory Compliance
One last reason you may need IT security awareness training is regulatory compliance. Companies in specific industries need to follow legal and industry requirements. Many of these compliance frameworks also specify requirements for security awareness training. For example:
- Companies in the healthcare industry need to follow HIPAA requirements for employee training, specified both in the Privacy Rule and as a safeguard of the Security Rule.
- Companies that process credit card payments need to follow the training protocols of Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), specifically requirement 3.2.
To implement these and other security requirements into your training regimen, partnering with an MSSP like RSI Security can offer optimal efficiency and ROI — not to mention robust cyberdefense.
Professional Security Awareness Training Support
Given cybersecurity IT awareness training’s wide-ranging utility across the use cases and integration tactics detailed above, it should be clear that all institutions need an IT security training program. In particular, you need the training to prevent common attack vectors such as phishing and harmful user errors.
Moreover, this training is not the end of cybersecurity; it’s one element of a comprehensive, secure system. To learn more about how security awareness training support can help your company, contact RSI Security today!