Data breaches are becoming more and more prevalent. Organizations are trying to keep up as best they can with the influx in breaches, but the average time it takes for them to identify one is 191 days. With the global average cost of a single data breach hitting a staggering $3.86 million this year (a 6.4% increase from last year), mitigating cybersecurity risks is becoming more of a priority every day.
Seeing as your employees are your first line of defense against cyber threats, it makes sense to invest in them while you also invest in building up your network security. Taking this proactive approach to mitigate the risk of cyber threats takes educating your employees on the benefits of cybersecurity awareness training. Let’s take an in-depth look at how cybersecurity education programs can help teams become more aware of these threats and act quickly to alleviate threats in the case of a crisis.
With cyber-crime steadily on the rise and businesses turning to technology to do more of the heavy lifting, the human element has been consistently put on the backburner. But after recent reports that document the growing trend of employees being the main risk factor in cyber-attacks, businesses have followed suit by making cybersecurity a priority for employee involvement.
Although efforts to combat these cyber-crimes have increased as of late, the understanding stems from an extremely short pool of high ranking executives. This can pose a problem when cybersecurity directives are only known and implemented for an entire organization by a small subset of staff members.
Over time, this cyber security educational disconnect between the haves and have nots (C-suite to employees) can lead to confusion and gaps in the network defense. Therefore, it is pertinent for the company leaders to adequately communicate cybersecurity protocols and their value to the organization. These introductory educational teachings can effectively lay a solid foundation for employees to drive their understanding of how to identify and address different types of cyber threats that can instantly devastate an organization.
Let’s look at some of the more common types of cyber attacks starting with the table below:
|Types of Cyber Attacks|
|1||Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks|
|3||SQL Injection attack|
|4||Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack|
1. Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
DoS cyber-attacks aim to overwhelm the entire network’s resources to the point where it is impossible for it to respond to service requests. DDoS attacks is more intense than a DoS attack since the attack is done via a variety of host machines, thus making it nearly impossible for cybersecurity teams to pinpoint the source of the attack and kill the malicious software. Most attackers that opt for these types of attacks are merely looking for the satisfaction that they could shut down a business from operating for a certain amount of time. Other times, the attackers are launching the attack to ensure that a secondary attack can be launched in the same network disguised amongst the massive amounts of traffic.
2. Phishing attack
This type of attack combines social engineering and dirty tricks to fool the individual into thinking that an email is being sent from a trusted source when, in fact, it is not. This is called “email spoofing.” These attacks use a clickable URL embedded in an email that, when clicked, loads malware onto a computer that steals personal information and/or influence the user to transfer money in exchange for their personal information. Spotting a phishing attack calls for the individual in receipt of the email to check the “From” section before clicking on anything in an email. If the address that the email was sent from isn’t valid, the user should do nothing and immediately notify their IT team to investigate the source of the attack.
3. SQL injection attack
Many e-commerce websites are driven via a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that exists on the backend as a database that is executed via SQL queries. An SQL injection attack calls for the attacker to gain access to the backend to run predefined SQL commands that allow them to modify the database and execute administrative orders as they see fit. These types of attacks are usually undertaken outside of business hours, but since many organizations require secondary manual authorization to continue with a function outside the norm, administrative employees are usually tasked with authenticating the SQL query.
4. Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack
Whereas SQL injection attacks deal with backend database queries, XSS attacks feed off third-part web resources to run their scripts within an organization’s browser. Once the malicious script is injected in the victim’s browser, the attacker can hijack the webpage to steal cookies that can be used to control the organization’s entire website.
5. Malware attack
Many people have heard of malware attacks, but many have ever seen one up close and personal. According to research, one out of every 131 emails contains malware. Ransomware is one type of malware that cascaded across the world last year, riding on the coat tails of the Bitcoin craze that topped out in December 2017. Attackers would install malicious software in a company’s network that would replicate their sensitive data across the internet if the company did not comply with the attacker’s demands. Before and during 2017, many of these attacker demands were focused on companies paying their ransoms in Bitcoins, which up until the end of 2017 were selling for upwards of $20,000 per Bitcoin.
Cyber Security Education
The first thing for your organization to identify in your quest to become more cyber aware is where gaps in your employee’s understanding of cybersecurity topics lies. This can be accomplished via an audit of behaviors in response to a simulated cyber-attack. These types of simulations can keep employees on high alert until they realize that what they clicked on was a test. This can be used as a teaching tool to help those who make the errors understand the detrimental effects that such an attack could have on the organization if it were indeed real.
An audit of this magnitude can help you identify a baseline assessment to determine the current state of cybersecurity posture within the organization. After identifying the gaps in your employee’s understanding of cybersecurity policies and procedures, you can begin to formulate a comprehensive training program that helps to alleviate pain points. Once a firm understanding of cybersecurity is instilled in your employees, they can identify cyber-attacks and take the appropriate action even when under duress.
When creating cybersecurity training content, make sure that you consider your audience and tailor the content to their skillset(s) appropriately. Everyone has a different understanding of technology. For all you might know, the employee that manages your company’s databases is less adept at spotting and combating cyber-attacks than the individual who works in your warehouse. Focus on allowing employees to accumulate an intermediate to advanced understanding of cybersecurity and you’ll effectively make it exponentially more difficult for an attacker to steal from you.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Sufficient cybersecurity awareness training allows employees to minimize their human error mistakes while also helping catch hackers in the act. This type of training is crucial for enabling company employees to collaborate with the mission to create a sustainable successful security posture for the entire organization. Equipping your team with cybersecurity awareness skills can also produce many byproducts above and beyond the purely educational aspect.
For one, your staff can become more confident whenever they utilize any technology within the organization. You might find that they are adept at working more autonomously with tech tools after training, opting to troubleshoot technical problems on their own instead of calling IT to tackle it. This can help to take the heat off your IT team to handle every tech-related request and rather focus on projects that lead to long term growth and protection of the business.
Another byproduct of cybersecurity awareness training is the positive effect that it has on the workplace culture. Once employees all understand that cybersecurity is a priority and that they are all accountable for adhering to company policies and best practices, it will create a newfound comradery between employees. Employees who have the tools to do their jobs better and understand that what they do is important for keeping the organization safe feel incredibly empowered by the knowledge that they have accrued.
Employees who feel more confident in taking ownership of their new role in the organization and can provide assistance to the company’s overall protection will inherently feel more satisfaction in the workplace which can lead to higher retention rates company-wide. With higher retention rates comes less of a need to spend money on hiring new employees due to high turnover. Also, since data breaches are quite expensive (as was alluded to earlier in this article), lowering your organization’s risk for a data breach by instilling cybersecurity awareness in your staff can secure your business from being stuck with the bill for a breach.
Even though cybersecurity awareness efforts take time and effort to implement and design, it’s much better than spending your time trying to fix it and recover data that has been lost and/or stolen during a data breach. Ensuring that your employees are constantly vigilant in their identification and remediation of cyber threats allows you to decrease your chances of having to face a data breach at all. This saves you time on dealing with everything from the legal battles to the mountains of paperwork that stem from the data breach itself.
The benefits of instilling a cybersecurity education on your employees can be truly widespread if it is conceptualized and implemented in a way that the information covered can be easily digested and retained. The key when building out your organizations cybersecurity education program is to focus on motivating your staff to take information security (InfoSec) seriously and respond accordingly to maintain their privacy. Although it may be a challenge to design an effective plan in the beginning, once you provide proper training, your employees will be more prepared and ready to take on issues in the future. Here are a few strategies to help your staff stay current with new technologies and understand different types of threats and attacks without feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of information:
- Use visual aids – Since many people are visual learners, they prefer pictures and/or videos supplement their cybersecurity education training. This can help to engage employees in the content and help to get your point across quicker and more effectively.
- Keep it fun – Gamification is a great strategy to create a fun atmosphere for education that can help employees learn the critical elements of the training sessions. One way to keep things fun and motivating is to use rewards that keep users motivated and incentivized to continue learning.
- Never stop learning – Since cyber threats and the technology that allows them to exist are constantly evolving, it’s essential that you constantly update and repeat your awareness training sessions as you update your security policies. This allows your organization to keep everybody involved and current with new technologies while also understanding the common types of threats or attacks that could potentially affect your organization. Following your staff’s completion of a cybersecurity training course, you can offer them new courses as new updates are available to ensure there isn’t a lull in their understanding of cybersecurity best practices.
When you think of cybersecurity education as an investment for your business rather than just an added cost, you’re sure to see the added benefit of implementing this type of program in the future. Holding these types of awareness sessions to educate your work staff can help employees learn to use technology properly, thereby ensuring platform security is not affecting and that your network is constantly being defending against a wide range of cyber threats. The positive byproducts of the development of a comprehensive cybersecurity education program are widespread and well known but also unique to every company based on how they instill the learnings of their program in their company’s culture.
For more information on cybersecurity solutions, give our professionals at RSI Security a call today.