One of the most common causes of cyber breaches within an organization is human error, and in a study conducted by Stanford University, researchers estimate the total to be around 88%. Employers can work to combat this by providing consistent and current cybersecurity awareness training to their employees. If your employees are aware of the risks and warning signs of malware danger, they are more likely to be careful and attentive to their actions in the online world, and in turn, they actually help to prevent things like ransomware from entering your network. We asked Connor Swalm, CEO of Phin Security, to answer a few questions on the topic for us. Phin Security is a local Delaware company that works to make cybersecurity awareness training accessible and easy to use for SMBs.
Swalm believes these types of programs are essential for all SMBs. “We live in a world where, by no fault of their own, anyone can be a victim of cybercrime. Technology is becoming deeply integrated into society and the world is more connected than ever before. These facts expose everyone to potential threats that were previously unknown.” As ransomware is becoming an increasingly more common threat for everyone, not just large corporations, SMBs and individuals must learn how to prevent attacks to avoid a large-scale breach with more devastating consequences. Swalm elaborates, “Teaching people to recognize the world around them and to be aware when something is wrong is paramount to staying secure; both as a business and as an individual.” Awareness is key in a digital world, and now is as good a time as ever to sharpen your skills.
The general outline of a good cybersecurity awareness training program includes education on recognizing the signs and symptoms of malware or other bad actor tactics, as well as education on the processes in place for what happens after an attack. “The most important part of cybersecurity awareness training is changing your behavior.” Swalm states, “It is your company’s job to educate you, ensure you are aware of threats, teach correct behavior, and to test your knowledge effectively. It is up to you to understand your training, reach out when something is unclear, and to change your behavior when it is needed.” Behavior change is a process within itself, but increasing your awareness of threats in online and connected spaces starts small. It can be as simple as making sure you double check a link or the actual sender information on an email before clicking on anything.
Making prevention tactics like awareness training a staple in your business can save you time and money in the long run. When your employees are trained to spot phishing tactics and other signs of attempted maliciousness, your SMB can eliminate threats before they reach your network. However, it can still be a difficult task to implement the program at the start. Often, the largest obstacles are buy-in from the CEO and leadership, and buy-in from employees. If your company’s management is not on board with the program, the effectiveness of it will be lost on your business. Leadership within the company should be the ones to drive change and showcase how improving your cybersecurity posture is something to be valued within an organization. “For an awareness program to truly be effective, every employee needs to understand the importance of cyber-secure behavior and they also need to see the emphasis their leadership places on participating in the program itself,” states Swalm. “When leadership places an importance on understanding cybersecurity, completing the testing and training, and recognizing behavioral patterns that should change, training completion rates skyrocket, susceptibility to social engineering decreases, and recognizing and reporting incidents occurs more frequently.”
It’s never too late to implement cybersecurity awareness training, and the benefits of these programs vastly outweigh any drawbacks. You can always start small and continue to build your program as employees become more comfortable with the content and skills they learn. Partnering with an outside company to assist with the setup and implementation allows you to focus on the largest piece of the puzzle – getting leadership on board. Once you have that, cybersecurity awareness and cybersecurity prevention measures will become a breeze.