Cyberattacks are a top concern for companies of all sizes, prompting many organizations to further invest in their cybersecurity. Globally, spending on cybersecurity hardware, software, and services will top $219 billion this year, up 12% from 2022, and will soar to $300 billion by 2026, according to IDC Data & Analytics. However in safeguarding their systems and data, entities often underestimate the importance of cybersecurity education and training for their employees and other users.
The Importance of Cybersecurity Education
Cyber attacks are increasingly ubiquitous and costly. According to Fortinet's 2023 global research report, 84% of organizations experienced one or more breaches in the prior 12 months, up from 80% in 2021. In North America, 64% of organizations reported that the total cost to remediate a breach topped $1 million, according to Fortinet. As cyber criminals know that humans are often the weakest link in a company’s cybersecurity efforts, many direct their attacks on its users. Last year, 81% of organizations faced malware, phishing, and password attacks, which mainly targeted their users, according to Fortinet. This grim reality underscores the important role that employees and other users play in an entity’s cybersecurity defense.
Cybersecurity Education and Training
In today’s digital environment, every company needs to implement and enforce a multi-faceted cybersecurity policy, of which employee education is a vital component. Employees need to be taught about the policy, how to follow it, and the importance of adhering to it. Every employee must be educated about common threats, as well as less common and emerging scams. They must be taught how to recognize these threats and how to appropriately respond to and report them. Training cannot be a one-and-done proposition; it needs to be given periodically as a refresher and to provide updated information as the threat landscape evolves.
Teaching Employees to Avoid Unsafe Practices
All team members must be educated to avoid unsafe computing practices. Email is a major area of concern. According to Verizon’s DBIR 2022 Report, 75% of malware enters an organization through email. Employees must learn to recognize the signs of phishing emails, which can include strange email domains, impersonations of company personnel, and misspellings. Often, phishing emails will come from addresses that either contain familiar names or are very similar to a familiar name, to trick users into believing that the email is from an individual or company they know. Team members should be taught not to open suspicious emails and to never click links or attachments from a source that is unsafe. Rather than clicking on links, users should be taught to hover over them, which will allow them to see the destination URL and vet it before clicking through.
Companies should also enforce a strong password policy with multi-factor authentication as an important line of defense. Employees must be educated on what makes a password strong as well as the dangers of using weak passwords or using the same or similar passwords across multiple accounts.
Employees also need to be taught and reminded to avoid insecure websites. The URLs of secure websites contain a lock icon and start with “https,” rather than just “http”; the former indicates the site is protected by encryption, which prevents data from being intercepted by third parties.
It also needs to be ingrained in employees that your cybersecurity policy and best practices must be followed wherever they are working. Organizations with hybrid and remote workplaces have incremental security challenges, which they must address in their security policy. Employees should be educated about the risks of using public Wi-Fi networks, which can be accessed by anyone. They should also be instructed to work only on company-issued or approved devices and to be cautious about sharing their screen with others. Your company policy should outline particular responses for potential threats, such as instructing employees to report suspicious emails to the IT department immediately.
As with other training programs, cybersecurity training should include initial evaluations and periodic follow-up testing to gauge how well employees absorbed the information and whether they are retaining it over time. Testing should include simulated threats, such as phony phishing emails featuring clues that were covered during training. Those who click on the phony link should be required to take a refresher training session. In addition to training and testing, organizations need multi-faceted cybersecurity features. Whether you manage security in-house or partner with a trusted provider, ensure that your firm takes a comprehensive approach to safeguarding your data.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of Managed IT Services and Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Cybersecurity is built into all of our solutions to ensure our clients’ IT and data is always available and secure. To learn more about how our state-of-the-art IT solutions can make your firm’s operations more efficient and secure, contact us.