But even the most comprehensive cybersecurity strategy isn’t guaranteed to protect you from 100% of threats.
As a business owner, the security of your propriety information may be something that keeps you up at night and for a good reason. The cost of recovering from an attack is significant.
One way to ease your worries about security is to address your first line of defense: your employees.
Here at The KR Group, user security education is something we offer to our managed services customers or any business who wants to improve their overall security posture.
With a workforce armed with knowledge on how to stay vigilant for possible threats, you add another layer of protection and address the security gap posed by users by catching it before your security solutions have to.
How does employee training protect your IT environment?
Training your users helps keep cybersecurity threats out of your network in three ways:
- It addresses your biggest vulnerability
- Training complements your existing security solutions
- It is a proactive approach to cybersecurity
When you combine these three benefits of user education, it clearly becomes a vital component of your cybersecurity strategy.
Users are a company’s biggest vulnerability
According to research from Proofpoint, a security solutions provider, more than 99% of cyberattacks require human interaction to execute. This makes your users the last line of defense between an attack and your network.
Other forms of endpoint protection are necessary and will certainly always have a function. For example, ideally, an anti-spam filter catches a phishing email and it doesn’t end up in your users’ inbox. If it does, it will require your user to take some action, such as download a file or enter sensitive information.
However, if your users don’t know how to properly identify threats, such as phishing or unsecured websites, then an attack is bound to happen.
User training is frequently overlooked when it comes to risk reduction, but it’s an important component of strengthening your security posture.
No security solution is perfect
As we mentioned earlier, breaches can and do sneak past security measures. You and your users can’t rely solely on these solutions to protect you.
Attackers are continually fine-tuning their attacks. If you’re relying on traditional antivirus, which is based on a set of known threats, this solution may not pick up a new threat.
(As a side note, next-gen antivirus incorporates machine learning to do better at picking up new threats, but even it isn’t perfect.)
If the new threat is from a phishing email and your users know how to properly identify it, then they’ll be able to prevent it from entering your network.
Endpoint protection solutions are getting better at identifying threats, but humans still have an edge over technology in some ways.
By combining security software (your antivirus, anti-spam, DNS filtration, etc.) with informed users who are on the lookout for threats, you have the best chance of avoiding an attack.
User training is a proactive approach to security
Training your users is a proactive approach to cybersecurity.
If one of your users does unknowingly introduce a threat to your environment, you should have security solutions in place to stop the threat before it does too much damage. However, that means you’re waiting for a threat to emerge to take action, and we already talked about how no security solution is perfect.
Trained users, while still not perfect, can significantly reduce the number of threats that make their way to your network in the first place.
By knowing security protocols such as how to identify a phishing email, how to safely use public Wifi, and how to help prevent ransomware attacks, your users are contributing to your cybersecurity strategy.
What does employee cybersecurity training look like?
So how do you get your users to become part of your security measures instead of exposing your network?
User security education training takes place in a group class for new and existing customers.
The training starts with an overview of today’s threat landscape. Not all of your employees will inherently know what risks exist and what role they could play in exposing your network.
The goal of this portion is to orient your users on how important cybersecurity is to your business.
From there, the training will dive into the specifics of more specifically some common security issues, including:
This type of malware encrypts your data. The attacker demands a ransom in exchange for hijacked data.
The magnitude and cost of ransomware vary depending on the attack, and worst-case scenario, it can cost thousands of dollars.
If your users aren’t aware of the risk of downloading files from a source other than the vendor, they could accidentally welcome ransomware onto your network.
2. Phishing attacks
In a phishing campaign, an attacker uses a spoofed email address to try and lure users into downloading a file or entering login credentials. The attacker’s goal is to gain some form of access to your network.
Anti-spam filters catch some phishing emails, but not all. It’s important for your users to learn how to identify them to keep your network safe.
3. Public Wifi
When working in your office, your users are protected by the security mechanisms you have in place guarding your network.
Most of those protections don’t extend beyond the range of your Wifi, though.
If your users work remotely and connect to public Wifi, they shouldn’t assume that business has the same security. In fact, public Wifi security often lacks proper security protections.
Common types of threats that exist on public wifi include:
- Man-in-the-middle attacks which eavesdrop on your employees’ traffic
- Unencrypted networks, which means anyone can read data they intercept
- Snooping and sniffing, which allows attackers to access your online activity including login credentials
By the end of the training, your employees should have a grasp on what these dangers are and how it can affect your network as well as how to prevent them.
Why should you invest in user security training?
Even with multiple layers of protective measures in place, you still heavily rely on your users to keep threats out of your network.
Users are most companies’ biggest vulnerability, but they’re also your last line of defense.
No perfect security software exists. By training your users about existing security threats and how to identify and avoid them, you can take a proactive approach to protect your IT environment.
If you decide to skip this step in your cybersecurity strategy, the consequences are significant. An attack can impact your network by causing downtime, hijacking data, and stealing confidential information.
For more information about our security awareness training, download our free infographic.