Security Awareness Training: What and Why?

Security Awareness Training

In the current digital era, one must emphasize the significance of security awareness training more, where information is both a valuable asset and a possible liability. Cyberattacks are becoming more complicated and frequent, putting individuals and organizations at risk of malicious assaults, data theft, and breaches. Every stakeholder, from workers to executives, is essential to the security of networks and sensitive data. This is why it is essential to know how to spot phishing efforts, adhere to security best practices, and spot potential cyberattack warning indicators.

Security awareness training is, therefore, an imperative in today’s technology-dependent world. Security awareness training can be defined as ensuring that people know and adhere to specific procedures that help maintain an organization’s security. Given the necessity of security in military applications, security awareness training has, in this sense, been around almost forever. However, security awareness training now emphasizes information security, particularly cybersecurity. Employees and other end users require regular specialized training on how to be safe online and secure personal information as well as that of their employers due to the rapid advancements in information technology and the simultaneous improvements made by cyber criminals.

In this blog, we will discuss security training awareness, why it is important, and cover top cybersecurity topics and how you can create and implement one in your organization.

What is Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness training is a strategy used by IT security experts to prevent and reduce user risk. The purpose of these programs is to educate users and staff members about their part in preventing breaches in information security. Good security awareness training enables staff members to recognize potential online and email-based cyberattacks, grasp appropriate cyber-hygiene, and assess the security risks connected with their actions.

In developing a security awareness training program, companies should stress to staff members the importance of safeguarding the company. They should also be given a summary of the relevant corporate policies and procedures, which address how to operate securely and who to notify if they come across a potential threat. No matter how long they have worked for the company, personnel of all levels should be included in the security awareness training. The program should also be customized to serve the unique needs of the organization.

Why is Security Awareness Training So Important?

Most organizations need more resources, knowledge, tools, or support to deal with cybercrimes. Research indicates that only one in nine businesses offer a cybersecurity training program for their employees. This can have a negative impact on your end users. 70% of consumers think most businesses slack on cybersecurity. If your customers do not trust your organization to keep their data safe, how can you expect to do well in business? The simple answer is — you cannot! This is why security training awareness programs are so important.

Here are some common benefits of security awareness training:

  1. Mitigating Human Error: Cybersecurity experts largely concur that people are usually the primary source of most accidents. Studies show that 70% of data breaches in 2023 involved a human element. Employees who unintentionally engage in risky behavior, such as clicking on phishing sites or giving sensitive information, are often the cause of security breaches. By giving staff members the information, abilities, and mindset needed to minimize human error, security awareness training can strengthen an organization’s defenses against security risks.
  1. Preventing Phishing Scams: Phishing attempts are the most common type of cyberattack currently prevalent in the IT industry. One out of three data breaches invariably involve phishing. Security awareness training may enable employees to spot phishing scams and questionable communications better. Employees who are aware of phishing attempts are less likely to fall for them, which lowers the risk of malware infections and data breaches.
  2. Reducing Financial Losses: It is a well-known fact that data breaches can cripple any organization financially. The average cost of a data breach in 2022 was just shy of $4.35 million — an all-time high! Security incidents can culminate in several outcomes, including legal costs, penalties, economic losses, and reputational harm. Employees who receive security awareness training learn how to safeguard the resources — financial, data, and assets — of their company. Organizations can limit their financial losses and uphold a more secure and resilient environment by decreasing the probability of security incidents and breaches.
  1. Maintaining Compliance Requirements: There are legal and regulatory obligations for data security and privacy in many different businesses and organizations. Organizations can maintain compliance by ensuring staff are aware of these standards through security awareness training. Keeping up with these global standards also helps with reputation management for the organization. As part of security awareness training programs, businesses need to adhere to these regulatory requirements, which display a commitment toward data security to customers, partners, and stakeholders.
  1. Cultivating a Long-Term Security Culture: Despite the abundance of hazards, companies can mitigate the impact of successful attacks or assist in preventing events by training their staff on how to recognize cybersecurity threats, avert prospective attacks, and react appropriately in the event of a cyber event. An organization’s security culture can be cultivated in part through training initiatives. Security awareness has a better chance of sticking around over time when it is included in an organization’s core principles and procedures.

Here are some important cybersecurity topics that must be covered under security awareness training.

What Cybersecurity Topics Must Be Covered Under Security Awareness Training?

The topics you would want to include in your security awareness training program majorly depend on who you are and what your business does. However, here are some common cybersecurity topics that should be covered in your cybersecurity program:

  1. Identity Theft: Effective cybersecurity training is essential for preventing identity theft. People require assistance from your program to identify warning indicators and reset their passwords.
  1. Passphrases and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): To increase security, people must be encouraged to use 2-factor authentication (2FA) or MFA and embrace passphrases.
  1. Public WiFi: People can learn everything there is to know about the dangers of using unprotected public WiFi, as well as how to use a VPN to be safe.
  1. Malware and Ransomware: People can learn about the many kinds of malicious software and how to spot infection symptoms.
  1. Social Engineering Initiatives: People should be confident in their ability to spot and steer clear of scams, whether they are phishing or SMShing. When executed skillfully, a simulated phishing attack has the power to change people’s perceptions of danger.
  1. Safe Browsing Practices: People should be encouraged to use secure browsing techniques and steer clear of tracking and form auto-filling. You can break it down by using step-by-step instructions for configuring your browser.
  1. Device Safety Practices: Security training can assist individuals in turning their gadgets into impenetrable fortresses. People require help when it comes to setting up firewalls, antivirus programs, and automatic updates.
  1. Breach Resolution Techniques: People need to know how to frequently back up their data and be guided on how to contain the harm and recover from data breaches.
  1. GDPR and Data Privacy: People frequently have jobs that require them to handle data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation. This implies they have particular duties, which must all be covered in your training program.  

How To Create and Implement a Security Awareness Training Program in Your Organization?

Creating a security awareness training program for your organization can feel daunting in the beginning. However, it can drastically improve your security posture and is well worth all the trouble. To simplify the process, here are the steps to create and implement a robust cybersecurity training program for your business:  

Step 1: To garner support and comprehend the most important threats that the proposed program should address, the chief information security officer (CISO) and the organization’s cybersecurity team should take the lead in developing a cybersecurity awareness training program. They should also seek the assistance of other executives. The CISO and other C-suite colleagues should design an overarching cybersecurity plan for the organization that takes these risks into account.

Step 2: The human resources (HR) division, which usually oversees workplace training and development, should collaborate with the CISO to make sure the company has a well-designed and efficient program.

Step 3: Since the cybersecurity and compliance requirements of every business are different among verticals, program developers should take into account the unique threats that their organization and industry face when creating a training curriculum.

Step 4: Starting with basic instruction and progressing to more complex subjects, the security awareness training program should be extensive. To help organizations determine a worker’s level of cybersecurity awareness and, therefore, design a learning pathway for them, it should also incorporate an evaluation procedure.

Step 5: When designing the training program, organizational leaders must keep in mind that different functions within the organization are subject to varying risks and hazards. In comparison to a high-level executive who works with the organization’s proprietary information and financial systems or a senior IT employee who is authorized to work on the core technologies that enable the business, an entry-level employee with limited access to sensitive data and core IT systems is likely to encounter fewer risky scenarios.

Step 6: Bigger companies with sizable HR departments can create and implement their awareness training program or, at the very least, add to it with outside assistance. Nonetheless, many businesses decide to outsource all or most of the training because they believe this is the most practical and efficient approach to providing the required training for their staff.

Security and Compliance Readiness with Akitra!

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and services help our customers become compliance-ready for security standards like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FedRAMP, CCPA, CMMC, SOX ITGC, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, Australian ISM and Essential Eight etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product for overall risk management using quantitative methodologies such as Factorial Analysis of Information Risks (FAIR) and qualitative methods, including NIST-based for your company, Vulnerability Assessment and Pen Testing services, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes, delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently. Akitra Academy provides easy to learn short video courses on security, compliance and related topics of immense significance for today’s fast growing companies.

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

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