According to IBM, a shocking 95% of all cybersecurity breaches occur because of human error. Human error is, essentially, someone clicking on something they shouldn’t have. Attackers capitalize on the prevalence of human error to infiltrate a company’s network in order to steal sensitive data and information, deploy debilitating malware, hold companies to ransom, or overtake accounts to spread further damage.
Human error commonly occurs as a result of email-based phishing scams. These phishing scams involve the attacker posing as a trusted figure, sending an email with either malicious attachments or links to fake websites, deploying a range of tactics to trick the user into clicking said attachment or link. The recipient, in a moment of error, will either believe that the email is genuine and click, or have a momentary lapse in judgment and click the link.
Human error can also include poor password hygiene, where end-users in a company network either recycle old passwords or use simple passwords that are easy to guess. Incorrect storage of passwords is also a huge risk.
Misdelivery is also a frequent problem; misdelivery is where an employee will send something with highly sensitive or confidential information to the incorrect recipient, either as a result of a phishing scam or just by genuine mistake.
So how do you protect your data – and your business and its reputation – from something as honest and seemingly unpreventable as human error?
The answer is security awareness training.
What Is Security Awareness Training?
Security awareness training is a consolidation of training, testing, and monitoring methods that aim to reduce the number of cybersecurity risks caused by human error.
Human error is divided into two categories: skill-based errors or decision-based errors. The first is a result of negligence or a lapse in judgment; the latter is down to the person in question assessing the situation and making the wrong call. SAT targets both through education and testing through repetition and quizzes.
Security awareness training programs educate end-users in an organization on the dangers and pitfalls of cybersecurity. It teaches them what threats to look out for and how to respond to them when they see them. It uses auditory, visual, and kinetic learning methods to ensure information is taken in and can be applied to real-life situations.
Security awareness training can include a variety of learning methods: in-person training, videos, quizzes, infographics and more. It can also include testing employees, with the sending of simulated phishing emails designed to help admins identify users likely to make costly mistakes, and improve overall awareness.
Why Implement Security Awareness Training?
Robust email security needs a two-pronged approach in order to be successful. This is a combination of a secure email gateway with strong filtering policies, and security awareness training and subsequent phishing simulations.
But if a secure email gateway (SEG) filters out potential threats, why bother with training?
Some advanced phishing scams employ a range of technical tactics like spoofing to mask the identity and IP address of the sender, so it appears as legitimate in a user’s inbox. The sender and IP address might be that of an unknown person outside the company but spoofing an email header will make it look as though the email has come from a trusted source in the user’s inbox. Plenty of SEGs are adept at detecting and filtering these emails out.
Yet many phishing scams don’t deploy advanced spoofing tactics that hide domains and sender IDs. A lot of phishing emails slip past any preventative measures because they’re just that – emails. Phishing emails rely on social engineering tactics to trick end-users into trusting the email as legitimate. In these instances, your employees are the last line of defense, so having them properly trained is a vital step in safeguarding your data and information from being harvested or leaked, which in turn protects your brand’s finances and reputation.
The benefits of security awareness training programs don’t just lie with preventing phishing scams from being successful. Training covers a wide range of topics that fall under cybersecurity. It also includes topics like password security, privacy, compliance, physical security (such as teaching employees to be wary of how they store and present information in the office), and how data moves through networks and how to secure it. All employees, from newbies who are learning from scratch to senior staff members who need a refresher, can stand to benefit from security awareness training.
How Does Security Awareness Training Work?
Security Awareness Training
Security awareness training are educational programs that cover a range of topics on cybersecurity. Often through videos and quizzes, these campaigns teach employees about various potential risks and how to remediate and prevent them in digestible, short videos before testing their knowledge. It educates on common phishing tactics, helping employees learn to spot tell-tale signs or question the nature of the request – for instance, why would a client demand payment for an invoice as fast as possible, circumventing regular approval channels? Why would a CEO demand highly sensitive information of an employee they’ve previously had nothing to do with?
Security awareness training also shows end-users how to spot tricks like domain impersonation, a tactic which involves attackers adopting and using similar looking domains to the relevant organization so at first glance they appear legitimate. Not only does SAT encourage end-users to think critically but instills foundation knowledge so they can automatically detect if something is wrong.
The programs also educate on other ways employees can safeguard their company’s security, such as stressing the importance of proper password hygiene and how to handle and transport data safely both inside and outside the network.
People often learn best when things are broken down into small doses. Long one-off sessions won’t drive results, as it usually results in employees switching off mentally or forgetting what they’ve learned shortly after. Training modules are often broken down into subsets. This means that instead of having employees sit down for hours and hours, training can be broken into multiple days across multiple weeks, so it doesn’t overload users with information and doesn’t eat into their working days. Repetition is often a key focus of the training, strengthening user knowledge as weeks go by.
The Top 10 Security Awareness Training Solutions For Business
Phishing simulations are often part and parcel of security awareness training. These simulations send fake phishing emails to end-users to test their knowledge after training is complete. Relying on what they’ve learned from previous training, employees should be able to spot a phishing email and can flag it with their email provider’s reporting function. Clicking the fake malicious attachment or link will redirect them to a safe page, letting them know they failed the phishing simulation.
These simulations are usually deployed to operate straight after training is finished – although this doesn’t necessarily mean that employees will immediately find a phishing email in their inbox. Simulations can be configured so they regularly crop up in inboxes, with most finding that once a month is enough to not overdo it or let end-users’ reactions get rusty.
The Top 10 Phishing Simulation And Testing Solutions
For solutions to be effective, admins need a broad and extensive view into end-users’ training progress and results. It’s not enough for end-users to complete training then continue to fail the simulations or fall victim to legitimate phishing scams. Admins need a full view into exactly where each employee is in their training and who seems to be struggling and could do with some further training. Further capabilities can provide insights into user behavior to show who is most at risk.
Security Awareness Training Features To Look Out For
Before you make a purchase, it’s good to keep a few things in mind. For the most part, security awareness training comes with phishing simulations as part of the package – but not always. Make sure to check before purchasing and deploying a solution that may not give the full, comprehensive results you want.
Other features to look out for when searching for a strong security awareness solution is:
Strong customization of templates and the ability to draft out your own phishing emails is key. In order for them to be effective, these emails need to be tailored to your company – a one size fits all approach isn’t going to work. Customization capabilities allow admins to tailor phishing emails into something that is believable and applicable to the company and individuals at hand, and at the same time still incorporating the giveaways that alert users to potential phishing scams.
Gamification And Fun
No one likes reading through reams and reams of hardcore text on a topic that most will find boring. Having cut and dry security awareness training won’t help information sink in for a lot of users. For training to sink in, it has to be engaging, easy to take in, and even fun.
The best training is interactive and digestible. Plenty of providers offer SAT solutions that come as short videos that can be interactive. They break down the information into bite-sized chunks that are appealing to look at and easy to understand. The best SAT solutions will also be supplemented with interactive quizzes, helping employees to refresh their knowledge and show what they’ve learned.
Research suggests the best are gamified, giving users opportunity to invest in training and want to see their score improve, without punishment if they fail phishing simulations. This provides a more effective learning environment that does not punish users but rewards success.
The cyberthreat landscape is forever changing, with new tactics and new forms of malware being created constantly. For training solutions to be effective, they need to be regularly updated. Some of the best solutions provide and update their content on a regular basis, ensuring that employees stay up-to-date on emerging threats, which helps prevent user risk and protects your most sensitive data and information.
Choosing the right security awareness solution can be tricky. You need to think of your target audience – your end-users. What sort of programs would be best suited to them? Would a fun, humorous approach work or would they appreciate a program that’s more cut and dry? What kind of levels of training does everyone need? What’s the gaps in people’s knowledge and what’s the disparity between individuals?
It can seem like a lot to think about. Not sure where to begin? That’s okay, we’ve made it easy for you by compiling a list of the best security awareness training vendors on the market here:
The Top 10 Security Awareness Training Platforms For Business
Human error might be a universal constant, but that doesn’t mean it has to spell disaster for your company. With the right training, support, and positive encouragement, your end-users can be the last line of defense as effectively and securely as possible against cyberthreats. Making sure they get the right training – something that isn’t too technical or overloading and is encouraging yet educational – is a vital step in patching security in places where technology can’t reach.