What Is Security Awareness Training?

Security Awareness Training

If you care about the protection of your files, security awareness training is a must.

Firewalls, vulnerability testing, email spam filters, and other cybersecurity tools and techniques are used to protect the network and computers. Fortunately, there are a plethora of cybersecurity tools available to assist you in protecting your data. Human error, on the other hand, is a key link in the chain that even the most advanced cybersecurity software can’t fully eliminate. Yes, it’s a tricky link in the chain, and it can be very risky if it’s also a weak link.

Phishing is the most famous cyber attack that takes advantage of human error. Unfortunately, several workers are victims of such attacks. According to the Phishing by Industry Benchmarking Report from KnowBe4, nearly 38% of untrained users are exposed to phishing attacks and fail phishing tests. It’s very frightening. The near-38 percent of people who make mistakes can lead to a variety of bad outcomes, including:

  • Your employees’ financial data being stolen,
  • Your customers’ personal info being used or sold, and
  • Many similar awful scenarios.

So, how do you deal with a group of untrained individuals who are vulnerable to phishing attacks? You are the one who educates them! Security awareness training is the name for this form of training. It goes beyond phishing, but the main goal remains the same. What you need to know about security awareness training is mentioned below.

What Is Security Awareness Training?

The process of formally or officially delivering cybersecurity-related training to your employees is known as security awareness training. While it is often referred to as cyber awareness training, security awareness training can cover a wide range of topics. It can also cover any general security issues that arise as a result of working for your business.

Security awareness training is adaptable, with a range of formats and timeframes available. Consider the following scenario:

  • It could be delivered as a web-based course (either in-person or fully online).
  • You can either put it together yourself and administer the training yourself or employ a third-party vendor to do it for you.
  • This may be done as part of the onboarding process for new employees, or as annual or quarterly preparation (or some combination of the three).

Security awareness training has two main objectives. One is to make certain that the workers are aware of cybersecurity threats, how to recognise them, and how to prevent them. The other is to provide your staff with the necessary resources, procedures, and expertise to deal with cybersecurity situations that can occur at work.

During security awareness training, you can cover a variety of topics. You must cover the following five subjects.

Top 5 Security Awareness Training Topics That Your Business Must Cover

Make sure these five subjects are covered when putting together a security awareness training or vetting vendors to employ…

Security Awareness Training Topic 1: Operating Safely on Social Media

Any network or website that communicates with external users, including social media, can pose a security risk to your company. Many people assume that active phishing attacks come from email, but this isn’t always the case. This may be due to the fact that people access their organisations’ networks using a variety of devices.

According to the results of Wandera’s 2020 Mobile Threat Landscape Study, 87 percent of active mobile device phishing attacks came from sources other than email. Social media was one of the other sources listed in the study.

Though social media isn’t always allowed at work, it’s an important part of most people’s personal lives. Furthermore, several jobs necessitate interaction with social media. This could include your personal accounts as well as the social profiles of your organisation. I’ll use a Facebook message I got a few years ago as an example of how a phishing attack on social media might look.

One thing to keep in mind about this message is that it came from a trusted friend whose account had been compromised, and the attacker was attempting to access my email via their social media account. This is extremely dangerous because it’s one thing to be phished by a stranger, but spotting it in someone you know needs a whole different level of awareness (an area that should be covered in your security awareness training).

Fortunately, I was able to locate it. I was able to do so because I used logical thinking, which is one of the topics that security awareness training can address. I asked myself a series of important questions:

  • Why would a friend of mine need my email address in order to contact their mother? It just doesn’t add up.
  • Who uses email in that manner on a daily basis?
  • Why is it that my friend can’t just call me instead of messaging me?
  • Why me and not a member of my family?

Rather than simply responding to a situation, it’s important for your workers to ask questions, use logic, and think critically about it.

The hacker tried to evoke an emotional response of sympathy while still using urgency to get me to reply in the phishing attack example above. The pleading and “really quick” are intended to agitate the target, while the reason for them wanting access to reach their mother is intended to make the victim feel like they are doing a favour for their “friend.” You should also address these two subjects in security awareness training. This hacker might have used my email to gain access to my bank account, target other social media accounts, and even try to penetrate my employer if I had given them my email.

The lesson here is that social media is ubiquitous in our personal lives and, in many cases, in the workplace. As a consequence, it should be extensively discussed in your security awareness preparation.

Security Awareness Training Topic 2: Internet Browsing with Knowledge

Hey there, you… Shouldn’t you be working instead of reading this fantastic security awareness training blog? Okay, maybe that was a stretch, but let’s face it: most people’s minds wander at work, leading to some casual (and oh-so-satisfying) internet surfing. Some businesses also have policies in place that allow for a limited amount of time to be used for casual browsing.

Surfing the internet is harmless… unless it compromises the employer’s cybersecurity. Then it’s no longer “harmless.” This is why it’s important to teach the workers how to use the internet safely, whether for fun or for work-related study.

In all seriousness, though, surfing the internet on a work computer will get you into a lot of trouble. This may include the following:

  • Stumbling onto phishing or other malicious sites,
  • Clicking on dangerous links, and
  • Interacting with unsecure websites.

The last one is particularly noteworthy. SSL/TLS certificates must be understood by the staff, as well as how to recognise insecure websites. (These are the certificates that show up in your browser’s address bar as a padlock, indicating that you’re using a safe, encrypted connection.) The explanation for this is that hackers can intercept your employees’ conversations or communications over vulnerable connections and use that information against them — or your company — in a cyber attack.

Security Awareness Training Topic 3: Spotting Dangerous Emails

While we discussed social engineering on social media, email remains an important subject to cover in your security awareness training. If you might believe that malware-detecting email spam filters will fix the issue, they will not. It will help, but not nearly as much as you would expect. According to FireEye data from April to June 2019, 86 percent of cyber attacks (via email) contained no malware. As a result, your spam filters will miss these emails, and you’ll have to rely on your employees to detect an assault.

I’ll tell you about another personal experience with a social engineering assault. Six months ago, I got the email below in my personal email address. Aside from the most obvious mistake, such as the fact that I am not married, this email raises a slew of other red flags that you can address in your security awareness training.

Emails that have these characteristics can be dangerous:

  • The email is from an unknown sender.
  • It looks like a legitimate company email address but it’s slightly different.
  • A warning message from your email service provider is associated with the email.
  • The sender attempts to get you to share something or click on something unsolicited.
  • The sender uses language that creates a sense of urgency, fear, or curiosity.
  • The email contains awkward wording, poor grammar, and/or impersonal verbiage.

Security Awareness Training Topic 4: Making Secure Passwords

Passwords are the ultimate headache. I can’t remember them, so I have to change them all the time… There won’t be another “forgot my password” snafu. Passwords are in use for a reason. They make an effort to keep bad actors out of your accounts. As a result, it’s important to strengthen them. All workers should be taught how to use strong passwords.

Here are some password-choice tips that should be covered in your security awareness training:

  • Avoid predictable passwords.
  • Never share or reuse passwords.
  • Don’t use short passwords (try to make them more than 10-15 characters in length).
  • Think in terms of creating nonsensical but easy-to-remember passphrases instead of passwords (think “H1pposArent4BirdsRU” instead of “SXN8t875yu2fcPe”).
  • Use lowercase letters, capital letters, special characters, AND numbers (yes, all four).

Security Awareness Training Topic 5: Communication is Key

No, this isn’t a piece of relationship advice (although communication is key with that, too). It’s still about raising security awareness. However, since it is about the relationship between workers, you might consider this a relationship advice recommendation.

In security awareness training, the subject of communication should be covered in two areas:

  • Creating a safe environment for workers to seek assistance.
  • Assuring that workers are aware of where they can seek assistance.

Employees should feel like it’s their obligation or duty to know which websites/emails/messages are malicious and which aren’t after spending time and money on security awareness training. This sense of responsibility, on the other hand, might make certain workers feel unable to reach out if anything goes wrong, fearing that it would make them seem as if they weren’t paying attention or have a bad eye for these things. That’s not nice!

You want your workers to feel at ease approaching you for help in these circumstances. This would help to foster a positive work environment. This also increases the chances of identifying a cyber threat and minimising the harm it does. As a result, make it clear in security awareness training that workers are encouraged to seek help if they encounter anything fishy (or should I say “phishy”).

Now that they’re comfortable asking for help in these cases, it’s time to make sure they know who to contact in the event of a cyberattack. I recommend that you have:

  • A designated “go-to” individual in your IT department who can assist you in identifying potentially harmful emails, websites, and links.
  • All employees should have access to the contact information for this go-to individual.
  • If the first person is unavailable, there is a contingency plan in place.

If a legitimate problem arises, this individual may take command of the situation (i.e., if they need to make all employees aware of the threat and so on).

Conclusion of Cyber Awareness Training

Any organization’s security awareness training is unquestionably beneficial. If you do it yourself or employ someone to do it for you, make sure your preparation is comprehensive and includes at a minimum the topics mentioned above. External tools from reputable outlets, such as the Department of Defense’s Cyber Awareness Challenge online training course, can also be used as part of your training.

You want to make sure your workers are well trained because they are your first and last line of defence. Keep in mind that your company’s protections are just as good as its weakest connection. Give your workers the information and resources they need to keep your company safe and your data safe.

Melina Richardson
Melina Richardson is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cybers Guards. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.