Oftentimes, organizations are so worried about implementing technical security controls like firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and anti-malware software that they forget about the most important security control: employees.
And when it comes to cybersecurity, the employees in your organization tend to be the weakest link in your defense, so ensuring that everyone is working with—rather than against—your security controls is critical. All employees should receive security awareness training on a frequent, recurring basis. Security awareness training programs are designed to help users and employers understand the role they play in helping to combat security breaches.
From regulatory compliance to phishing awareness and general cybersecurity best practices, awareness training helps employees keep your organization—and its data—safe. An awareness program also allows you to keep track of which employees have completed training, which new staff need to get up to speed and which users need a refresher course.
Many vendors provide short, video-based training modules about such timely security-awareness topics as using secure authentication methods, identifying social engineering (phishing) attacks, safe handling of sensitive data, causes of unintentional data exposure and the proper way to identify and report potential security incidents. Upon conclusion of a training module, participants are typically required to pass some type of quiz to gauge comprehension and retention of the material. These videos are a great way to get your team started on the road to security awareness.
You can supplement these training efforts with recurring tests such as internal phishing campaigns. These serve as a practical demonstration that employees’ security awareness is improving, and a way to keep employees sharp when it comes to spotting suspicious activity. Your initial test results will likely be substandard, but as employees become accustomed to being on the lookout for phishing, results should dramatically improve. Many organizations have fostered an environment of security awareness through positive, public recognition of employees who score well on their phishing tests.
When Incidents Do Occur
To properly protect your business—and your data—you need to develop and document a process that defines standard procedures, roles, duties, and key management personnel with decision-making authority.
- Define organization-wide standards for employees to report suspicious events to the incident response team, the approved methods for such reporting and the kind of information that should be included in the report.
- Document third-party contact information to be used to report a security incident, such as law enforcement, relevant government departments, vendors and Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) partners.
- Incorporate the incident-response process into your security awareness training program so that all employees are familiar with it.
To keep employees vigilant and aware of new security threats, conduct recurring mock incident response exercises the same way you would with phishing or email security testing. These can be conducted as tabletop exercises for hypothetical scenarios and should help participants maintain awareness and comfort in responding to real-world threats. Exercises should test communication channels, decision making and the incident responders’ technical capabilities using the tools and data available to them. Practicing incident response in this manner is a great way to keep your employees sharp and ready to jump into action should a real security incident materialize.
Security gaps? We’ve got you covered.
Don’t know where you stand when it comes to security? We’ve got you covered. Our security experts have the knowledge and experience to help organizations like yours reach and maintain full compliance. We perform a comprehensive analysis of your technology and cybersecurity environment, a review of potential cybersecurity gaps and compliance risks and then help you build a plan customized for your organization with actionable steps to help mitigate risks and protect employees and your data.