4 Tips for Creating Effective Security Awareness Training for Your Employees

4 Tips for Creating Effective Security Awareness Training for Your Employees

There’s one element of a company’s overall cybersecurity strategy that is often overlooked and that’s employee security awareness training. Yet the human element of your overall technology infrastructure is typically the hacker’s main target.

Phishing is the number one cause of data breaches and those phishing emails and direct messages are squarely focused on the user and tricking them into inviting a dangerous code into your system.

According to the 2019 Data Protection Report by Shred-it, 40% of small business owners in Canada that reported a data breach cited human error as the cause. 

The report also found that Canadian businesses in general were lacking a clear understanding of the importance and impact of data security at all levels, especially when it comes to staff awareness training.

While its vital to have a multi-layered plan when it comes to network security, the layer that includes teaching your employees about data security should be a key component, and not an afterthought that’s rushed through.

While most companies know cybersecurity training is important, not all know how to approach it, how often to hold it, or what topics should be included.

If you’ve been unsure how to put together comprehensive security awareness training for your employees, we’ve compiled some tips that can get you started.

How Do I Put Together Effective IT Security Training?

If you have well-trained staff that are given the knowledge and tools to identify and avoid cyberattacks, your business significantly reduces their risk of falling victim to a data breach, ransomware attack, or other malicous threat.

Even modest cybersecurity training programs have a 7-fold return on investment due to reduced risk of a costly data breach.

Here are some tips that can help you put together an effective security awareness training program for your employees.

Conduct Training Regularly

If you’re only giving employees a primer on cybersecurity when they’re hired and then never addressing it again, that training is going to have limited impact. Threats are evolving all the time and employees need to know about new ones that may have not been around during their initial training.

People also need a refresher because it reminds them that data security is an ongoing part of their every day life working with technology and it emphasizes the importance of staying on guard.

You should conduct training for all your employees at least once a year. If you can do it every 6 months, that’s even better. If you are in a field like healthcare or finance and have to adhere to regulations such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), then you may want to hold awareness training at least every 6 months.

Key Subjects to Include

While subjects may vary according to your industry and what types of emerging threats are showing up in key cybersecurity reports, there are some main areas that you’ll want to cover, especially phishing.

Topics to include in your training:

  • Phishing awareness
  • Different types of phishing (email, text, social media, phone)
  • Modes of entry for malware/viruses
  • Password security
  • How to handle sensitive documents and customer information
  • What can and cannot be installed on company devices
  • Social media policy for work information being shared online
  • Mobile device security
  • Safe internet browsing 
  • Physical device security (screen locks, etc.)

Conduct Simulated Attacks

Learning about what a phishing email looks like and actually receiving one during the course of a busy day are two very different things. By having simulated phishing emails sent to your employees without them knowing, you can judge their responsiveness and how well they’re able to spot a suspicious email and deploy proper cybersecurity actions (like telling the IT department or running a virus scan).

Plus, if employees know there will be simulated phishing attacks coming at any time, they’ll be on their toes when going through their email and less likely to let their guard down and accidentally click on a malicious link.

Employ Resources to Help

Most business owners are experts at their own business, but they can’t be expected to be cybersecurity experts too. There are plenty of resources out there to help you put together a comprehensive security awareness training that’s going to be informative and can be easily updated with new information.

  • Your IT Provider: Working with an IT provider, like Haxxess, you can offload the responsibility of ongoing IT security training and know employees are getting trained by the experts.
  • Online Resources: There are several online resources and “kits” you can download that can reduce the time it takes to create and conduct security awareness training. These include:
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Month Resources from both Canada, and the US
    • Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity Learning Hub (SMO Training)
    • Canadian Internet Registration Authority Training Resources (CIRA)

Schedule Your Next Employee Security Awareness Training

Strengthen your overall cybersecurity posture and ensure your employees have the expert training they need to be a strong part of your IT security strategy. Haxxess can help with informative and ongoing security awareness training.

Contact us today to schedule your staff security training! Call 705-222-8324 or reach out online.

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