No matter how comprehensive cybersecurity systems are, the weak link is very often the human understanding and participation in how these systems work. Offering security awareness training is only part of the solution for many businesses, CIOs, and heads of IT. Ensuring that the message of how vital security awareness can be, and practically implementing this message effectively, is the real key to guaranteeing cybersecurity for all types of businesses and organizations.
So, how do businesses and department heads make sure that the messages of security awareness training are not lost in translation or simply undervalued? The five tips below can help improve the efficacy of any training offered, providing greater protection for sensitive information like payment details, personally identifiable information (PII), and protected health information (PHI).
Put Policies and Procedures in Place
At its most basic, data security is all about documentation. Therefore, businesses should utilize policies and procedures to ensure documentation is a part of everyday operations. This will help them comply with appropriate regulations, reinforce the message of security awareness training, and encourage day-to-day best practices.
Policies and procedures can include factors such as data retention, password protection, firewall regulations, and any mandatory security regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR.
Use the Correct Security Tools
Often the message of security training can be lost in implementation due to a lack of buy-in by staff. This can result from a perceived lack of the appropriate tools or misuse of the correct ones. Data breaches are often the result of a misunderstanding of the security tools being used or even an incorrect configuration. Tools such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and file integrity management can be essential parts of a successful cybersecurity program, but they need to be utilized in the correct way that offers protection without interrupting workflow or placing an excessive burden on employees.
Prepare a Successful Response
A core tenet of security awareness should center around what to do when a data breach occurs. In modern business, these are all but inevitable, but they are much easier to deal with if staff are trained for this eventuality. Depending on the sector, breaches can result in damage to reputation and severe fines for non-compliance, so it is in the interests of the business to be prepared.
Different breaches require varying compliance responses in terms of who you notify and when. Ensuring staff know how to respond and not just the dangers of a breach can be an effective part of any security awareness program.
Offering a security awareness program is only the first step, even if all employees complete the training. The program should be ongoing with a continuous analysis of risks and requirements, helping to determine what kind of training is offered. In addition, regularly review the training program, using analysis of data from employee surveys to set benchmarks and determine the nature of future training.
Keep Cybersecurity in the Foreground
Try to keep training as an ongoing process throughout the year, always striving to reduce risk and keep the issue at the front of employees’ minds. Send out phishing simulations to assess reactions and keep people in the habit of reporting incidents. Customized phishing simulations are more realistic and provide a good evaluation of where training levels are. Try and share cybersecurity news and current threats, along with information about password security that could be of use to staff throughout the organization.
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