Return to blog Jeremiah, Kyle & Mallory, Cybersecurity, Ransomware Protection
June 23, 2023 | By christa

The Human Factor: Educating Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Security experts have long known that employees are often unaware of the risks they pose to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and many don’t understand how to avoid cyber threats. As a result, they may inadvertently open up an organization’s critical data to hackers who could use it for malicious purposes. In fact, IBM research shows that human error is behind more than 90% of all cyberattacks.

That’s why it’s critical to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices. But where do you start? Here are a few ideas to increase your business’s cyber resilience through employee education.

Embrace a Top-down Approach

Embracing a top-down approach to cybersecurity training is a powerful strategy for organizations to fortify their defenses against evolving cyber threats. When executives and board members lead by example, it creates a security-conscious culture throughout the entire organization. This commitment to cybersecurity encourages continuous improvement and vigilance, helping companies navigate the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats.

Invest in Cybersecurity Awareness Training Programs 

In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, there’s no such thing as too much training. As we stated, the threat landscape is constantly changing, and the only way to stay ahead of these threats is by continually educating employees on the most up-to-date best practices. Plus, training programs are an affordable investment compared to the potential financial and reputational damages that can result from a successful cyber attack.

Here are a few ideas for employee training:

Phishing Awareness Training

Phishing is a favorite tactic among cybercriminals because it often exploits human vulnerabilities instead of technical ones. By educating employees on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks, businesses can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to these threats.

Password Management Best Practices

Passwords are often the first line of defense for digital accounts and systems, and ensuring that employees follow best practices in password management can substantially strengthen an organization’s overall security posture.

Make Employee Education Relevant to Their Position

Employee education is an essential aspect of any successful business. However, to make it truly effective, it needs to be relevant to the employee’s position within the company. For instance, an IT engineer’s training needs would differ significantly from those of a marketing director or accountant.

To make sure the education is customized for each employee, consider their daily job responsibilities, how often they interact with technology, the software and tools they use, and their work environment. By understanding these factors, you can develop training plans that meet the specific needs of employees, helping them better understand how they can contribute to the business’s cyber resilience.

Reinforce Training and Best Practices

Reinforcement is the secret ingredient for ensuring that individuals retain what they’ve learned. Imagine the power of weekly or monthly email reminders, gently nudging employees to remember and practice cybersecurity best practices.

Don’t stop there, though! Take it a step further by engaging in simulated phishing exercises that sharpen their skills to detect and avoid these digital traps. By empowering employees in this manner, you not only boost their confidence but also cultivate a resilient workforce, well-equipped to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats that could impact your company’s security.

Build a Security-Aware Culture

The human factor is crucial in cybersecurity for SMBs, so never underestimate the power of informed employees. By embracing a top-down approach, investing in cybersecurity awareness training, tailoring education to each employee’s role, and reinforcing best practices, organizations can nurture a security-aware culture. This, in turn, helps to minimize the overall risk of cyberattacks. At the end of the day, a well-informed and vigilant workforce is a company’s strongest defense against the ever-changing world of cybercrime.

LeadingIT offers 24/7, all-inclusive, fast and friendly technology and cybersecurity support for nonprofits, manufacturers, schools, accounting firms, religious organizations, government, and law offices with 20-200 employees across the Chicagoland area

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