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The human factor: addressing the role of employee awareness in cyber security
Blog //22-08-2023

The human factor: addressing the role of employee awareness in cyber security

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

In today’s world where technology is the backbone of any organisation, the importance of cyber security cannot be overstated. Yet, while we invest in complex encryption software and robust firewalls, there's a critical component that often gets overlooked - the human factor. With so much at risk if an organisation is subject to a cyber attack, employee education is key - ensuring that your employees not only know what to look out for, but also why.

The importance of employee awareness

Employee awareness is a critical component of cyber security in business. As the human element is often considered the weakest link in the security chain, employees can become unwitting accomplices to cyber-criminals through actions such as clicking on malicious links or downloading harmful attachments. By raising employee awareness about cyber security threats and safe online practices, businesses can significantly reduce their vulnerability to attacks.

Employees who are well-informed about the various forms of cyber threats, such as phishing, ransomware, and social engineering, are less likely to fall victim to these attacks. Furthermore, an aware employee is more likely to identify and report suspicious activity, enabling the organisation to act swiftly and mitigate potential damage. Therefore, investing in cyber security awareness training for employees is not just beneficial, but essential for businesses in the digital age.

How employee training can mitigate risks

  1. Phishing attacks: training employees to recognise phishing emails can significantly mitigate the risk of these attacks. Employees should be taught to identify suspicious elements like generic greetings, poor grammar or spelling, and requests for sensitive information. They should also be trained not to click on any links or download attachments from unknown sources, and to report suspected phishing attempts to IT.
  2. Password security: Employees often use weak passwords or reuse them across multiple platforms, which can lead to unauthorised access. Training employees on the importance of strong, unique passwords and providing guidelines or minimum requirements for creating them can enhance overall cyber security.
  3. Social engineering: This involves manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information. Training can help employees understand the tactics used in social engineering, such as impersonating a trusted individual or authority figure, and how to respond appropriately.
  4. Safe internet use: Employees should be trained on safe browsing habits, like checking for secure connections (https in the URL) when accessing websites, especially when entering sensitive data. Awareness about the risks associated with downloading software or files from untrusted sources is also crucial.
  5. Remote work security: With more employees working remotely, training on securing home networks, using VPNs, and recognising potential threats unique to remote work environments can significantly reduce cyber security risks.

Key elements of employee awareness training:

Organisations can provide employee training to mitigate cyber security risks in several ways:

  1. Regular training sessions: hold frequent, mandatory training sessions to educate employees about the latest cyber threats and safe online practices.
  2. Interactive learning: use interactive methods like simulations, role-playing, or gamified learning to make training engaging and memorable. For example, simulate phishing attacks to test employees' ability to identify and respond to them appropriately.
  3. Online courses: leverage online platforms that offer cyber security courses. These platforms often have quizzes and assessments at the end of each module to ensure understanding.
  4. Regular updates: cyber threats evolve rapidly. Regularly update your training content to reflect the latest threats and defence strategies.
  5. Create a cyber security policy: develop a comprehensive cyber security policy that clearly outlines expected behaviours, procedures for reporting potential threats, and consequences for non-compliance. Ensure all employees are familiar with this policy.
  6. Personalised training: not all employees face the same level of cyber risk. Tailor your training to the specific roles and responsibilities of different teams or individuals.
  7. Encourage a security culture: foster a culture that values security and foster an open environment where employees feel comfortable reporting potential security issues without fear of repercussion. Regular updates and discussions on cyber security can keep the topic at the forefront of everyone's minds. Ultimately, creating a security-aware culture requires ongoing effort and commitment from all levels of the organisation, from the top executives to the newest hires.

Next steps

In conclusion, addressing the human factor in cyber security is a crucial aspect of any security strategy. As technology continues to evolve and cyber threats become more sophisticated, it's clear that employees are not just the first line of defence, but also the most vulnerable point of attack. Therefore, cultivating a culture of cyber security awareness and providing regular, engaging training for all employees is key to protecting your organisation.

At Advanced, our expert team can help you develop a robust cyber security strategy, provide regular updates on emerging threats, and foster a security-aware culture within your organisation. Get in touch today to learn more.

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