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Cybersecurity Training for Employees: Best Practices to Follow

There are few investments for organizations that yield a higher return than implementing a cybersecurity training program for their employees. In terms of cybersecurity, employees are your organization’s greatest asset, and your greatest liability. 

A well-trained, knowledgeable employee can act as a sentry, spotting the early signs of an attack and alerting their cybersecurity team to the danger. On the other hand, untrained employees can unwittingly bumble into traps that could cost their organizations millions of dollars. 

The one key difference between these two employees? Cybersecurity training. 

In this article, we’ll explore the best practices IT leaders should follow as they design and implement cybersecurity training regimens in their organizations. We’ll cover the best techniques to train your employees, the tools you’ll need, and explore how much cybersecurity training costs. 

By following these best practices, you can transform your employees from your organization’s greatest cybersecurity weakness to your greatest strength. 

What is Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees?

Cybersecurity awareness training, sometimes called security awareness training, educates employees on how to identify and react to cybersecurity threats. The training covers a variety of topics, including areas such as data protection, password management, and email security.

Training is often conducted over several modules, and features quizzes to ensure employees understand the material. Organizations will often carry out phishing simulations before and after the training to identify benchmarks, measure improvements, and identify employees who require further training. 

Cybersecurity training can be conducted either in-person, online in real-time, or asynchronously using recorded materials. Employees will learn how to spot common attacks, such as social engineering scams, and are taught how to use cybersecurity technologies like password managers or VPNs. 

Every organization––no matter how big or small––is vulnerable to cyber attacks, and investing in cybersecurity awareness training is a significant step towards reducing the likelihood your business will fall victim to an attack.

Related: A Guide to Cybersecurity Training and Cyber Awareness

Why Do Employees Need Cybersecurity Training?

Employees are the heartbeat of any organization. They own your relationships with customers, vendors, and partners, can access all your proprietary datasets, and run all your business systems. Without them, your business would cease to function. 

But at the same time, employees are human. And that means they make mistakes. It’s easy for employees to be tricked by sophisticated cyberattacks, especially if they don’t know the warning signs to look out for, or the appropriate manner in which to respond.

All it takes for an organization to suffer a crippling cyberattack is one employee to fall prey to a threat, opening the door for attackers to access your IT infrastructure. Employees that are well-trained in cybersecurity are your greatest asset in defending against cyberattacks, trumping any piece of technology. That’s why so many organizations are embracing cybersecurity programs for their employees – and reaping the benefits.

How Do I Train My Employees for Cybersecurity? 

The cybersecurity training field is growing fast, and there’s no shortage of options for organizations looking to train their employees in the basic aspects of cybersecurity. Here are four of the main ways to train employees for cybersecurity:

Hire a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Firm

For a topic as important as cybersecurity training, it makes sense to partner with experts who know the latest cybersecurity trends and best practices. These security awareness training providers have a proven framework and can demonstrate the improvement their training programs drive in an organization’s overall security stance. 

These trainings are typically delivered as part of a bootcamp, and feature a series of short modules, each devoted to a key topic. As part of the engagement, training providers will conduct benchmark tests to help organizations understand how their employees are performing relative to similar organizations. 

The rapid advancement of remote work has presented challenges for cybersecurity awareness training firms, and many leading providers have pivoted to an online model that features interactive videos, games, and quizzes. This frees employees up to complete the training asynchronously, boosting engagement rates. 

Cybersecurity Training for New Hires

New employees are a prime target for attackers. They’re unsure of how the organization’s systems work, don’t know who to turn to for help, and are vulnerable to social engineering and phishing scams.

To combat this, include cybersecurity training as part of the new hire onboarding process. Make sure not just to cover the technical content – take steps to ensure that new employees see the importance of cybersecurity, are bought into their role, and understand how to share any warning signs of attacks. Establishing a culture that emphasizes sharing and avoids blaming individuals helps ensure that new employees will come to the IT team if they encounter any suspicious situations. 

Create Clear Cybersecurity Policies

Codify your organization’s cybersecurity policies, and include this document in your employee handbook. Make sure that your employees know how to easily access your cybersecurity policies and can refer to them in the event of an attack.

The content of the cybersecurity awareness training should flow from your cybersecurity policies, and you should train your employees to follow policy. It’s important to ensure that employees know exactly how to respond to a security incident, and who to escalate problems to. Every employee is responsible for ensuring the organization is protected from cyber attacks. Your organization’s policies should clearly outline the responsibilities of employees in minimizing your organization’s exposure to cyber attacks. 

Train Employees to Spot Common Attacks

As cybersecurity technology has improved with new innovations like continuous monitoring and vulnerability scanning, attackers have increasingly focused on exploiting individual employees to gain access to secure networks. 

Ensure that employees know how to spot the most common cybersecurity attacks they may be exposed to: attack vectors like phishing or social engineering. Attackers will often spoof email addresses and domains to pretend to be a legitimate source, and having established trust, will request proprietary information. 

Teach employees how to spot a phishing email, and cover the basics of social engineering attacks. An astonishing 91% of cyberattacks begin with phishing, so it’s crucial that your employees know how to identify the signs of phishing and safely respond. 

How Much Does Cybersecurity Employee Training Cost?

There are many different forms of cybersecurity employee training. Costs are largely driven by the rigor of a training course. Other factors impact cost too, including the location (in-person or virtual), number of participants, and level of customization.

It is possible to get started with cybersecurity training for free on platforms like YouTube, however you’ll likely find that the quality is inconsistent at best and misleading at worst. There’s other drawbacks too: this form of training is impersonal, employees can’t ask questions, and there’s no way to test what your team learned from the training. 

Because it’s such an important investment in safeguarding your organization, we’d suggest you not opt for the cheapest provider when it comes to cybersecurity training. Instead, find a trusted partner with a record of successfully improving cybersecurity awareness at organizations similar to yours. 

Security awareness training providers are the perfect match. These organizations are specialized providers with an established reputation for providing cybersecurity training. Training is typically delivered in a bootcamp format, and consists of short modules that cover key topics in an interactive, engaging manner. Many training providers have partnered with online platforms to deliver highly effective cybersecurity training remotely. 

Working with partners like this will likely cost several thousand dollars per bootcamp, but it’s an investment that will ensure your leadership team rests easier at night, safe in the knowledge that their employees know how to effectively defend the organization against common attacks.

How Often Should I Train Employees on Cybersecurity?

Studies have shown that it’s best to deliver cybersecurity awareness training to employees 2 – 3 times each year. Essentially, the less training an organization undertakes, the more susceptible they are to cyberattacks that exploit their employees. 

Avoid delivering an identical training program every 4 – 6 months, or you’ll quickly find that employee engagement drops off a cliff. Update the training to reflect the latest threats faced by your organization. One way to do this is to conduct regular threat intelligence, as well as carrying out periodic vulnerability assessments

Tech Heads – Your Cybersecurity Awareness Training Partner

If you’re looking for a partner to lead cybersecurity awareness training for your organization, the team at Tech Heads is here to help. Our ThInc. BootcampTM provides a series of on-demand training courses that cover all the key aspects of cybersecurity your employees need to be aware of. 

Tech Heads has partnered with KnowBe4 to create a series of highly engaging courses that can be tailored to the individual needs of your organization. Over a year of using KnowBe4 training, companies can expect to see a reduction in the percentage of employees that are prone to phishing attacks from 30% down to just 2%. 
To learn more, schedule a free consultation with our team today.