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Why cyber security awareness training is more important than ever

A significant target shift towards organisations during the pandemic means employee cyber security training is essential. We're here to help you navigate this issue.
Mike Jeavons, Content Writer

Cybercrime is becoming an ever-increasing risk not just to individuals, but also to businesses. In 2021, the average cost of a data breach rose from $3.86m in 2020 to $4.24m USD - a 17-year high. Cybercriminals are becoming smarter and more determined, and are attacking anyone they think they can steal from.

This is why cyber security awareness training isn’t just for IT professionals. Anyone who uses tech - desktop, laptop, or smart device - is a potential target for criminals, and therefore should be trained in basic cyber security.

How cybercrime has shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic

With the pandemic sweeping the globe, there was a sudden shift in the way businesses operated. Lockdowns forced organizations to find a new way to work while ensuring employees and clients were kept safe.

As a result, remote working became the norm. What was once something not practiced by the majority of companies suddenly became common, with more people than ever spending time online as they relied on the internet for entertainment, communication, and shopping. This meant cybercriminals had an increase in opportunities and targets, so the COVID-19 impact on cyber security was huge.

Common tactics used by criminals to target businesses and their employees include phishing, social engineering, malware, and other sophisticated tools and tricks. 

85% of attacks succeed by defrauding humans who fall for a trap set by a cybercriminal. During a time when many people felt scared and vulnerable, criminals saw their chance to capitalize.

Due to certain sectors, such as travel and tourism, shutting down, many criminals had to change their targets. Financial institutions and insurers became a big target for criminals, with 74% of financial businesses reporting an increase in cyber attacks since the start of the pandemic. 

The importance of continuous cyber security training

Cyber security is an ever-changing landscape and depends on the proactivity of an organization rather than reactivity. If your business is targeted by criminals and you don’t have the necessary training or protective measures in place then you’ve put your business in a difficult position. When you’re attacked, and data, money, or other assets are stolen, it can cost you more than you realize, and you risk irreparable damage to your business.

Cybercriminals will likely not target your business specifically but will do so by using a program or virus looking to exploit weaknesses in your security - whether that be the systems in place or your employees. Once a weakness is identified attackers will look to exploit those weaknesses, which can result in you losing data, being locked out of your network, or being asked to pay a ransom - all of which will cost.

This is why the importance of cyber security awareness training is so high. You may have all the appropriate firewalls and security measures in place, but if employees are identified as the weakness then they may be targeted. By providing employees with cyber security training you can help them to protect themselves online - and in turn, help to protect your business.

The benefits of proper training for your employees and your business

By providing your employees with cyber security training you give them the knowledge they need to stay vigilant online. The benefits of cyber security awareness training for employees include:

  • It allows them to feel more confident online
  • Employees can work safely and recognize potential threats
  • Upskill them so they can progress their careers
  • Training enables employees to feel valued

As well as benefiting your employees, there are also business benefits of cyber security training. These include:

  • Protecting the network, data, revenue, and reputation of your business
  • Protecting your customers who entrust you with their data
  • Ensuring no disruption to business operations

For more information, check out our blog post on how businesses can use their staff to protect from cyber attacks.

The responsibility of protecting sensitive data

As well as being morally responsible for protecting the data held by your business, your business is also legally responsible. Data protection is an employee's responsibility, but it’s also your business's responsibility to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make that happen.

Customers trust your business to protect their data. If you fall foul of a cyber attack and their data is compromised you will lose the trust of your customer and face severe damage to your reputation. Your business may even be liable for fines.

Your business must go above and beyond to keep your customer's data secure. But how do you protect sensitive data? This can be achieved by:

  • Encrypting necessary data
  • Properly organizing and storing data
  • Enabling two-factor authentication
  • Backing up data
  • Using a VPN when using public networks
  • Using up-to-date operating systems
  • Protecting physical devices

These are all on top of the basic cyber security awareness training you should ensure all employees at your organization receive.

Changing your employees' mindset

Cyber security is crucial to the success and reputation of your business. Not all employees within your organization may have the same mentality as you, but changing that mindset is vital to ensuring they always follow cyber security awareness best practices.

Below are five ways to ensure your team has the same respect and understanding for cyber security as you do.

  1. Reiterate that great cyber security is a core business value. Cyber security isn’t just something for the IT department to worry about, but is a responsibility that sits with everyone within the business.
  2. Remind them that they are potential targets. In the eyes of a criminal everybody is a possible target. Employees of any seniority may fall foul to an attack, and provide the criminals with what they’re looking for.
  3. Provide employees with up-to-date cyber security training so they have all the skills and knowledge they need to spot malicious activity. 
  4. Incentivize employees who follow protocol. Don’t wait for someone to attack your business, test employees regularly to make sure they’re following processes. If they are, reward them, but if they’re not, provide them with additional guidance and training.
  5. Create a “security community” within your business, to prevent any feelings of animosity and bring employees at various levels together.

How to make cyber security awareness training more engaging

Cyber security isn’t a glamorous subject and is difficult to make entertaining for those with little interest in the subject. However, cyber security education and training is important, and an effort to ensure it’s as engaging as possible is a must.

A simple PowerPoint presentation, a video, or a pamphlet is a surefire way of ensuring employees don’t engage with the training material. Low engagement results in poor cyber security awareness.

Using a variety of teaching methods helps with engagement, and ensures information is retained. Online cyber security training courses are up-to-date, cost-effective, and can be taken as and when it suits the business and the employees.

Go1 has an extensive library of cyber security awareness courses

The importance of cyber security awareness training cannot be understated. Would your teams benefit from online training? Go1 has a range of cyber security training courses available right now. For more information, book a demo with a member of our team today.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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