Information security (IS) courses are needed not only for IS department employees and not even only for certain employees of a company but for everyone. Information security training in today's world, where virtually all areas of life have been digitized, should be on par with fire safety and other fundamental rules that employees are required to observe in the workplace.
Even the most ordinary employee today has access to corporate email or other means of communication within the company, as well as internal information systems and archives. If they do not know the basic rules of cyber hygiene or do not update them in a timely manner, they can become a springboard for attackers to access sensitive company data.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of cyber hygiene in the enterprise, why this knowledge needs to be updated, the pros and cons of in-house and third-party cyber security courses, and what should be included in a cyber hygiene course.
Why cyber hygiene training matters
Almost every aspect of modern business operations has been transformed by the digital revolution. From communication to data storage, the modes have shifted from tangible to virtual platforms. This transition has been a boon in many ways. However, the virtual world, much like its physical counterpart, is not devoid of threats.
Previously, threats were physically visible, like a fire, necessitating measures like fire drills. Today, threats are more intangible, often lurking behind an innocent-looking email or website link. This paradigm shift means that cyber safety has become as crucial as any other workplace safety protocol. It is here that cyber hygiene courses play a significant role.
Most employees, regardless of their designation or role, interface with digital tools like emails, messaging platforms, and digital databases. This widespread access to digital tools, while indispensable, poses a significant risk. If employees are not equipped with basic cyber hygiene knowledge, even unintentional actions can expose the entire organization to threats.
A deep dive into the essentials of cyber hygiene training
Every company has a diverse set of employees, from those in HR and marketing to IT professionals, legal experts, and database managers. While their roles vary, their interaction with the company's IT infrastructure is common, necessitating cyber hygiene training for all in the following categories:
Awareness of threats. The digital realm has a vast array of threats, from phishing attacks to malware and deceptive social engineering tactics. Comprehensive training ensures employees can identify these threats, mitigating potential risks.
Password protocols. A strong password can often be the first line of defense against cyber-attacks. Employees need guidance on creating robust passwords and the benefits of two-factor authentication.
Data protection. Data is often referred to as the 'new oil.' In a business context, data can include everything from company secrets to customer details. Understanding the importance of data and the protocols for its protection is paramount.
Incident management. Not every threat can be prevented. However, swift action can often limit the damage. Employees should be trained to recognize unusual activities and report them promptly.
The in-house vs. third-party training dilemma
Recognizing the need for training is only the beginning. The subsequent challenge is determining the optimal delivery method. The question arises: should businesses lean on their established in-house IT teams, or would it be wiser to seek the expertise of external professionals?
When considering the Advantages of Engaging External Specialists, several factors stand out:
Proficiency. Firms in the cybersecurity domain naturally offer a reservoir of specialized knowledge. Their immersion in the field ensures that they bring a high degree of expertise to the table.
Bespoke solutions. Each business has its nuances. Recognizing this, external specialists are adept at fashioning strategies that are uniquely tailored, focusing on a company's specific requirements and vulnerabilities tied to their industry.
State-of-the-art tools. Another compelling reason to consider them is their familiarity with the latest in the cybersecurity landscape. These experts have their fingers on the pulse, utilizing cutting-edge tools and being aware of evolving threat scenarios. This ensures training remains pertinent and forward-thinking.
Yet, it's essential to balance these benefits with potential drawbacks. Among the challenges of relying on external expertise are the costs involved, which can stretch the budget, especially for larger organizations. There's also the concern that an external perspective might miss nuances inherent to a company's internal processes and culture.
On the other hand, the Benefits of Internal Training are manifold:
Personalization. An internal approach offers a distinct advantage in its adaptability. Companies can sculpt the training, ensuring it's laser-focused on their infrastructure and unique challenges.
Autonomy. Having in-house training offers an unparalleled level of control. Every stage, from conception to delivery, remains under the company's purview.
The economic perspective. While the outset might require considerable investment, the long-term financial implications of in-house training can often skew towards being more economical.
Yet, as with all strategies, there are inherent challenges to consider. Relying solely on in-house capabilities can sometimes lead to gaps in expertise. Limited resources might also become a constraint, and the time commitment to design and implement robust training modules shouldn't be underestimated.
Ensuring periodic refreshers
Experts recommend holding awareness courses at least once a year to update employees' knowledge and skills. Whenever new technologies are introduced or new security threats emerge, separate training should be conducted. This is to ensure that knowledge is up-to-date and to avoid compromising the effectiveness of the company's defenses.
Employees who have already taken a full course do not need to retake the same course every year. Testing can be done to determine if the employee has lost knowledge, as well as new training on updates and new attack techniques. For those employees who have forgotten some of the topics and have difficulty with them, a shortened version of the training can be scheduled. Also, knowledge should be updated after a cyber incident and a case study should be conducted.
The bottom line
Cybersecurity today has become an important part of human security. While in the past it was more common to steal money in the underground or on the street, today it is increasingly being done online. Whereas in the past, attackers only had physical opportunities to harm a business, today any company can be attacked online.
Statistically, the most common cause of a cyberattack is human error. That's why employee cyber hygiene training is the foundation of all the basics in a company's information security. No matter how advanced anti-viruses are installed, no matter how professional the IS department is, one small mistake by an ordinary manager and the company's database is in the hands of attackers or a malicious program enters the company's network.
Regular sessions on cyber security not only prevent such incidents but can also help raise threat awareness and strengthen the security culture of an organization.