Are Your Cybersecurity Awareness Programs Perfect?

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Today the biggest asset for any organization is their data & as we move towards a more cyber-world, it keeps becoming more & more important. But as much as data is a resource, it is always under threat of various cybercrimes. In the year 2005 alone, over 136 data breaches were reported & over 4500 data breaches have been recognized since then. 

Though organizations are complying with increasingly stringent methods to safeguard data, is it enough? The most dangerous data breaches are often caused due to the negligence of the internal staff of organizations.  Though their intentions aren’t malicious, they become bait to the malevolent intent of cybercriminals. 

To avoid cybercrimes, organizations rely on cybersecurity awareness programs to educate their employees. These programs conducted by security professionals form the basis for better cybersecurity practices in the organization to safeguard data.

data breach

Why are cybersecurity awareness programs important?

Let’s begin with understanding just how necessary it is to have a Cybersecurity Awareness Program for your organization. Do you know that 24% of all data breaches are caused due to human error? Not just that, when it comes to cybersecurity, employees can actually prove to be the biggest liability for organizations.

cybersecurity awareness

Though employees don’t intentionally become a reason for the breach, what often causes it is their ignorance on the matter. When they aren’t completely aware of how simply an email can become a cause for the breach or how they could’ve prevented it from happening, they become a security risk for the organization. This is where security awareness comes in. With proper knowledge, many such scenarios could be avoided. More reasons as to why your organization needs a security awareness program are as given.

A breach is just a click away

In 2016, Snapchat suffered a data breach that put the payroll data of around 700 of their current & former employees at risk. How it happened was that a scammer sent a phishing email to their payroll department pretending to be their CEO Evan Spiegel asking for payroll data. Due to the negligence of the payroll department, a single email led to a huge breach. That’s just one example, data breaches happen every 39 seconds & more often than not, a negligent employee becomes the reason. This can be avoided by giving employees ample information about cybersecurity.

Don’t get phished

Phishing is probably one of the most common ways for cyber criminals to gain access to confidential & sensitive data. This usually works with a fraudulent email being sent under the shroud of a reputed name as bait. Today almost 50% of the complete internet population receives a phishing email every day. And due to lack of knowledge, around 97% of them are unaware of how to identify a phishing email. This results in every 1 in 25 people actually clicking on these emails & risking their data. Not only are these statistics scary, what they essentially prove is that your organization’s data is forever at risk; unless you thoroughly educate & guide your employees about the same.

Knowledge is power

When you invest in cybersecurity efforts like security awareness programs, you take a step towards decreasing the risk of cybercrime. In fact, security-related risks can be reduced by 70% when organizations invest in cybersecurity training & awareness programs. Also, according to Ponemon, even the least effective training program has a 7-fold return on investment, taking into account the loss of productivity caused due to the lack of productivity during training. 

Setting up a cybersecurity awareness program

When setting up a Security Awareness Program, there are certain essential factors to be taken into account. These factors contribute to the overall success of these programs, determining the effect they bring in the long run. 

Overall participation

Not everyone that takes part in these programs needs to belong to the technical department of the organization. Phishing attacks can happen at any & all levels of the organization & hence employees from all departments should be subjected to awareness programs.

Content

Content plays a critical role in such awareness programs. Data & insights need to be presented to the employees in an engaging way to be relevant to everyone. Since those from non-technical backgrounds might find certain information hard to grasp, it is the trainer’s role to make all information easily understandable. 

Communication

These programs need to be communicative & interactive for the entire staff. Also, cybersecurity discussions need to become a part of the common conversations across the organization & surpass the threshold of training. For this to happen, employees in authority can rely on company-wide emails & regular discussions on the subject.

Who should you be hiring for this program?

After establishing the need for security awareness programs for the welfare of your organization, the next factor is hiring the right personnel for the job. Though the traditional mindset biases towards candidates from security backgrounds, it is important for the recruiters to take into consideration other factors & skills as well when recruiting trainers. 

Candidates from a security background might be adept in the subject, but they may often lack skills like persuasiveness, creativity & leadership that prove detrimental in bringing about organization-wide change. A simple tip here would be to hire candidates for attributes & later inculcate requisite skills for awareness programs. When hiring, looking for the following factors can help recruiters hire the best candidates. 

Background in learning & development

Recruiting talent from learning & development backgrounds will help recruiters enhance the effectiveness of the program. Such individuals are adept in understanding various learning styles, behaviour management and modification techniques. They must also have strong project management skills to smoothly lead the awareness program. The recruiters must take efforts to measure the program effectiveness skills that these candidates promise. 

Experience in marketing & communication

Candidates with experience in Marketing & Communication have an upper-hand when it comes to leading. They have useful skills like copywriting, content management, campaign management, organizational management & more. They can easily & proactively help the employees upskill in security awareness by providing information in an engaging manner. 

Skills & competencies

Though security skills are the basis for recruiting for the awareness mentors roles, make sure the candidates bring to the table skills including strong communication & coordination skills, project management skills, risk management & cybersecurity and the practical knowledge of different message distribution techniques. Besides this, they can only be deemed competent for the role if they are –

  • Flexible & adaptable to changing environments
  • Aware of internal & external dynamics with business understanding
  • Focus-driven & result oriented to generate best results
  • Collaborative with members in pursuit of success.

Conclusion

Security Awareness Programs should be a critical component in every organization’s efforts to safeguard their data. Through these programs, their employees can expand their knowledge of the subject & thus contribute to preventing cybercrimes.

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