Modern businesses face critical risks from cyber security threats such as phishing, malware and ransomware. Organizations must train employees to detect, respond, manage, and thwart cyber attacks. Cybersecurity awareness training plays a critical role in building a resilient enterprise security infrastructure.
Non-technical employees are often the first line of defense for organizations looking to thwart cyber security breaches. Yet, security training is often exclusively confined to Information Technology staff. That cannot stand in a world where phishing schemes lead to costly ransomware and malware breaches to businesses of all sizes. Companies need to develop cyber security awareness programs that train employees across the organization to spot phishing schemes and other common attack vectors.
Common Cyber Attacks that Exploit Human Vulnerabilities
When it comes to enterprise security, “people” are the most vulnerable aspect of the people, process, and technology triad. Here are some of the common tactics used by malicious actors to find security vulnerabilities, access an organization's network and exploit weaknesses.
- Phishing: For years, phishing has remained the primary source of access into an organization's critical information assets. Phishing is the process of luring unsuspecting employees or individuals to open emails, download malicious attachments, or click on embedded links that take them to dubious websites. It provides the malicious actor with an opportunity to access secure processes and introduce malicious software (also known as malware) into an organization's network.
The annual number of data breaches and exposed records in the United States from 2005 to 1st half 2020 (in millions)
- Ransomware: Ransomware occurs when a cyber criminal accesses a network and locks out legitimate users often through phishing emails. These ransomware attacks encrypt an organization's data then request ransom in exchange for a key that unecrypts the network.
- Vishing: Malicious actors also resort to other modes of attack, like Voice Phishing (Vishing). The employees receive a malicious voice call on their mobile or on the desk phone to lure them into divulging personal, sensitive, and confidential information.
- Business Email Compromise (BEC): BEC is an attack vector growing in popularity. Here, an attacker infiltrates an intruder’s email account and impersonates senior executives to defraud employees, partners, suppliers, and customers.
Understanding The Cyber Risks That Are Mitigated By Well-trained Employees
Cyber culture starts with educated employees that know how to spot scams. Though no one can guarantee the elimination of cyber risks entirely, well-trained employees can help reduce phishing attacks and other attacks. Here’s how to build a strong cyber security culture.
- Strengthening the Vulnerable End Points: Hourly and front-desk employees are easily exploited vulnerabilities within large organizations. Transient staff tend to receive less cyber security training than full-time employees and therefore are less aware of common ways to spot phishing schemes.
- Cyber Resiliency: Strong Incident Response IT teams should focus on educating employees on the most common security threat’s they’ll face. Employees need to understand that they are the most vulnerable of all targets. Tr tell-tale signs of phishing attempts, like an unsolicited email, an email message with suspicious attachments and spurious links, or a poorly framed email message with grammatical and syntax errors.
The ideal way to deal with such email messages is to report them to the IT team at the earliest instance without opening them. Reporting such emails is a crucial aspect of incident response.
- Building A Cyber Aware Organizational Culture: Cyber security awareness begins with eduation and training. Required cyber security training, an open communication culture and gamification can help build a more knowledgable organization.
- More Vigilant Employees Can Thwart An 'Attempt' Before It Becomes An Attack: Cyber criminals will continue finding new ways to attack organization networks. It is imperative for employees and businesses to remain vigilant at all times. One way of sustaining employee alertness is conducting phishing simulation exercises that attempt to perform phishing on its employees. If they fall for the bait, it means that more work has to be done. On the other hand, if employees are alert, they can become an asset to the organization and help thwart real attacks when they surface.
Building a Cyber Security Awareness Culture
Educating employees to recognize cyber threats will have a lasting impact on your organization’s first line of defense. Cybersecurity awareness training does just that with meaningful courses on the best practices of recognizing phishing emails. A well-trained employee can help identify a security threat the moment it pops up, thereby protecting the organization's overall interests. When employees can recognize phishing emails, your organization may have a leg up on cyber criminals.