Proactive Cybersecurity

How to Improve Cyber Security Awareness

The importance of awareness and education when it comes to cyber security and how your business can improve it amongst its employees


Cyber security needs to be prioritised by every business regardless of size, type or industry, cybercrime has been on a rapid rise over the past few years. During the 2020-2021 financial year, the Australian Cybersecurity Center (ACSC) received over 67500 reports of cyber attacks from Australian businesses, an increase of nearly 13% compared to the prior period. These numbers equate to the ACSC receiving one report every eight minutes, whereas they received one every ten minutes the previous financial year.  

 

Why have cyber attacks increased? 

During the 2020-2021 financial year, malicious actors also took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased the vulnerability of businesses and individuals. During the pandemic business were forced to push the boundaries of their corporate networks, as employees were forced to adopt remote working solutions, which was detrimental to information security. Malicious hackers took advantage of the population’s desire for information and resources on the pandemic during this period, with attackers adopting COVID-19 themed phishing campaigns, superannuation scams and online shopping scams. 

The way we use technology in our daily lives is constantly evolving, which means that the significance of cyber threats is also increasing. As networks become more complex, our ability to defend ourselves from cyber threats will also become more difficult. Malicious actors will continue to take advantage of tried and tested methods to compromise individuals, while also adopting new technologies to make their attacks even more efficient and effective e.g. the use of automated tools and techniques to target a large group of people at once. 

 

What is Cybersecurity Awareness?

It is every employee's responsibility to uphold the information security of an organisation, regardless of their role or responsibility, employees need to protect themselves and the organisation they work for from potential cyber-attacks or breaches. Cybersecurity awareness refers to building mindfulness around cybersecurity best practices amongst employees during their day to day operations.

Cybersecurity awareness is built through the use of tools, resources and training to deliver knowledge on how to play your part in upholding information security.  Cybersecurity awareness is built by businesses over time but needs to be routinely updated to keep up with emerging security threats. 

 

The Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness

Cybersecurity awareness plays an important role in defending against cyber attacks. Every business needs to prioritise increasing cybersecurity awareness to ensure that employees are on top of their cyber hygiene. According to an IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report, human error results in 95% of cybersecurity incidents, human error refers to unintentional actions or a lack of action that eventuates in a security incident or breach to occur or spread. 

Employees need to know what the prevalent cyber threats are, what their impact can be on a business and how to identify and proactively stop them. If employees are armed with the appropriate tools and knowledge to identify signs of a security incident before they happen, they can prevent a possible data breach that can result in significant damage to a business’s operations, finances and reputation.

 

Below are seven key ways businesses can improve cybersecurity awareness amongst their employees: 

 

1. Make cybersecurity a part of onboarding 

 

An easy way to establish cybersecurity as a high priority amongst employees is to make it a part of their onboarding process. By educating employees on their roles and responsibilities when it comes to upholding information security, businesses can build a robust defence against cyber threats. However it is important to note that cybersecurity training shouldn’t end once onboarding is complete, regular promotion of cybersecurity needs to be part of your business’s strategy to build awareness, this brings us to the next point. 

 

2. Conduct regular cybersecurity training 

 

It isn’t just the IT department’s responsibility to maintain cybersecurity, every employee regardless of their position needs to be made aware of the latest cyber threats, how to recognise them and how to prevent them. Well trained employees play a crucial role in every effective cybersecurity strategy. A thorough security awareness training program will boost overall awareness surrounding cybersecurity and give employees the confidence and knowledge needed to recognise cyber threats, appropriately respond to prevent them, as well as the process of escalation. 

However, It is important to ensure that cybersecurity training isn’t a one-off practice and is regularly conducted. Doing this reinforces the importance of cybersecurity and builds a security-aware culture. Given that employees are the first line of defence when it comes to cyber attacks, having them well trained can greatly boost your organisation’s defences. 

 

3. Utilise cybersecurity drills 

 

A cyber drill is a great way to test an organisation’s defences, specifically their employee's ability to respond quickly to a potential threat in a simulated environment. Cyber drills are simulated cyber attacks typically run by an internal or external team, that tests a business’s security measures. Different types of drills challenge a different set of employees and skills, for example, a phishing simulation, simulates a phishing attack, to test employees on their alertness when it comes to identifying and avoiding phishing scams. Based on how many employees fell for the simulated phishing attack, an organisation can determine whether more attention needs to be given to phishing during the next cybersecurity training awareness session, or whether their resources can be spent strengthening awareness surrounding other aspects of cybersecurity. 

 

4. Implement robust cybersecurity policies and procedures

 

Ensuring that robust cybersecurity policies and procedures are in place, is an effective method of improving cybersecurity awareness. A cybersecurity policy is a document that outlines each employee’s responsibilities for protecting the information security of a business. A cybersecurity policy defines the standards of behaviour for activities such as; social media use; appropriate exchange of sensitive information via email; usage of the internet; accessing work applications when working remotely; and password management. 

By defining and promoting what the best practice should be for activities like the above and outlining what the impact and consequence can be if not followed, businesses can effectively build awareness around cybersecurity. 




5. Make cybersecurity training programs engaging 

 

Implementing regular cybersecurity training programs can be made more effective by ensuring that the content is engaging. Repetitive training programs that are entirely made up of written content or slides can desensitise employees to the importance of cybersecurity. There are several ways to make these programs more engaging, for example, including video content, gamifying learning through interactive activities/competitions amongst employees, or a reward system for identifying threats successfully can greatly increase the effectiveness of cybersecurity training programs hence improving cybersecurity awareness. 

 

6. Ensure that senior management promotes cybersecurity 

 

Senior-level management within a business must model appropriate cybersecurity hygiene. By displaying behaviour that is expected from employees, leadership can set the tone and standard for the whole company, helping instil a culture of cybersecurity awareness. 

 

7. Ensure training is targeted and easy to consume

 

When informing employees about current and emerging cyber threats, it is important to ensure that they are delivered to employees who will be affected, instead of the entire cohort. Sending irrelevant and confusing details about cyber threats can be counterproductive in building awareness surrounding cybersecurity. In addition, it is important to ensure that communications are simple, easy to understand and concise. Not every employee is an IT expert, avoiding the use of technical jargon, can make cybersecurity training more effective. 

 

How can StickmanCyber help? 

 

Building cybersecurity awareness with a tight budget is a problem many small to medium businesses face. Let our team of cybersecurity experts help you design & launch effective cybersecurity training for your team. StickmanCyber's training and awareness programs are designed to help your teams understand their role in strengthening your cybersecurity posture. We outline cyber etiquette and best practices to build safe processes and work habits within your organisations. We also help employees understand their responsibilities and practical tips to boost data security.

Contact StickmanCyber today to learn more about our Employee Training programs.

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