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The Importance of Security Awareness Training & 12 Hot Topics

It's critical that you quickly identify the essential security awareness training topics for 2022 and how to quickly educate your workforce.
It’s critical that you quickly identify the essential security awareness training topics for 2022 and how to quickly educate your workforce.

It’s critical that you quickly identify essential security awareness training topics and how to quickly educate your workforce.

Managing staff cyber risk is critical to avoiding user-related data breaches and demonstrating regulatory compliance. A strong HRM program includes continual security awareness training that teaches end-users how to recognize and resist modern risks. In addition, it teaches best practices for staying secure.

However, starting these training classes raises certain challenges. One of these is what security awareness training subjects to include. Here are the top employee cyber security awareness training topics.

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1. Phishing Awareness

This is still one of the most efficient cybercrime methods. Phishing assaults doubled in 2020 and continues to rise. Furthermore, remote work makes it tougher for organizations to protect their users.

However, why is phishing still a problem in 2023?

One key reason is the sophistication of these attacks. For example, a business email compromise attack combines prior research on a specific individual like a company’s senior executive. With this, they can develop an assault that looks very legitimate.

With more sophisticated assaults and the prevalent notion that phishing is easy to spot, it’s no surprise that many firms will face a phishing-related breach. Employees, therefore, require regular training on how to recognize contemporary phishing attacks and how to report them as soon as they suspect they’ve been targeted.

2. Awareness of Removeable Media Vulnerability

Removable media is a portable storage device that allows users to copy data from one device to another. Malware-infected USB drives might be left for users to discover when they plug them in.

Researchers dumped approximately 300 USB sticks on the UIUC campus. 98 percent were picked up! Also, 45 percent of these drives were not only picked up but the files found were opened.

Your staff must be aware of the risks of removable media and how to use these gadgets safely and responsibly. There are many reasons why a corporation may want to employ removable media. However, like any technology, there are risks.

Therefore, your staff must protect the data on these devices as well as the devices themselves. All data, personal or business, has value.

3. Security and Authentication

Password security is a fairly easy yet frequently forgotten feature of organizational security.

Malicious actors often guess common passwords to get access to your accounts. Once stolen, this data can be made public or sold on the dark web.

Using various passwords makes it difficult for hackers to access several accounts. Other measures, such as two-factor authentication, add extra layers of protection for the account.

4. Physical Safety Awareness

If you keep your passwords on sticky notes on your desk, it’s time to toss them.

Though many attacks are likely to be digital, protecting sensitive physical documents is critical to your company’s security system. Furthermore, unattended papers, computers, and passwords pose a security concern.

5. Secure Mobile Devices

The evolving IT ecosystem has enabled more flexible working settings. However, it also allows more sophisticated security attacks.

In 2024, user-device responsibility will continue to be an increasingly important part of training. This is especially true for traveling or remote professionals. Malicious mobile apps have raised the likelihood of mobile phones harboring malware, posing a security issue.

Online courses for mobile device workers can help staff avoid threats without costly security measures. If a mobile device is lost or stolen, sensitive data should be encrypted, password-protected, or biometrically authenticated.

Employees who operate on their own devices must be trained in personal device safety. In addition, workers should have to sign a mobile security policy.

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6. Remote Work Security Awareness

Remote working can benefit both employers and people. It can increase productivity and improve work-life balance.

However, this trend can lead to more security breaches. Therefore, personal gadgets for work should have default encryption and antivirus software.

7. Free WiFi Security Awareness

Some employees who work remotely, or work on the go may need extra training on how to use public Wi-Fi properly.

Fake public Wi-Fi networks, sometimes lurking in coffee shops, expose users to non-secure public servers. Therefore, educate your users on safe public Wi-Fi usage. In addition, let them know about typical scam warning flags. This will raise company knowledge and reduce risk.

8. Cloud Security

Cloud computing has changed the way businesses store and access data. Despite the fact that you store significant volumes of private data offsite, hacking is still a possibility.

Many large corporations are focusing on data security. However, picking the proper cloud service provider may make data storage much safer and more cost-effective.

9. Social Media Awareness

We all post pictures of our events, holidays, and jobs on social media. However, oversharing might expose important information that can allow a hostile actor to pose as a trusted source through social engineering.

Therefore, educating employees on how to maintain their social media privacy settings. In addition, teach them how to avoid the transmission of company information. This will lessen the chance of hackers gaining leverage.

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10. Internet and Email

Simple or repetitive emails for several accounts may have exposed some employees to data breaches.

One survey indicated that 59% of users reuse passwords across accounts. If one account is open, a hacker can use the password to access all of the user’s accounts. This can include work and social media accounts.

Many websites provide free software contaminated with viruses. Downloading software from reliable sources is the safest method to secure your computer.

11. Awareness of Social Engineering

Social engineering is a method to earn employee trust by delivering lucrative incentives or impersonating others. To address these dangers, teach employees basic social engineering strategies.

Private information can be accidentally given to bad actors by appearing as a desirable client or by offering incentives. Increasing employee knowledge of impersonation threats is crucial to lowering social engineering risk.

12. Home Security

Malicious actors do not go away when you leave the office. Malware downloaded on personal devices can harm the company’s network if, for example, log-in credentials are compromised.

A recent analysis found that phishing campaigns targeting Dropbox had a 13.6 percent click-through rate. You can reduce this risk by educating employees and distributing encrypted material. Authenticating downloads also helps.


Building a Cyber-Savvy Workforce

‍Photo by geralt on Pixabay

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and prevalent. It is no longer enough for organizations to solely rely on advanced technological solutions to protect their sensitive data. They must also invest in cultivating a cyber-savvy workforce that can identify and mitigate potential risks. This is where security awareness training plays a crucial role. By equipping employees with the knowledge and skills to recognize and respond to cyber threats, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

Understanding Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training is a proactive strategy employed by IT and security professionals to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices. Its primary goal is to raise awareness about the potential risks associated with using technology and to foster a culture of vigilance and responsibility among employees. By providing regular training sessions, organizations can empower their workforce to become the first line of defense against cyber threats.

The Role of Employees in Cybersecurity

Research has shown that human error contributes to more than 90% of security breaches. Employees, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can become unwitting accomplices to cybercriminals. This underscores the critical need for comprehensive security awareness training programs. When employees are well-versed in cybersecurity principles, they can actively contribute to safeguarding the organization’s sensitive information and assets.

The Benefits of Security Awareness Training

Implementing an effective security awareness training program offers numerous benefits to organizations, including:

  1. Risk Reduction: By educating employees about potential cyber threats and how to avoid them, organizations can significantly minimize the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
  2. Protection of Sensitive Information: When employees are trained to handle sensitive information securely, the likelihood of accidental data leaks or unauthorized disclosures decreases significantly.
  3. Compliance with Regulations: Many industries have stringent data protection regulations in place. Security awareness training ensures that employees understand and adhere to these requirements, reducing the organization’s exposure to legal and regulatory risks.
  4. Improved Incident Response: In the event of a security incident, employees who have undergone security awareness training are better equipped to recognize and report suspicious activities promptly, enabling faster incident response and mitigation.

Best Practices for Implementing Security Awareness Training Programs

Developing an effective security awareness training program requires careful planning and consideration of best practices. Here are some key principles to guide organizations in building a successful program:

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1. Tailor the Program to Your Organization

Every organization has unique security needs and risks. It is essential to tailor the training program to address these specific requirements. Consider the industry, size, and technological environment of your organization when designing the curriculum and selecting training materials.

2. Promote a Positive Tone

The success of a security awareness training program hinges on how it is perceived by employees. Frame the program with a positive tone, emphasizing that it is designed to protect the organization and its employees. Avoid creating an adversarial atmosphere that may breed resentment or resistance.

3. Engage Employees with Interactive Training

Traditional training methods that involve lengthy presentations or lectures are often ineffective. Instead, opt for interactive training formats that actively engage employees, such as videos, quizzes, and gamified learning platforms. This approach promotes better retention of information and encourages active participation.

4. Reinforce Desired Behaviors

Security awareness training should not be a one-time event. Regularly reinforce desired behaviors through ongoing training sessions and reminders. This repetition helps employees internalize cybersecurity best practices and develop long-term habits.

5. Provide Realistic Simulations

Simulated phishing attacks and other realistic scenarios can be powerful tools for reinforcing security awareness. Conducting periodic phishing tests can help employees recognize and respond appropriately to suspicious emails, reducing the risk of falling victim to phishing scams.

6. Measure and Improve

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your security awareness training program by measuring employee knowledge and behavior changes. Use metrics such as completion rates, phishing test results, and incident reporting to identify areas for improvement and tailor future training sessions accordingly.

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7. Foster a Culture of Security

Security awareness should not be limited to training sessions alone. Promote a culture of security throughout the organization by encouraging open communication, providing ongoing support, and recognizing and rewarding employees who demonstrate exemplary cybersecurity practices.

Mimecast’s Approach to Security Awareness Training

Mimecast offers a comprehensive security awareness training program designed to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices. Their program combines expert content, simple administration, and a focus on engaging employees to create a cyber-savvy workforce.

Expert Content

Mimecast’s training content is developed by professionals with extensive experience in cybersecurity, including former law enforcement, military, and CISOs. The content is highly engaging, incorporating elements from the entertainment industry to make learning enjoyable and memorable.

Simple Administration

Mimecast’s cloud-based platform, Mime|OS, makes it easy to manage policies, users, and training modules within a single console. Administrators can customize training materials, schedule phishing tests, and track employee progress effortlessly.

Components of Mimecast’s Training Program

Mimecast’s security awareness training program includes a variety of components to ensure comprehensive coverage:

  1. Videos: Mimecast offers highly entertaining and informative video-based training modules. Each video focuses on a specific security threat and provides practical guidance on how employees can respond effectively.
  2. Real-World Testing: By conducting pre and post-training assessments, Mimecast measures employee knowledge and behavior changes. Regular phishing tests help evaluate employees’ ability to identify and respond to simulated attacks.
  3. Risk Scoring: Mimecast assigns risk scores to employees based on their performance in training and their position within the organization. This allows targeted training resources to be allocated to individuals who require additional support.
  4. Customer Mediation: Mimecast provides personalized training resources to employees based on their individual profiles, ensuring that the training is tailored to their specific needs and areas of improvement.

Critical Security Awareness Training Topics

Mimecast’s training program covers a wide range of essential cybersecurity topics. Some of the key areas addressed include:

  1. Phishing Awareness: Training employees to identify and respond to phishing emails, which are one of the most common methods used by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to systems.
  2. Password Security: Educating employees on the importance of using strong and unique passwords, as well as implementing additional authentication measures like two-factor authentication.
  3. Privacy Issues: Empowering employees to protect sensitive data, both of the organization and its customers, from unauthorized access or disclosure.
  4. Compliance: Ensuring employees understand and comply with relevant data protection regulations such as HIPAA, PCI, and GDPR.
  5. Insider Threats: Training employees to recognize and report potential insider threats, which can come from within the organization itself.
  6. CEO/Wire Fraud: Educating employees about the risks of impersonation attacks targeting high-level executives and providing guidance on how to verify requests for sensitive information or financial transactions.
  7. Data Protection: Highlighting the importance of safeguarding data in transit and teaching employees how to protect it effectively.
  8. Office Hygiene: Promoting good physical security practices, such as proper document disposal and securing workstations, to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

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Investing in security awareness training is a crucial step towards building a cyber-savvy workforce and mitigating the risks associated with cyber threats. By engaging employees, reinforcing desired behaviors, and providing ongoing support, organizations can create a culture of security and empower their workforce to become effective guardians of sensitive information. Mimecast’s comprehensive training program offers expert content, simple administration, and a focus on engaging employees, making it a valuable tool in the fight against cybercrime. Embrace security awareness training and ensure the protection of your organization’s data and reputation in an increasingly interconnected world.


Q&A Section:

1. Why is security awareness training important for organizations? Security awareness training plays a critical role in educating employees about potential cyber threats and best practices to mitigate these risks. It empowers the workforce to recognize, respond to, and prevent security incidents, thereby reducing the organization’s vulnerability to data breaches and other cyber attacks.

2. How does security awareness training benefit organizations? Implementing effective security awareness training offers several benefits, including a significant reduction in the risk of data breaches, protection of sensitive information, compliance with regulations, improved incident response, and fostering a culture of security within the organization.

3. What are the key topics covered in security awareness training programs? Security awareness training covers a range of essential topics, such as phishing awareness, password security, data protection, insider threats, compliance with regulations, CEO/wire fraud, privacy issues, office hygiene, and more. These topics aim to equip employees with the knowledge and skills to address various cybersecurity challenges.

4. How can organizations ensure the effectiveness of their security awareness training programs? To ensure the effectiveness of security awareness training, organizations should tailor the program to their specific needs, promote a positive tone, engage employees with interactive training, reinforce desired behaviors through ongoing sessions, provide realistic simulations, measure progress, and foster a culture of security throughout the organization.

5. What is Mimecast’s approach to security awareness training, and what does their program entail? Mimecast offers a comprehensive security awareness training program designed to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices. Their program includes expert content developed by cybersecurity professionals, simple administration through a cloud-based platform, video-based training modules, real-world testing through phishing simulations, risk scoring, customer mediation, and coverage of critical topics like phishing awareness, password security, compliance, and more.

6. How does security awareness training contribute to building a cyber-savvy workforce? Security awareness training empowers employees to become the first line of defense against cyber threats. By educating them about potential risks, providing practical guidance, and fostering a culture of vigilance, organizations can cultivate a workforce that actively contributes to safeguarding sensitive information and assets from cyber attacks.

7. What role do employees play in cybersecurity, and why is their involvement crucial? Employees play a crucial role in cybersecurity as human error contributes to a significant portion of security breaches. Their involvement is vital because they can either unintentionally or intentionally become vulnerable points for cybercriminals. Through proper training, employees can actively contribute to mitigating risks and protecting the organization’s data.

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