Cyber threats are on a spike both in volume and complexity, a trend that is pushing business owners and leaders to go beyond tools and involve their employees. There is no better way to involve employees than through cyber security awareness training. After all, the investment you have made on cyber security is only as good as the level of awareness within your organization.
The emphasis on security awareness training has been amplified by studies such as the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report which shows that human error is responsible for a shocking 95% of data compromises across the organizations surveyed. The report also indicates that Cybersecurity is actually among the top 10 global risks. This statistic alone should be enough to convince you to embrace cyber security awareness training. And as we'll find out in the rest of this article, the benefits of cyber security training make for a collective investment that will deliver a worthy ROI for your business.
What is security awareness training?
Security awareness training, or cyber security awareness training, is a form of security training that educates employees about the various types of cyber threats that they can face in their day-to-day lives and work, as well as providing guidelines on how to protect themselves from these threats.
This type of training is aimed at protecting organizations from cyber attacks by increasing employee understanding of the user risks associated with cyber threats. Employees who have received cyber security awareness training are often better equipped to protect themselves and their organizations.
The top 9 benefits of security awareness training
So, what is the importance of security awareness training? Well, no organization is immune to cyber attacks, and none can ever achieve 100% protection. But through consistent security awareness training, you will drastically improve your security posture and reduce the consequences of attacks whenever they strike. The benefits are wide and cut across different spheres, but here are the top 10 benefits of cyber security awareness training:
1. Security awareness nurtures a culture of security
Perhaps the most obvious importance of security awareness training is that it builds a culture of security. A culture of security is one in which the importance of cyber security awareness is understood and valued by everyone in the organization. When security awareness training for employees is executed properly, they learn about the importance of protecting company data, protecting themselves and others, and reporting any suspicious behavior. This training helps employees to understand why security is important, and how they can help to maintain a secure environment.
A culture of security is important for any organization, as it helps to create a mindset where employees are more likely to take security seriously. Security awareness training can also help to create a sense of ownership over the security of the organization, as employees feel like they are a part of something bigger.
Here are some tips to help you nurture a culture of security in your company;
- Make sure everyone in your company is aware of the importance of security. This includes executives, managers, and employees at all levels.
- Implement cybersecurity awareness training that is relevant to your employees' roles and responsibilities.
- Enforce a strong security posture throughout your organization. This includes using strong passwords, encrypting data, and updating software regularly.
- Promote a culture of accountability and responsibility. Each employee should be held accountable for their actions and mistakes, and should be encouraged to report any suspicious activity or security incidents.
- Create a positive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing cybersecurity issues. This will help to foster a culture of collaboration and information sharing, which is essential for keeping your company safe from cyber threats.
2. Reduces chances of threats
Reducing chances of threats targeting your business is actually the ultimate goal of security awareness training. After everything is said and done, the basic reason you are offering awareness training in your organization is so that you can reduce the chances of your business being attacked by cyber criminals. Some of the most rampant threats these days are in the form of cloud threats as more and more businesses migrate to cloud computing infrastructure. So by training your employees about common threats and how to identify them, you’ll be making huge steps towards preventing attacks including data theft and other malicious activities.
The training achieves this by inculcating the right habits. It’s one thing to take employees through training materials. But the real task lies in ensuring that the training gets them to a level where they make security awareness part of their habits. The training should make them perceive security as part of their well-being. When we begin to view something as part of our well being, we make it part of our habits. Use simulations to drive the point home.
3. Saves time and money
Think about it – when employees are trained in security awareness, they're less likely to make costly mistakes that can easily be avoided. By investing in security awareness training, you're not only protecting your company's data and assets, but you're also saving time and money in the long run.
For example, your company will reduce the number of IT support tickets. If employees are properly trained in how to detect and ignore cyber threat prompts such as malicious emails and links, they will be less likely to call the IT department for help with minor problems.
When employees are thoroughly aware, they are less likely to click on malicious links or open malicious attachments, which can help reduce the risk of a data breach. Data breaches can be costly for organizations. In fact, according to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach report, the average total cost of a data breach globally reached $4.24m in 2021.
4. Employees can better protect their personal information
Many businesses focus on business information but forget that helping employees to also protect their personal information is equally critical. You might wonder why you should be concerned with ensuring your employees’ personal information is protected. Imagine if your employees had their personal data compromised or stolen. Think about the emotional distraught this would have on them and how it will affect their work. When it comes to safeguarding their personal information, many employees simply don't know where to start. The negative effect on their productivity will be swift and immensely damaging. But security awareness comes in to avoid this.
Security awareness training can help employees protect their personal information by teaching them how to identify phishing scams, keep their personal passwords safe, and more. So if you're looking for a way to help your employees protect their personal information, consider investing in security awareness training that not only focuses on the company information but also on the security of the employees’ personal information.
The consequences of identity theft can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. It can take months or even years to recover from, and in fact this damage can be irreparable. Do whatever you can to ensure your teams never go through this experience.
5. Employees become more productive
By teaching them how to stay safe by identifying potential threats, you're helping to create a more productive environment for your company and its employees. This means that employees can spend less time worrying about security and more time being productive and focused on their work.
They are less likely to waste time on activities that could put the company at risk. By improving security procedures, your business will streamline workflows and reduce the amount of time employees spend on tasks that are not directly related to their job duties.
Finally, security awareness training can also help employees become more productive by increasing their knowledge of company policies and procedures. By understanding the expectations and procedures of the organization, employees can work more efficiently and avoid common mistakes.
6. Improves confidence among customers
Make no mistake. Customers already view businesses with suspicion when it comes to data security. No wonder about 60% of customers say they actually expect that the companies they deal with will suffer a breach at some point. In other words, many of your customers already don’t trust you. By educating employees about the threats that exist and how to protect customer data, your business will essentially be demonstrating to your customers, the majority already skeptical by default, that you take security seriously and are doing everything you can to keep their information safe.
This builds trust and strengthens relationships, which can be invaluable to your organization. Studies have shown that security breaches bring jitters to customers. A single attack is enough to drive your customers away in droves, never to return.
7. Steadies brand image and reputation
A data breach can be a huge blow to your company's reputation. In fact, it's often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of a company, even long after the breach has been resolved.
So, how can security awareness training help improve your company's brand image and protect your reputation?
Well, first of all, it shows that your company takes data security seriously. It sends the message that you care about the safety of your customers' data. After all, if your customers know that you're taking the necessary precautions to keep their data safe, they're more likely to trust you with their business.
In addition, having a strong security posture can help reassure investors and shareholders, and can even make it easier to attract top talent.
8. Enhances compliance
If you're not providing your employees with regular security awareness training, you're putting your company at risk. There are many regulations that require companies to carry out security awareness training. Here are some examples:
- The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires all organizations that process, store or transmit credit card data to provide security awareness training for their employees.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers to offer security awareness training to their employees and contractors. This is provided for under the HIPAA Privacy Rule 45 CFR §164.530 and the HIPAA Security Rule 45 CFR §164.308. This is particularly important in countries like the US where cyber attacks on hospitals are on the rise.
- The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) requires financial institutions to explain their data sharing practices to their customers. This means that some aspects of your awareness programs should actually include your customers as well.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that personnel who handle personal data be trained on security.
9. Less downtime
This is tied to the benefit of reduced levels of attacks. Remember that whenever your organization experiences a cyber attack, you will certainly suffer downtime because a cyber attack automatically leads to disruption. You might have the best backup in place but your operations are going to be rendered stalled or slow during the period of restoration. But since awareness training means suppressed chances of attacks, this translates to fewer cases of downtime.
Additionally, when employees are aware of the dangers and threats that exist with cyber threats, they're less likely to click on malicious links or open attachments from unknown sources. This means that your business is less likely to experience attacks, which again brings the benefit of less downtime.
10. Boosts employee confidence and morale
Many employees feel more confident in the company's security posture when they have completed security awareness training. The training imparts a feeling of ability among the staff, meaning they'll never feel vulnerable in the event of attacks.
It’s a good thing to have employees who view cyber threats as something they can respond to with knowledge and not with panic. This strengthens their morale, eliminates the embarrassment of not being informed about security and ultimately increases staff retention.
Understanding the importance of security awareness training and how it prevents and reduces cyber threats is just the beginning. There are a few key things to keep in mind in order to make the most of your security awareness training
First, it's important that everyone in your company participates in the training. This includes employees at all levels, from the C-suite to customer care.
Second, training should be ongoing. It's not enough to just do a one-time training session and call it a day. Security awareness needs to be a part of your company culture, and that means ongoing education and reinforcement.
Finally, make sure that you have a clear plan for how your teams are going to use the information they acquire in your security awareness training. A solid action plan will help everyone put what they learn into practice and see results.