The Human Factor: Importance of Employee Cybersecurity Training

By Microserve
A woman looking at a laptop screen that has a lock symbol on it

In an increasingly digital world where highly sensitive information is being stored online, data breaches and ransomware attacks are all too common for businesses. And while investing in cutting-edge technology that helps find weak points in your security posture is essential, human error is often behind cyberattacks. In fact, a recent study found that over 80% of businesses saw an increase “cybersecurity risk caused by a human factor” over the global pandemic. 

Employees are often the weakest link in your cybersecurity defense, and human error is common due to a lack of understanding of today’s cybersecurity risks. Today’s savvy cybercriminals are becoming smarter and adopting new ways to breach your defense systems. In this post, we will discuss why employee training is essential to combat today’s cybersecurity threats and how to prevent social engineering attacks. 

Cyberattacks are escalating in frequency and complexity 

Fortinet’s 1H Global Threat Landscape Report reported that fewer organizations can detect ransomware (a 9% decrease in the first half of 2023), while unique exploitations have increased by 68% in the last five years. This shows that ransomware attacks are not only growing in sophistication but are also becoming harder to detect and defend against. 

New variants are also emerging and spreading across organizations worldwide. For example, an APT-like wiper malware emerged in 2022 and is spreading with several variants. This wiper malware works to disrupt access to data and wipe data entirely. To make matters worse, cybercriminal organizations are now offering Crime-as-a-Service (CaaS) and Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) – making it easier for people to launch malicious attacks towards specific targets. For example, dozens of attacks were reportedly targeting Ukrainian companies during the Russian-Ukraine war, however, the attacks were not isolated to Ukrainian companies alone. 

Humans are vulnerable to socially engineered attacks 

Unfortunately, even with the best cybersecurity posture and defense, human error is still a leading cause of cyberattacks. A joint study with ESET and The Myers-Briggs Company suggests a correlation between pandemic-related stress levels and cyberattacks caused by human error – as stress levels rose, so did cyberattacks. This may also be related to new challenges faced by employees working remotely for the first time. 

It is important to support and educate your employees, so they know what dangers to look out for. Training your employees and providing regular, engaging cybersecurity training is essential to protecting your organization from increasingly sophisticated socially engineered attacks, where cybercriminals use deception tactics to gain access to your environment and data. 

Combat cyberattacks by providing up-to-date cybersecurity training 

User awareness training should be a critical part of your cybersecurity strategy, and it should be uniquely designed to empower your employees with industry-specific knowledge and skills. To ensure that your employees have the skills they need to combat today’s cybersecurity threats, you should tailor your cybersecurity training to your industry and organization’s unique needs. However, here are some key elements to consider when creating your user awareness training program. 

  1. Phishing Training: Phishing is a common method used by cybercriminals, to which their goal is to gain access to sensitive information. Educate your employees on the common red flags of phishing scams, such as misspelled URLs or email addresses, generic greetings, and requests for sensitive information.
  2. Password Security: Enforce strong password practices, such as the use of complicated passwords and the avoidance of using the same password for multiple accounts. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) where possible. Enforce password changes regularly.
  3. Social Engineering Defense: Educate your employees on the manipulation and deception techniques commonly used in phishing or ransomware attacks. Train employees to be cautious about sharing personal or company information with unknown individuals – both online and offline.
  4. Safe Browsing Habits: Your employees should avoid suspicious websites, and they should never click on unfamiliar links or download files from unverified sources. Use real-world, industry-specific examples to illustrate the potential risks.
  5. Device Security: It is important to keep all devices – including laptops, smartphones, and tablets – up to date with the latest security patches and updates. Encourage employees to keep their apps, devices, and operating systems updated.
  6. Incident Reporting: Provide clear channels for reporting suspicious activity or security incidents. Ensure your employees know how to report an incident, and that they feel comfortable doing so without fear of being reprimanded.
  7. Simulated Phishing Exercises: Strengthen the training by sending simulated phishing exercises. These drills enable employees to put their knowledge into action within a controlled setting, pinpointing areas that may require further enhancement. It also helps you understand your level of risks associated with phishing attacks.
  8. Regular Training Updates: Given the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats, it is essential to offer routine updates and refresher training sessions. These keep employees up to date on the latest threats and strategies for mitigating them.

The Human Factor: Your employees are your first line of defense 

While it is true that human error is a leading factor in cyberattacks, your employees are also your first line of defense. Training your employees well can mitigate your cyber risk, and providing industry-specific, engaging training is essential. 

The cybersecurity experts at Microserve can help you tailor your cybersecurity training so your employees can get the most up-to-date, useful information about the cybersecurity threats of today. With the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, it’s important to provide regular, engaging training to strengthen your defense system. 

The best way to reduce human error in cyberattacks is to understand the current threat landscape and educate your employees about potential cyber threats. 
Contact our cybersecurity team to learn about the common cybersecurity threats that your organization may face, and tailor a cybersecurity training program that fits your needs.  

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