Security awareness training is the process of providing formal cybersecurity education to an organization to teach the workforce about how to identify and prevent falling victim to cyber threats, phishing, and other malware attacks. Topics covered can include phishing attacks, removable media, passwords and authentication, physical security, mobile device security, working remotely, public Wi-Fi, cloud security, and more. Security Awareness Training is a comprehensive term that extends beyond just online security, and entails teaching and promoting a culture of secure online and offline practices.
Security awareness training must cover all the potential stakeholders within an organization including interns, employees, contractors, vendors, and anyone who is a probable participant in the organizational activities. The people responsible for financial, legal, and operational functions within an organization must be specially trained and prepped for protection against cyber attacks.
When implementing security awareness training for the workspace, you must align it to support the policies, processes, and procedures within your organization. Security awareness training should teach employees by delivering real-time advice on how to handle potential threats in a practical way. Best-in-class programs specifically address the human factor, cognitive biases, and behavioral training to address the newest forms of malware attacks facing organizations today.
Often organizations view security awareness training as a single event or class rather than an ongoing process. The right education and training platform can help organizations curtail risks and lower security incidents to a great extent. While traditional courseware programs can attract employees' attention, they do not build a cyber immune culture. As organizations grow beyond the four walls of office space and employees work from remote locations, it is imperative to continually reinforce the importance of secure practices. Thus, security awareness training must shift and become part of the larger organizational culture.
This shift in the approach to cybersecurity training is predicated on recognizing that human risk mitigation is of utmost importance in securing the first and last line of defense–employees. The best security awareness platforms have evolved from traditional courseware programs designed to “check-the-box” to delivering real-time, personalized coaching for each employee. Understanding the human element and teaching individuals how to identify and remediate cyberattacks at the time a mistake is made, modifies behavior and creates a more secure organization.
Organizations of all sizes must comply with certain security awareness measures to comply with regulatory requirements. HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and several other compliance standards are mandatory for the companies which offer related services. The best guidance and most widely used comes from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), which identifies security awareness training as a key component to a comprehensive cybersecurity program. According to NIST, organizations need to ensure “personnel and partners are provided cybersecurity awareness education and are trained to perform their cybersecurity-related duties and responsibilities consistent with related policies, procedures, and agreements.” However, it’s not enough to just provide the training, it needs to be effective. A personalized program can foster healthy online practices that help employees avoid cyber threats, phishing attacks, malware, and data loss. Organizations must leverage security awareness training to educate the employees rather than consider it a mere tool for compliance adherence.
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