Training Employees to Be Your First Line of Defense

Why your first line of defense should start with training employees

The security breaches at companies such as JP Morgan Chase and Equifax have startled business owners. These incidents have raised concerns because if enterprises with high levels of security can be targeted, then the thousands of smaller businesses across America are no exception. Security experts agree that employee awareness training is the first defense against cyberattacks. This article highlights the importance of providing employees with proper security training to strengthen their defenses against cybercriminals.

Understanding Social Engineering in Cybersecurity

  • Social engineering is a tactic cybercriminals use to exploit human psychology rather than relying only on technical vulnerabilities. For instance, an email appearing to be from the CEO of a company inviting you to an online meeting or a request from a bank claiming to verify your employee’s information can be deceptive and lure employees into clicking a malicious link. Social engineering is a personalized approach to cyberattacks that manipulates individuals into taking risky actions that compromise critical data, such as login credentials, to gain unlawful access.

The first solution that may come to mind is preventing all malicious emails from reaching your staff. It is commonly assumed that implementing email spam protection is the ultimate solution that can block all harmful emails. While it sounds like a solid plan, the reality is that no spam filter can guarantee the prevention of all phishing attempts. Cybercriminals can execute social engineering schemes using a legitimate, compromised email account. A spam protection system cannot automatically identify and filter out such emails.

Establishing a Human Firewall for Your Business

  • The best solution to combat phishing and other cybersecurity attacks is to equip employees with awareness training to become cyber defenders and the first line of defense, essentially forming a human firewall. Social engineering awareness training should be an integral component of your comprehensive cybersecurity program. Any vulnerabilities in your human firewall should be promptly addressed.

In addition to the initial awareness training provided during onboarding, it is essential to conduct routine automated email simulations to gauge the understanding and application of employee training. If the employee falls into a simulated trap, immediate retraining is required. Tailored video courses and a knowledge assessment questionnaire can help you evaluate employee training. This proactive approach ensures that any gaps in your human firewall are sealed as soon as they are identified.

Frequency of Employee Training

  • As the threat landscape is evolving continuously and new phishing techniques are emerging, social engineering awareness training should be conducted at least twice a year. If this training is done only quarterly or annually, the vulnerabilities in your human firewall may expand, potentially allowing cybercriminals to breach your initial line of defense.

Consider designing training modules that your employees genuinely look forward to watching. As you develop these modules, think about creating a series of training sessions throughout the year that build upon one another. This approach keeps employees eager to continue their learning journey and to discover what comes next. Designing an employee security training program beyond the annual box-checking compliance requirement can significantly boost long-term employee engagement and commitment.

Knowledge Retention

  • training employeesRepetition is essential for minimizing gaps in your firewall. Employees benefit from revisions that can refresh their understanding. Applying this knowledge in real-world scenarios, such as through malicious email simulations, is more likely to enhance their awareness than standard classroom-style training.

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