Employees are the weakest link in an organization and are often the first point of contact for a security threat. In fact, the majority of successful cyber-attacks begin with a phishing scam. Vulnerable employees make great targets for phishing scams and social engineering attacks that could lead to further entry into a company’s network.
Ongoing cybersecurity awareness training equips employees with the knowledge and skills to recognize and manage cybersecurity risks. As cybersecurity threats increase, it becomes more important than ever to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices that protect the network environment.
With this in mind, here are the must-have cybersecurity awareness topics you should include in your training program.
Must-Have Topics You Should Include in Cybersecurity Awareness training
Below are some of the most common cybersecurity topics that employees should understand.
Employees sometimes use the same password for personal, and company accounts, creating a security risk. Hackers often use brute-force attacks to guess username and password combinations. Once a hacker compromises one account, chances increase that other accounts belonging to the employee will also be compromised.
Randomized passwords make it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to multiple accounts. Passwords should also contain a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols Underscore the importance of using strong, unique passwords for each online account and emphasize the use of multi-factor authentication when available.
Phishing attacks have seen a major increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hackers use this technique to coerce email users into downloading malware or exposing sensitive information. Employees often fall victim to phishing attacks because they don’t know how to recognize them.
The threat of a phishing attack can be reduced if employees can recognize and report suspicious emails. Cybersecurity awareness training should include simulated phishing attacks so that employees can recognize phishing emails and fake URLs. Employees should also be trained in the measures they should take to avoid falling victim.
3. Information Security
Information security involves the use of policies, practices, and principles to maintain the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of a company’s data and protect against unauthorized use and access.
Training should ensure that employees know the organization’s policies for accessing and sharing sensitive information and the penalties associated with breaching these policies. Emphasize basic concepts of information security and explain how attacks on information security occur.
Cybercriminals use ransomware to hold an organization's devices and data hostage until their monetary demands are met.
Employees need to know how ransomware affects the organization. Awareness training should help employees recognize common ransomware threats and delivery methods and show them how to remediate ransomware attacks.
5. Social Engineering
Social engineering uses deception to manipulate a person into disclosing confidential information like passwords or credit card details. Malicious actors use social engineering to pose as legitimate clients or organizations to gain the trust of employees who may unwittingly share proprietary information.
Attacks can come as phishing emails with malware, business email compromise attacks (BEC), and spear-phishing attacks. To prevent employees from falling victim to a social engineering attack, training should focus on how these attacks occur and the measures used to prevent or remedy them.
6. Removable Media
Removable media, such as USB drives, external hard drives, and CDs can also pose a security threat to organizations. Hackers often install malware on removable devices then automatically install malware when inserted into a computer. The hacker can then steal data, install ransomware or disable company devices.
Training should ensure that employees know never to plug untrusted removable media into a company workstation and to contact IT support to scan the device if they are unsure of its origins.
7. Browser Security
Most online users never change the default browser security configurations. This makes a web browser the ideal target for malicious activity such as spyware installation allowing an intruder to take control of your computer.
Employees should know how to identify a suspicious website, and only download software from well-known sites. Emphasize the importance of keeping browsers up-to-date and secure.
8. Mobile Security
With the recent move to remote working environments, many organizations have implemented bring your own device policies (BYOD). This has widened the threat landscape, creating a new avenue for cybercriminals to exploit.
Employees need to understand how to keep their mobile devices physically secure and prevent unauthorized access. Encourage the use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication on these devices and make sure that employees understand the BYOD policy and the procedures for accessing company data via mobile devices.
9. Email Security
Email is the most common form of communication within an organization, making it a prime target for cyber attacks. Email security uses various procedures and techniques to protect emails and content from unauthorized access.
Employees need to know the signs of an email attack and how to report suspicious emails to the IT security team. Attackers often send emails that appear to come from legitimate sources. Techniques like double-checking the sender’s email address or confirming email content via a previously known phone number should also be emphasized.
Not all Wi-Fi networks are safe. Hackers often create fake Wi-Fi networks that look like a free coffee shop and airport network. Connecting to the company network via an unsecured Wi-Fi network could expose valuable company information or create an entry point into the company’s network.
Awareness training should educate employees on the safe use of public WI-FI and how to identify fake Wi-Fi networks. You should also underscore the importance of only connecting to the company network via VPN or virtual desktop. This is especially important for remote or traveling employees.
11. Multi-Factor Authentication
MFA (Multi-factor Authentication) adds a layer of security to password protection by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource.
Employees should understand how MFA works and how it strengthens security. A hacker would need to possess all authentication factors to gain access to a resource. Underscore the importance of using MFA whenever it is available.
Although cloud-based solutions provide an increased level of security, human error can still create vulnerabilities that put your organization at risk. Cybersecurity awareness training ensures that you and your employees know how to recognize and remedy potential threats.