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10 Effective Tips for Cybersecurity Training for Employees

Protecting your organization from potential cyberattacks and data breaches requires more than just advanced technology and robust firewalls; it demands a well-informed and vigilant workforce. This is where effective cybersecurity training for employees comes into play.

Since your staff has access to sensitive business data, training them in the best practices and how to avoid common cybersecurity mistakes is essential. This article will cover some core tips for helping you in this endeavor. 

1. Normalize Discussing Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity should be at the forefront of all your employees’ minds, not just your IT support team. Regularly discussing the issue, having meetings about password practices and phishing, and integrating cybersecurity terminology into your daily office lives can make thinking about cybersecurity second nature. 

You should explain the consequences of a breach for your company so that your staff can become aware of their own role in preventing such breaches. This awareness will go a long way toward reminding your employees to consider cybersecurity whenever interacting with data in any way. 

2. Show What A Cyber Attack Looks Like

A key component of training staff about cybersecurity is to train them to spot any red flags, including those related to email security. If they know what a cyber attack looks like, they’ll be better able to alert the IT department.

Since time is of the essence with cyber attacks, early intervention is vital. The first step is teaching staff to recognize a suspicious email, a phishing scam, or a dangerous link. This is one of the areas every employee interacts with and an easy point of attack. Then, you can move on to more complex cyber risks. 

3. Foster A Culture Of Security And Privacy

Your data privacy and security policy should not be left to collect metaphorical dust in an old folder on your laptop. It should be a document that everyone—from the business owner to the lowest level employee—should not only read but be well familiar with. 

Your employees should know why it’s part of their role to abide by these policies and the impact of these policies on the company. This process should begin from the moment a new employee starts their role, with onboarding, and continue with regular training sessions for all staff members. 

As well as supporting continuous learning, you can also integrate new and updated lessons as part of the training to keep everybody on the same page regarding security. 

4. Put Training To Work

It’s very easy to forget information you’ve learned if you don’t put it to work quickly. The best way to integrate new knowledge is to find ways to implement it in your employees’ work lives that same week, whether it’s closing windows that display confidential information when making a call from computer, involving staff in a file system overhaul, introducing monthly password changes, or just daily admin tasks. 

You can add practical tips at the end of training sessions to help staff implement what they’ve learned and curate projects around this area. 

5. Run Cybersecurity Knowledge Checkups And Quizzes

It’s normal for people’s memories of a training session to fade over time, and you can keep people sharp by running cybersecurity knowledge checkups and pop quizzes. You could even turn it into a team-based game with prizes and an hour away from the desk.

This will help you identify gaps in their knowledge and what areas you need to revisit in a fun and rewarding way. You could even blend multiple quiz themes, such as a quiz that covers both conversational AI solutions and cybersecurity, to keep it fresh and interesting.

6. Involve Managers

To have a robust cybersecurity system in place, you need someone to manage it. It’s not enough to simply train everybody in cybersecurity—you need a clear plan of action, daily and weekly tasks, monthly check-ins, and annual reports. 

As well as the right hardware, software, and training, you need managers to oversee your cybersecurity strategy and delegate different roles and responsibilities. 

7. Budget

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For successful training, you need to properly budget. This includes the cost of any software and hardware needed to carry out the training and implement it and the time of trainees and trainers. 

If you have a thorough budget plan in place before you start, you won’t get thrown by any unexpected expenses and have to skip essential training. So, next time you’re creating a budget for things like an enterprise cloud phone system or new accounting software, make sure you also cover the budget for training your staff to use them securely.

8. Notice Any Unsafe Workplace Behaviors

As part of your training, you should note any existing behaviors amongst your employees that create an unsafe workplace environment regarding cybersecurity. You can then address these in training. 

If you notice that someone always writes down a list of their passwords on a notepad, that’s something that could be accessed easily, creating trouble for the company. You could then organize a training session on the best identity theft protection practices and the risks a stolen password could pose to your business.

9. Show Sensitivity When Handling Cybersecurity Incidents

To err is human, and your employees, and likely managers as well, will occasionally err. As well as doing all you can to prevent cybersecurity incidents from occurring, you also need to show sensitivity when dealing with incidents. 

Most of the time, cybersecurity incidents are the product of simple oversight, and it’s important to remember that while someone may have made a mistake, the real culprit is the hacker who launched the attack. This sensitivity and non-judgment can also help with staff retention and satisfaction.

With the advent of AI, these attacks are becoming more sophisticated and harder to spot, so take it easy on your staff if mistakes are made. 

10. Nip It In The Bud 

Another important tip when training staff is to show them how to nip an attack in the bud. If you cultivate a culture of openness and trust, then people will feel able to own up quickly to a mistake, such as clicking on a phishing email because the branding and email address used in the email looked convincing.

The sooner your employees point out an attack or suspicious-looking email, the faster your IT team can leap into action and protect your sensitive data. This is one of the reasons point number 9 is so important—you don’t want to shame people into submission. 

Final Thoughts

Cybersecurity can feel like a daunting subject, and it’s vital that you foster a culture of communication and non-judgment. Anyone can accidentally click on a malicious link or open a suspicious-looking email. The faster your staff can admit to this mistake, the sooner your IT department can jump in with damage control measures. 

As well as a culture of openness, you should also make training fun, with regular quizzes to identify gaps in knowledge. Finally, you want to make sure that you have a proper structure and plan in place, with a thorough budget decided.

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