In the ever-growing digital age, it is imperative for businesses to remain fully compliant with all data protection and IT regulations. The internet comes alongside a plethora of different potentially fatal risks to your business, which means that ensuring thorough security awareness training among team members is vital.

If you are beginning a new business venture and opening your first independent company, or alternatively, are hoping to improve your overall security, we have devised a full guide to not only answer the question of “why is security awareness important?” but also what training topics are required.

Why Is Security Awareness Important?

The National Cyber Security Centre has stated that cyber attacks, unfortunately, are on the rise. While this alone is an astonishing thought, to make matters worse, it is thought that approximately 31% of businesses do not have any experience in security awareness training nor have any plans to implement cybersecurity precautions.

When beginning research into cybersecurity, many are surprised at the number of different types of attacks that can occur; no longer is it merely a case of a computer hack. The most common forms of cyber attacks on businesses are phishing, viruses and ransomware; however, there are tonnes of additional risks such as malware, credential reuse and denial-of-service. For more information on the types of cybersecurity attacks, take a look at Rapid7.

Once you have familiarised yourself with the types of security risks your business faces, it is time to implement processes in which you aim to keep the risk of an attack at a minimum. All members of the team, no matter their role, must embark on thorough training to allow them to contribute towards building a secure, confidential business.

Man presenting conference

Key IT Security Training Topics

For those planning IT security awareness training for employees, it can often prove somewhat tricky to know the foundation topics that must be covered. Awareness courses often are rather dull, so it is essential to put together a course that is not only educational but is also capable of maintaining the interest of those attending.

To give some inspiration when course planning, we have gathered a list of the most important topics, along with the potential risks if left untaught.

Basic Security Measures

The first step towards implementing successful cybersecurity training is to highlight the basic security measures that they are responsible for; these include:

  • Anti-Virus Software – This must be installed on all staff laptops or desktops before they begin using the device. Anti-virus software is the online update that you should allow to be done automatically. Tech Radar has a useful guide on the best anti-virus software.
  • Links In Emails – It may appear to be common knowledge but always emphasise the importance of never clicking unknown links in emails. Links are capable of infecting your computer or device immediately.
  • Use Of USB’s – Many staff opt to use a USB stick to store data. If this is the case, ensure that all USB’s are encrypted before use.

Creating Secure Passwords & Authentication

One of the most critical security-related skills that employees must retain is the ability to create complex passwords for any networks, files or online platforms associated with the company. As a business, you must be able to guarantee the confidentiality, protection and security of data. In many roles, team members work on the go, whether this may be during their daily commute or finishing off additional tasks at home; both of which increase the risk of devices being stolen or damaged during transportation. Passwords are a key resource in eliminating any risks of hacking or stolen data.

When creating a password, aim to avoid any common words, such as “password”, terms that are personal therefore easy to identify and short passwords; all of which become increasingly easier to decipher. Instead, opt for acronyms, symbols and number, along with a randomly selected phrase. Webroot has put together a handy guide on how to create a strong and unique password.

You may want to consider introducing a two-factor authentification process to aspects such as cloud services and business files. Many companies choose to utilise Apple devices as they already have two-factor authentification features factored in during the manufacturing process. A two-factor authentification password process makes it significantly harder for a hacker to gain access to restricted areas within the device; it will also reduce the risk of any data leaks.

Password security

Installing Network Connections

Wi-Fi, in particular, public Wi-Fi, is a hackers dream and is often the key contributing factor towards a cyber attack. Hacks that have been down to an open connection are known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. Hackers keep an eye out for security flaws that allow them to intercept data and then continue to perform a MITM attack on the public.

As a business, it is important to teach employees the importance of only using a secure network that has been set up for the individual organisation. Many large office buildings utilise public Wi-Fi, as well as private, to avoid giving visitors their connection password. With this in mind, it is strongly recommended for a professional wireless network installations company to set up all routers, which you are then free to create a complex password for. A professional company, during their visit, are also able to provide industry-proven advice on how to secure information. It is also advised to consider running your Wi-Fi through fibre cabling as opposed to their more dated alternatives. Not only is fibre cabling installation ideal for achieving faster broadband, but it also comes alongside considerably more security and reliability, again.

Plugging in wifi router

Device Access Outside Of Working Hours

It is not uncommon for employees to have a work mobile phone or laptop that has been provided to them by the company. Again, incredibly common when working in a role that is continuously on the go such as an estate agent or sales executive. Those who do provide corporate devices to team members must ensure that they highlight the importance of using them for business purposes only. Although it is common knowledge that work devices are simply for business-related use, you would be surprised by the number of people who fail to comply with the strict instructions. Because of this, it may prove beneficial to state the rules in writing for all parties to sign and then document.

Under no circumstances should those responsible for corporate devices allow others to use their mobile, laptop or desktop. There have been many unfortunate cases where people let their children on their business device unattended, and they accidentally download a virus. Not only does this breach data protection regulations, but also risks losing your job and going to court.

man on laptop at train station

Confidentiality & Data Protection Laws

Any organisation that handles, stores and uses personal data to carry out their daily tasks must ensure that they are compliant with all GDPR regulations. Regardless of the industry you expertise lie in; it is imperative to ensure that all team members are aware of all data protection laws and how to remain compliant. It is your choice whether you opt for carrying out your own GDPR training course or enlist the help of online resources from sites such as IT Governance.

Once all team members are aware of not only what GDPR is, but also how to remain compliant, it is time to implement confidentiality processes. It is always worth keeping in mind that no matter how safe your employees are and how much you trust them, there is still the small risk of a data break. Because of this, security can never be too heightened. When storing data on the cloud, it has never been more important to encrypt all information and make sure that you opt to store data on reliable network storage. Encouraging all staff members to improve their security awareness knowledge and change their processes to meet regulations becomes relatively futile if your server does not have the security to match.

When implementing GDPR processes, aim to get all staff members into the routine of no longer writing down any passwords or login details; this alone risks you no longer remaining compliant. Luckily, there are now many different tools that allow you to store all confidential passwords securely. LastPass is a highly effective password manager that will enable individuals to store encrypted passwords through their online portal. Even when using LastPass, you will not visually be able to see any of the passwords, which means that no one aside from those who created the passwords will know what they are.

filing cabinet

Backing Up Information

All data, regardless of how secure your networks and devices are, must be adequately backed up in the event of an emergency. There is nothing worse than losing valuable data of files that compose the backbone of the business, and due to the increasing popularity of technology, it is rare for an organisation still to keep hard copies of information.

With this in mind, it is important to train all staff on why they need to back up their data, along with how to do so and how often the task is required. Many businesses opt for backing up on a daily basis for their peace of mind. Losing information can have a dramatic effect on the business; it can take a lot of time to fix and can also mean some forms of data may be unrecoverable.

Making Software Updates & Installations

Many people instantly accept software updates when using an electronic device, and while this is usually completely innocent, you can never be entirely sure. Before security awareness training, build a list of software that employees are able to download or update on their devices safely, which will then be provided during the course. Taking strict action on the installation of unfamiliar software onto corporate devices will dramatically reduce the risk of cyber security attacks.

It is also vital to highlight to staff that many types of free-to-use software that incurs no extra costs are usually a big no-no. Many forms of free software are used by hackers to inject viruses onto your systems and use their access to extract personal information or valuable data.

team at office

Remain Safe From Cyber Attacks!

It is vital to ensure that all staff members are fully trained in IT awareness and are aware of the best practices to remain secure at all times, even when working on the go. Minimising the risk of a virus, hacking or a cyber attack begins with implementing confidentiality processes and encouraging staff to contribute towards cybersecurity.

We hope that we have been able to provide a detailed introduction to IT security awareness and how to train team members. If so, why not share with others on social media?

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