The Critical Need for IT Security Awareness Training for Employees

IT Security Awareness Training for Employees
IT Security Awareness Training for Employees

One of the biggest IT threats facing organizations comes from within. And, no, this might not be malicious, but they say ignorance is no defense.

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International conducted across 5000 global businesses shows that over 52% of IT risks they faced came from within. Many more businesses have suffered IT losses due to negligence on the part of employees.

In this 5-minute read, we will explore why all businesses with IT systems need to take employee security training very seriously.

Human Error, Actions, and Cybersecurity Incidents

IT risks arising due to human errors can lead to financial losses and massive PR damage for enterprises. Common digital access points that connect to the enterprise system include desktops connected to ethernet or Wi-Fi, applications, ports, servers, and websites. On the other hand, physical access points may include desktops/laptops, hard drives, mobile devices, and USB devices.

Staff may make mistakes that can put the company’s data or systems at risk. These may be careless, uninformed mistakes, or they may be malicious actions by the employees. For example, an employee might try to access what looks like a normal website or link such as UK writing service. Unbeknownst to them, this might be a fraudulent site created to steal passwords and login info.

As a result of these errors and careless actions, organizations remain vulnerable to phishing, social engineering attacks, or just brute force hacking.

Common Cybersecurity Risks Associated With Employees

The majority of employees do not act maliciously towards their employers. However, IT security risks may still result due to negligence or even lack of training. Let’s explore some of the most common ones:

Privilege Abuse

This happens when attackers gain access to higher-level systems than typically possible. Attackers can access confidential info, delete important data, and modify system configurations. Once a malicious actor gains access to the IT system there’s no telling what they could do.

Data Mishandling

Either knowingly or unknowingly, employees can expose sensitive company data. For example, they may leave sensitive data unattended, share it with the wrong people or outside procedures, or even dispose of it incorrectly.

Employees may also end up writing or sharing passwords, or discard hardware such as external backups containing user data and login credentials. An employee can also carry their device assigned for the workplace outside the premises and lose it or even connect to an unauthorized network.

Unapproved Hardware and Software

Personal laptops, USB drives, games, cloud services, and other unauthorized installs may pose serious threats to organizations. Companies should perform regular security audits to ensure that no suspicious hardware or software is connected to their networks.

Besides, employees can also have organizational hardware that they are not allowed to or authorized to use.

Email Misuse

Enterprise systems might be vulnerable to email attacks in the form of phishing, chain mail, spoofing, and other malicious attacks. Employees might also use their work emails to create social accounts, thus exposing them to attacks.

Internet Misuse

Employees can access restricted sites including streaming websites, X-rated sites, and other addresses that have been flagged. They can get malicious software installed on their computers as a result.

IT Security Awareness Training for Employees

To avoid such threats and challenges arising from employees, organizations need to put in place training as a first line of defense. Let’s look at some key areas that every organization with an IT system should consider when it comes to employee security training.

Clean Desk Policy

Employees may write passwords and other sensitive information on pieces of paper. Workplaces should enforce clutter-free and secure workspaces.

Papers containing sensitive information should be removed, promoting a clutter-free and secure workspace.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

Unless authorized, employees should be made aware of the dangers of using a personal device on work networks. If allowed, the device should be secured with password protection and antivirus.

Data Management

Employees must be trained on the criticality of different data types regarding business-critical information. They should also be made aware of what data they can or can’t access.

Removable Media

One of the biggest risks to enterprise systems is that of unsolicited removable devices. Employees should be trained on the risks posed by these devices such as flash drives and the possible repercussions from using these in enterprise networks.

Safe Internet Habits

Employees should also be trained on safe internet habits to prevent cybersecurity risks. This is especially true when the organization has a weak firewall or a regular antivirus/antimalware system.

Device Security

Employees should be trained on how to secure their devices. They should also be trained on safe habits such as disabling pop-ups and avoiding software that has been pirated or whose sources aren’t known.

Hacking Awareness

Employees should be trained to recognize different attacks such as phishing, malware, and DDoS attacks. They should generally avoid engaging with suspicious emails.

Social Network Awareness

Employees should also be taught about the dangers of social media. Access should be restricted to specific accounts or hours where possible.

Physical Security and Environmental Controls

Employees should be taught how to remain on the lookout for potential security risks including unauthorized access to the place.

Crisis Management Coverage

While not everything can be prevented, organizations now have insurance to mitigate accidents. The insurance might cover everything from a cyber breach to a natural disaster. Roleplaying is also encouraged to simulate scenarios where the enterprise systems are under attack.

Conclusion

Enterprises need to become more serious about raising the awareness of their employees of matters IT-related. Businesses must invest in these strategies to reduce the risk of security incidents as outlined above.

Besides that, companies also need to implement crisis management training. This provides a proactive approach to handling unforeseen challenges, protecting the organization’s reputation and data integrity.

Remember, the cost of investing in employee security training will be far less than mopping up a mess that might arise due to your employees.

You may also like to read: