As our digital world evolves, cybersecurity has never been more important and critical. During the last few years, we have all become witnesses to intense cybercrime and sophisticated cyberattacks. This upward trend is further fuelled by a shift in working conditions like working remotely. The impact of cyberattacks is profound, resulting in security breaches, enterprises’ revenue and reputation losses, and in some cases, organizations, and entire states being destabilized.
As cybercrime continues to increase, the human element can play the most important role in cybersecurity posture and hygiene. It is the main driver and the most significant vector within cybersecurity, humans tend to behave unpredictably under certain circumstances. If trained properly, training humans effectively can be a game changer. After all, cybersecurity is a matter of proper human risk management.
Train humans’ awareness
Several reports, such as the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2022 and Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report highlight that human error is by far the biggest and dominant cause of illicit actions and cybersecurity issues. Many businesses have a misperception that security can be enhanced and risk minimized if they train their employees via using tech-related jargon, without realizing that this will, in turn, confuse their employees. This only further exacerbates the issue. Instead, what they need to do is to manage human risk.
Despite the fact that human perception, cognition, and general behaviour can’t be controlled, and altered according to our needs, studies prove that cyberattacks can be regulated and actually decreased if employees undertake cybersecurity-focused training.
In every organization, training is a fundamental procedure. It is one of the most important pillars on which the edifice of any organization rests. Armed Forces are an exemplary example. With continuous improved training, it manages to keep the awareness level of the military personnel high, and combat-ready. Furthermore, the Armed Forces run awareness campaigns to instruct their personnel about cyber threats and what measures authorized users may take to mitigate threats to military information systems and their vulnerabilities.
The importance of cybersecurity awareness training
Speaking of training and taking into account humans’ perceptions, cybersecurity awareness training is by far the best place to start. By providing staff personnel and individuals with the necessary knowledge to recognize and react to cyber threats, know what to look for, which mistakes to avoid, and how to counter the most prevalent threats.
Cybersecurity awareness training is a defensive approach used by security professionals. It teaches people about cyber threats and dangers, safety precautions, HIPAA and PCI DSS requirements, and several privacy regulations. This includes GDPR and CCPA, which are anticipated to govern 75% of the world’s population by the end of 2023.
These training programs imitate cyberattacks and educate people about existing malware. It helps with teaching employees how to secure personal and business-sensitive information from illegal access, modification, and/or exploitation. Furthermore, as digital applications and security tools like MFA and VPN’s are developed, and used at an unprecedented rate, there is a greater need to train people on threats around them. If properly applied and instructed, training raises the cybersecurity level, minimizes human risk, and keeps employees on a high alert for cybersecurity awareness.
Reduce human risk
Most of these training programs are computer-based, and focus on various topics, including cloud, social media safety, safeguarding privacy, best practices for mobile and remote computing, and other important topics that are essential to reduce cyber threats.
Phishing attacks can be minimized by knowing the key indicators of a phishing attempt and how to address them. The same applies to spoofing messages, smishing, and suspicious voice calls, aka vishing. Additionally, through appropriate training, individuals can be educated on ransomware trends, enabling them to identify warning signs, in addition to allowing security teams to react and respond effectively. Furthermore, as AI and ML technology evolves and used by bad actors, these awareness campaigns can help people spot deepfake signs and address them adequately.
Last but not least, training campaigns educate people on regulations, requirements, and standards, covering data protection and handling sensitive payment information. To that end and taking into account that businesses and organizations need to be compliant with numerous security regulations, cybersecurity awareness training provides HIPAA & HITECH, PCI DSS, and data protection training.
We can shape the cybersecurity future
The cybersecurity threat environment is continually evolving due to the ongoing migration to the cloud. The fast rise in endpoint devices, the expansion of IoT, businesses’ desire to go digital, and the altering workforce models. As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it would be a disaster to try to slow down the rate of change; instead, we must be fully aware of cyber risks and be able to better protect our assets. In other words, what we have to do is to manage human risk in the most competent manner.
Eventually, knowledge sharing through cybersecurity awareness training will lead employees to a high alert state, and professionals to become more innovative and effective in security. Doing so, businesses will be put ahead of the threats, and future risks – no matter if they are called ransomware, deepfake, or social engineering attacks – will hit on a robust human firewall of cybersecurity awareness.
Inspired eLearning highlights: “As employers, employees, and the general public learn to speak the cybersecurity language, staggering figures like 95% user-error will diminish and companies will have a safer road to walk going forward”. Ultimately, our cyber secure future is a matter of personal accountability and proper human risk management.
About the Author: Christos Flessas is a Communications and Information Systems Engineer with more than 30 years of experience as an Officer of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF). He is an accredited NATO tactical evaluator in the Communication and Information Systems (CIS) area and the National Representative (NatRep) at Signal Intelligence CIS and at Navigation Warfare (NavWar) Wrking Groups. Christos holds an MSc in Guided Weapon Systems from Cranfield University, UK. He has also attended numerous online courses such as the Palo Alto Networks Academy Cybersecurity Foundation course. His experience covers a wide range of assignments including radar maintenance engineer, software developer for airborne radars, IT systems manager and Project Manager implementing major armament contracts.
Christos is intrigued by new challenges, open minded, and excited for exploring the impact of cybersecurity on industrial, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, financial, aviation, and maritime sectors. He is also a writer for Bora.