Mark Twain once observed that if a cat jumps onto a hot stove, it will quickly jump off and will subsequently use that experience to avoid jumping onto stoves again. This observation suggests two further conclusions. First, if that cat had known that the stove was hot, it likely would not have jumped onto it in the first instance. Second, the cat may well avoid all stoves after its first experience, regardless of whether those stoves are hot.
Analogously, an employee in an organization might click on a malicious link in an email or take some other action that exposes the organization to a cyberattack. Perhaps the employee did not know or appreciate the risks of clicking on that link. Thereafter, the employee might refrain from clicking on any link as overcompensation for the initial misstep. Lack of training and awareness of cybersecurity risks creates an atmosphere of responses that are either inadequate or that exaggerate those risks.
The inadequacy of cybersecurity awareness is made apparent by employee failures to follow good cybersecurity practices. This is widely acknowledged by information security experts and overwhelming data on the topic.
This is all too easy to imagine: A worker clicks on malicious links in email messages from unknown senders. They share passwords to corporate networks and log into those networks from public Wi-Fi locations. They disclose personal and confidential information about an organization’s employees in response to queries from hackers posing as company executives and insiders. It happens all the time. And that’s the problem!
Data breaches may not be completely preventable, but incidents of successful cyberattacks can be substantially reduced by improving awareness of cybersecurity risks.
Cybersecurity experts suggest a number of methods to accomplish great cybersecurity awareness. For example, organization can conduct a “phishing” test in which an anonymous email is sent to all employees with instructions to click on an embedded link. The test will reveal which employees are susceptible to phishing messages. These folks can be given additional training to help them overcome their click-happy habits. It will also raise awareness of what a typical phishing email looks like for the workers than avoid bad clicks.
Cybersecurity audits that start with top-level management will also impress the importance of cybersecurity awareness on employees. Management should review the results of the audit to determine where improvements might be needed. These audits should be regular events, with management impressing the importance of cybersecurity awareness on all employees after the results of each audit are publicized.
Management should also seek other custom methods for regularly engaging employees in the administration and maintenance of cyber security within an organization. An employee that is burned one time with a ‘hot stove’ cyberattack will avoid the specific pattern of that attack going forward. Still, they may not be aware of new methods and techniques that hackers are employing to breach an organization’s data networks. Hacking techniques that challenge a cyber security environment change frequently. For this reason, one-time cyber security awareness training will not be an adequate and sufficient response to new techniques.
Organizations that are at a loss regarding how to increase cybersecurity awareness can generally get additional tips from cyber insurance providers. These services offer coverage for losses and third-party liabilities associated with a successful data breach.
In addition to offering this coverage, those providers consult with their clients to help them reduce the cyberattack risks that they face every day. They understand not only global data breach risks that apply to businesses in all industry sectors. They alsolook at specific forms of attacks that are common to certain industries, such as healthcare or accounting.
Even with greater cybersecurity awareness, organizations can still fall prey to a cyberattack. This results in lost customer confidence. That’s why it is so important to emphasize cybersecurity awareness in your workplace. Stay cyber smart to stay cyber safe!