What is Security Awareness Training and Why Does Your Business Need It?

As a small business owner, you know that mounting a solid cyber defense and implementing the best cyber security practices you can is essential to the continued operation of your firm. You know that a single data breach could send your customers fleeing – and with it, the money your firm needs to survive.

You have done everything in your power to shore up your cyber defenses and defend your cyber security. You have invested in the best hardware installed robust spam filtering and the latest firewalls. You have locked down your Wi-Fi network to make it easy for employees but hard for hackers.

So can you sit back and rest on your laurels? Can you pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for a job well done? Not so fast! There is still the human element to worry about, and that could be the most dangerous one of all.

In the long chain of cyber security, the weakest link is the one that gets exploited. If any one member of your team is unable to recognize the threat, your entire business could be at risk.

One of the best ways to not only assess the human risk but address it is with security awareness testing. This is a form of social engineering, one that uses the same methods as the bad guys while turning the process on its head.

Security awareness training is just what it sounds like – it’s designed to assess the knowledge of your staff, and once the assessment has been completed, a comprehensive set of recommendations will be made.

A typical security awareness training session can take many forms, and a combination approach is often the most effective. In typical security awareness training, fake phishing emails might be created and sent, with careful evaluations of the responses of each and every worker who receives them.

If all goes well during that hypothetical attack, every employee would immediately recognize the phishing attack for what it was. Some might report the suspicious email to their boss, and others to the IT team. Some might simply delete the email altogether, not taking any further action but not taking the bait either.

In other cases, a few employees might take the bait, calling the number provided or clicking a link that, thankfully, is free of viruses and malware – this time. If any employees do respond in a potentially dangerous manner, that worker can be educated on the threats of hacking, ransomware, and other online dangers.

The beauty of security awareness training is that it addresses the human element, something that no amount of hardware infrastructure and capital investment can adequately do. Studies have shown that the vast majority of cyber security breaches are the direct result of human action, and that makes security awareness training a worthy investment in your business and its future.

As you can see, conducting ongoing security awareness training could be good for your business and your safety. If you feel this type of training is worthwhile, there are several ways to continue. If you have an in-house IT team, you can simply task them with designing and implementing the training. If you work with an outside IT agency, you can ask them about various training scenarios. You can also design a plan yourself, using free online resources as well as paid subscriptions to get you up and running.