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Why Security Awareness Training Is a Must and How to Make It Work

The top IT security threats of 2023 — social engineering and ransomware — aren’t particularly sophisticated. They depend on users within your organization to do the heavy lifting.


Through basic online research, hackers can figure out who has access to the systems and data they want to attack. Then they target those groups of people, sending phishing emails that attempt to get them to click links to malicious websites and download malicious files. The user’s action launches ransomware and other malware attacks.


Hackers also trick users into turning over their network credentials or wiring money to an account the attacker controls. No malware is required for these attacks — the hacker only needs to be convincing.


The Prevalence of Social Engineering


Various studies have shown that social engineering is the most common form of cyberattack. The “human element” plays a role in more than 80 percent of security incidents. Social engineering typically involves deception and manipulation to trick people into breaking security procedures.


In the case of phishing, this could mean posing as the boss and requesting personnel files. It could mean posing as a business partner and telling the victim to download a document from a file-sharing tool. It could mean posing as a shipping company or retailer and instructing the recipient to verify a delivery or purchase. Many phishing emails include fake DocuSign links or e-signatures.


Phishing scams are almost as old as email, but research shows phishing is becoming even more prevalent.Additionally, attackers increasingly use AI to generate more convincing emails. These phishing attacks lack many of the clues that made it relatively easy to spot scams in the past — poor spelling and grammar and awkward phrasing. AI also enables hackers to automate immediate responses to users who bite.


Why Training Is Critical


Some executives may think, “If my employees used common sense, we wouldn’t have these issues.” That may be true to an extent, but hackers have become master manipulators, using logos, names and messaging that have fooled even the most cautious employees. Organizations that are serious about combating these threats offer employee security awareness training to minimize the risk of breaches and regulatory compliance issues.


Instead of relying on common sense to solve problems, show employees examples of actual phishing emails. Explain common techniques. Remind them of security procedures, including the process for reporting suspicious emails or activity, and the consequences of breaking procedure.


Make Sure It’s Effective


Keep in mind that boring, tedious training will make employees think the subject matter isn’t very important. Instead of going through the motions, make your training engaging and interesting. Make the connection between the user’s activity and the impact on your organization. And get senior leadership involved. This will show everyone that IT security is an organizational priority. At the very least, training should be taken seriously because it’s required for many government and industry compliance programs.


Training should be part of a culture that prioritizes IT security and compliance awareness. Security isn’t just an IT function. All users should be on the lookout for threats every day, not just during training sessions. This requires ongoing training with achievable security goals. Recognize that mistakes will happen. Use mistakes as training lessons, not public shaming or punishment.


By establishing a security awareness culture, you’ll make employees feel like they have a stake in the game, which will reduce the risk of security incidents. Let IronLogix help you implement a security awareness training program that arms your users with the resources they need to spot social engineering and other threats.

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