Considering that cybersecurity threats are evolving at an alarming rate, a cybersecurity training program or cybersecurity awareness training program is something that every organization should contemplate, regardless of their field of work. This does not mean that everyone should become cybersecurity experts – but attention to cybersecurity concerns will help prevent certain types of attacks and ensure that any possible cybersecurity incidents are kept at the minimum level. Moreover, this type of training for employees can help you develop compliance regulations that will further aid your organization’s risk management. We have created this ultimate guide to help you learn what cybersecurity is, why it is essential, and, last but not least – why people in your organization should undergo security awareness programs, as well as which topics those programs should cover.
What Is Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity can be described as collective methods, techniques, and processes that aid in the protection of the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of computer systems, networks, and data to prevent cyberattacks or unauthorized access. The primary purpose of network security is to protect all organizational assets from external and internal threats and damage caused by natural disasters.
Since organizational assets are composed of multiple systems, an effective and efficient network security posture requires coordinated efforts in all its information systems. Therefore, network security consists of the following subdomains:
Network security involves implementing a myriad of hardware and software mechanisms to protect the network and infrastructure from unauthorized access, destruction, and misuse. Adequate network security helps protect organizational assets against multiple external and internal threats.
Application security involves implementing various defensive measures in all software and services used to defend against multiple threats. It requires designing secure application architecture, writing secure code, implementing robust data input verification, threat modeling, and more, all to minimize the possibility of any unauthorized access or modification to application resources.
Cloud security involves using various cloud service providers (such as AWS, Google, Azure, Rackspace, etc.) to design secure cloud architectures and applications for organizations. Effective architecture and environment configuration can ensure protection against a myriad of threats.
Identity Management and Data Security
Identity management includes processes, frameworks, and activities that enable authentication and authorization of legitimate individuals to information systems within an organization. Data security involves implementing robust information storage mechanisms that ensure data safety at rest and in transit.
User education includes formally training individuals regarding topics on computer security. This is essential in raising awareness about industry best practices, organizational procedures, and policies and monitoring and reporting malicious activities.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning deal with monitoring, alerts, processes, and plans that help organizations prepare for keeping business-critical systems online during and after any disaster and restoring lost operations and systems after an incident.
Mobile security refers to the protection of organizational information and personal information stored on mobile devices (such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) from various threats, such as unauthorized access, device loss or theft, malware, and others.
The Importance Of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is crucial because many organizations collect, process, and store unprecedented amounts of data on computers and other devices connected to the internet. A significant portion of this data can be sensitive information, whether that be intellectual property, financial data, personal information, or different data types for which unauthorized access or exposure could have negative consequences. Organizations transmit sensitive data across networks and other devices in the course of doing business.
With all this in mind, cybersecurity can be described as the discipline dedicated to protecting sensitive data, information, and the systems used to collect, process, or store it. With time, the volume and sophistication of cyber attacks grow. That is why companies and organizations need to ensure their sensitive business and personal information are secure at all levels.
Challenges of Cybersecurity
To effectively implement cybersecurity strategies, an organization needs to ensure its efforts are coordinated throughout its entire information system. Cybersecurity encompasses all of the following:
- Data security: This includes protecting all information that is inside of networks and applications.
- Network security: This includes protecting an organization’s network from unwanted attacks, users, and other types of intrusions.
- Application security: This ensures that the applications used by an organization are regularly updated and passing continuous security testing.
- Endpoint security: While remote access is often a necessary part of an organization’s work, it can also pose a weak link that can be exploited by a malicious hacker. With this in mind, endpoint security is the process of ensuring remote access to a company’s network is secure at all times.
- Cloud security: This exists to protect the files from a fully online environment – the “cloud”- as it brings many unique challenges.
- Identity management: In essence, this is a process of understanding the access rights of everyone in the organization.
- Database and infrastructure security: Everything in the network involves databases and physical devices, and this type of security exists because protecting both types of devices is equally important.
- End-user education: Those users can be employees who access the network or customers who log in to company applications. Helping them develop good cybersecurity habits (password changes, utilizing two-factor authentication, etc.) is crucial.
- Disaster recovery/business continuity planning: In cases of a data breach, natural disaster, or another type of incident, the data must be protected, and the business must go on as usual. For this, you need a plan.
- Mobile security: Cellphones and tablets involve virtually every type of security challenge in and of themselves.
The most difficult challenge in network security is the ever-evolving nature of security risks themselves. Traditionally, organizations have concentrated most of their network security resources on perimeter security. It served to protect only their most critical system components and defend against known threats. However, this approach is currently insufficient because the threats evolve faster than organizations can react. As a result, advisory organizations promote more proactive and adaptive approaches to cybersecurity.
Why Should You Go Through Cybersecurity Training?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article – this will provide an additional layer of security to your organization’s system(s). Now, in what way will that happen? Let us first cover what can happen if your team does not have cybersecurity training:
What Are The Risks That Poor Cybersecurity Entails?
The risks are many, some with more severe consequences than others. These dangers include malware erasing your entire system, attackers breaking into your system and changing files, attackers using your computer to attack others, or attackers stealing your credit card information and making unauthorized purchases. Even with precautions, it is not guaranteed that some of these things will not happen to you, but you can and should take steps to minimize those chances.
What Types Of Cybersecurity Threats Exist?
Keeping up with new security trends and technologies, as well as with current threat intelligence, is a challenging task. However, it is necessary to protect information and other assets from cyber threats, which take many forms. Some of the types of these cyber threats are:
- Malware: A form of malicious software in which any file or program can be used to harm a computer user. Some examples of malware are worms, viruses, Trojans, spyware, and ransomware.
- Social engineering: An attack that tricks system users into breaking security procedures to gain typically protected sensitive information.
- Phishing: A form of social engineering where fraudulent email or text messages that resemble those from reputable or known sources are sent. Often random attacks, these messages intend to steal sensitive data, such as credit card or login information.
- Spear phishing: A phishing attack with a target user or organization.
- Insider threats: Those are security breaches or losses caused by humans – for example, employees, contractors, or customers. Insider threats can be either malicious or negligent.
- Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks: These attacks are carried out by multiple systems disrupting the traffic of a targeted system. Examples include a server or a website. By flooding the target with messages, connection requests, or packets, the attackers can slow the system or crash it, preventing legitimate traffic from using it.
- Advanced persistent threats (APTs): Those are prolonged targeted attacks in which an attacker infiltrates a network and remains undetected for long periods to steal data.
- Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks: These involve an attacker intercepting and relaying messages between two parties who believe they are communicating directly with each other.
Other common attacks include botnets, drive-by-download attacks, exploit kits, malvertising, vishing, credential stuffing attacks, cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, SQL injection attacks, business email compromise (BEC), and zero-day exploits.
The Major Topics of Cybersecurity Training
Cybersecurity training must address common cybersecurity threats and best practices. Some of the topics this kind of training should cover are:
How to Avoid Malware
As malware is one of the primary and most used cyberattack methods, it is crucial to keep the people in your organization up-to-date on how to stay safe and avoid it. Malware can be in links, files, and software that will corrupt files, destroy applications, steal or damage data, and even crash your computer network. It is vital to prevent that from happening.
Everyone in the organization should learn the basic types of malware and lesser-known ways it can enter a device, system, or network. For example, it is common knowledge that using anti-virus software and not trusting links and files from unknown email addresses is a reliable way to avoid malware. However, not many people realize that unpatched anti-virus software is mostly useless, as it will not detect the newest threats.
Smart Use Of Public Wi-Fi
As anyone can access a public Wi-Fi hotspot, it is an excellent way for a malicious hacker to access your device and all of the information on it. Moreover, a more skilled malicious hacker can even set up a fake Wi-Fi network disguised as a public one.
As people in the organization may need to communicate on the go, they will probably access a public Wi-Fi network at some point during their time with you – whether it be responding to emails from a coffee shop or working on a mobile device while waiting for an airplane. Therefore, it is crucial to teach them how to use public Wi-Fi securely and spot fake Wi-Fi networks, reducing the chances of infection and data theft.
Secure Password Management
Even though we live in a digital age, 123456 is still one of the most popular passwords. Education about safe and unsafe password management practices is a must in every organization, as it will help raise the level of security of your organization as a whole. Additionally, introducing two-factor authentication and password managers as tools that can be used in both work and daily life can significantly benefit both you and them.
Noticing Social Engineering Schemes
This is one of the vital topics for any cybersecurity training, as social engineering is, at its core, the art of manipulating people to give up confidential information. It is quite popular, as it is usually easier to exploit a person’s natural inclination to trust someone than to devise ways to hack their devices. For instance, fooling someone into giving you their password is easier than attempting to hack their password (unless it is really weak). In that sense, cybersecurity concerning social engineering attacks is all about knowing who, what and when to trust. Discerning when and when not to take a person at their word and when the person they are communicating with is who they claim to be, is one of the critical skills that people should take away from this part of the training. The same goes for website usage – they should learn when it is safe to trust that the website they are visiting is legitimate.
Proper Device Security
This topic is very important because cybersecurity can be put at risk before a person in the organization even turns on their device. Employees must know how to protect their own and company-issued devices, even when they’re not online.
This topic should cover subjects of different ways a device can be protected. For instance, all of them should have a password and an automatic screen lock turned on. Moreover, the subject should also include the ones that might seem dull or boring at first glance – such as not to plug in unverified USBs in their devices, which can still pose a threat.
Safe Social Media Habits
Most people reveal information about their work and personal lives on social media without thinking twice. This tendency to overshare poses a significant threat to both private and organizational cybersecurity. Cybercriminals can use social media to prepare and perform social engineering attacks.
Another social media danger to be aware of is malware. Clickbait posts, which often appear on social media, can lure people from your organization to visit unsecured websites that can, in turn, infect their personal or work computers and even your entire network.
Sensitive Data Protection
It is crucial to keep in mind that sensitive data is broadly defined. It covers various data types, from customer data and accounts passwords to future marketing strategies, trade secrets, and financial reports. If a company accidentally has its sensitive data leaked, it can cost them customer trust, a significant amount of money, and even their competitive advantage.
For this reason, every person in the organization should be aware of sensitive data and good practices regarding its security. This includes how to store data and how to handle it – for instance, protection using encryption and passwords, as well as backing up.
The measures taken by experts in the cybersecurity field to drive away potential threats is irreplaceable. However, making sure the people in your organization are trained to prevent some of the possible attacks is a great way to ensure that no cybersecurity incident will endanger the integrity of your organization. If you have decided to take this step to improve your organization’s security, the i4 Group is here to help you! Contact them today and take your cybersecurity to the next level.