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Cybersecurity awareness training should be a part of every company’s onboarding routine for all workers. Whether they are in-office or remote employees, all employees benefit from more than a reminder to keep passwords safe! Cyber-attacks are more sophisticated than ever before and frightfully common. Spirion estimates there is 1 new attack every 10 seconds (source). All companies need to take a hard look at their onboarding and ongoing awareness training processes to improve their cybersecurity preparedness.
You can have the best IT security software there is, but when you provide online cybersecurity awareness training for employees, you get a critical layer of protection. Here are a few more reasons why it is important to arm your workforce with cybersecurity skills and knowledge.
1) Most people cannot identify phishing emails
In a newly released report by a cyber protection company, it was revealed that phishing sites like to impersonate financial services the most. Indeed, they made up 35% of phishing pages in 2021. The brands they prefer to masquerade as in the financial sector include PayPal, Wells Fargo, and Chase. Of late, they have acquired the taste for LinkedIn, showcasing their dedication to their new target with a phishing slink attack.
This is alarming because, globally, 97% of people cannot identify phishing emails (Source). That is why training remote employees in cybersecurity is important. Awareness training is a crucial line of defense in any company. Did you know that on average, ~3% of your employees will click on a link in a malicious email? They do so for three reasons: first, the email looks very legitimate. Secondly, they haven’t been taught how to spot the tell-tale signs of a phishing email. Thirdly, employees are often convinced the email came from a higher up inside your company. They have no choice but to comply now.
Even if they use their own devices to access phishing emails or pages, your company can still be affected. After all, they store their credentials on their computers or mobile devices. And cyber attackers can use those to get to the organization’s data.
2) Workers might unknowingly install vulnerable third-party software
Bring-your-own-device or BYOD policies are becoming more popular in the workplace. Businesses are discovering its benefits, especially in the area of costs, since with BYOD you don’t need to provide a separate laptop or smartphone to your employees. Most of all, it is beneficial since 75% of employees are already using their own phones for work.
That is good news because the same research reports that employees are more productive if they use their own mobile devices for work. The only downside here is a potential cybersecurity one. Many employees use their personal devices for work without letting their IT department know. They install any and all applications on their phones and computers from any website they happen across. As a business employee or perhaps an owner, are you confident all your employees can tell a good download website from a bad one?
This can open a slew of attack points against the owner of the device as well as the company. Attackers could exploit a malicious download to gain access to sensitive information such as login credentials. From there they can begin spying on a company’s internal processes.
In this case, a well-informed cybersecurity-aware employee will be more careful about what they install on their device(s). With awareness training on these risks, your staff stands a much better chance of preventing harm to themselves or their company.
3) Illegal downloads may come with malware
Streaming services are everywhere these days. Still, there are people who would forgo paying for these services in favor of downloading movies illegally instead. After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Okay – that’s a rather old saying but it still fits perfectly.
The trouble is, with free milk comes malware. The issue was front and center with a recent Marvel movie release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Cybersecurity researchers discovered that many of the pirated movie downloads contained malware, specifically cryptocurrency mining malware.
Users are duped into downloading a malicious movie file, thinking that they are getting an illegal copy of the latest installment of Spider-Man. Once installed, this malware takes up a computer’s total spare power and capacity greatly reducing system performance. This can negatively affect system performance, especially if they regularly use heavy-duty software that requires much computing power.
4) Cybercriminals are watching employees
In most companies today, employees have access to everything. Such visibility helps an employee keep an eye on workflows and step in to lend a hand in resolving issues as soon as they arise.
Unfortunately, these same privileged users are a favorite target of hackers. It is so bad that a tech giant’s whitepaper has referred to them as “your biggest vulnerability.” Insiders have been shown to be responsible for 60% of all attacks in their respective organizations (Source: Harvard Business review). That is because once cyber attackers get a foothold in a business, they can execute attacks easily from the inside.
The best way to circumvent this is to limit access privileges to minimum essential for job function. Follow a zero-trust framework inside your organization. And most importantly, train your users on the most common attacks to prevent hackers from getting a wedge in the door to your business.
5) Workers may be sharing sensitive information unwittingly
One way that remote workers may be putting their organizations at risk is by posting pictures of their workspace online. Employers are generally not strict about this, since it would be the workers’ private space being put on social media anyway. However, they could be unwittingly posting sensitive information online by doing so.
Sharp-eyed ne’er-do-wells may be able to spot things on desks that can be used against the employee or the company. If it is not documents or notes, there could be other things in the photos or videos that hackers could use. This inadequacy in social media discretion is a security challenge for many businesses today.
Other employees accept any and all friend requests without truly knowing the person. These same employees are often the ones over-sharing on their same social media accounts about major new initiatives or critical project deadlines keeping them up at night. Enterprising hackers then craft devastating spear-phishing attacks against employees with terrible consequences.
That is why in preparing the best cybersecurity training for employees, remote or otherwise, social media discretion and awareness on common mistakes should be included.
6) Remote employees access confidential resources via the cloud
The dark web market is a thriving one. Actors are selling cloud accounts and resources illegally acquired for as little as three dollars (Source). These black market hawkers are offering direct access to an organization’s cloud resources to conduct illegal activities for very little money.
Since remote workers are accessing company data via the cloud, they could be easy targets. This is true for all corporate cloud activities. Even secure accounting software solutions that you use online can be targeted if there is even a single ounce of carelessness.
Your organization can put in place policies to secure these activities. But employees have to play a proactive role, too. They need to be careful how and where they access cloud accounts to prevent attackers from discovering and exploiting vulnerabilities.
Provide employees with a Password Manager and training on the importance of strong password hygiene to help them avoid the mistake of using the same password everywhere they go. That way, if one Cloud provider is breached and hackers obtain a password, that password is not useful anywhere else. Too often today, remote workers aren’t trained on strong passwords, password managers, and the dark web marketplace selling our credentials for profit. Teaching them these facts helps them readily adopt robust cybersecurity practices that protect themselves personally and professionally. But more importantly, these practices help protect your business from harm.
Making cloud security best practices and the proper tools a part of your company’s onboarding training and standard practices.
Training and Prevention Trumps Mitigation
Training employees on how to be safe on the web will always cost less than fixing the damages from a cyber attack. Companies can urge individuals to get cybersecurity awareness training for employees for as little as $25 per month. Even if the price range shoots up to $500 or more, it would still be a bargain compared to the loss an organization experiences from a breach.
By training your remote employees in cybersecurity, you can greatly reduce the chance of an attack happening. One-time training may not be enough, just as one trip to the gym won’t address your physical fitness. Cybersecurity needs to be practiced and learned over time at regular intervals. It is vitally important to provide workers with regular updates, awareness topics, and tips to keep themselves informed and prepared. Employees and companies who require a regular cybersecurity workout become much more fit and difficult to hack; so much so, that hackers often move on to easier targets.
Will you make cybersecurity awareness training a priority in your organization, not just for onboarding new employees, but part of everyone’s regular routine? You’ll be happy you did.