The Importance of Employee Training in IT Security

The Importance of Employee Training in IT Security

Protecting your IT environment against cyberattack requires a blend of security tools and constant vigilance. It’s important to note, however, that the best security tools on the market cannot stop every security threat. Every employee in your organization needs to understand the critical role they play in preventing cyberattacks and protecting sensitive data.

Fact is, the weakest link in the security chain continues to be human beings. The use of email phishing scams and social engineering – a method in which hackers interact with employees to gather the information they need to carry out cyberattacks – is expanding. All it takes is one employee clicking on one malicious link to give hackers access to your network.

After all, cybercriminals just want access to data, and the easiest way to gain access is through employees, not by trying to defeat advanced security software. According to the 2017 Data Security Incident Response Report from BakerHostetler, employee actions and mistakes were the cause of 32 percent of security incidents, second only to phishing, hacking and malware at 43 percent. Of course, phishing and malware attacks are often successful because an employee clicks on a link or downloads a malicious file.

The increased targeting of employees underscores the need for security awareness training. Uneducated, untrained employees make the hacker’s job easy. Too many people bring a “share everything” mentality to the workplace, connect with people they don’t know, fail to log out of their accounts, and give their passwords to others without considering the consequences.

Formal training, documented policies, and enforcement of these policies, are essential to not only improving network security, but also ensuring regulatory compliance. All too often, security and compliance are assumed to be the responsibility of a select few. However, individual employees who violate compliance regulations due to carelessness or ignorance can bring heavy penalties on their employers while potentially compromising private information.

A security awareness program should include both general best practices and the specific responsibilities of individual employees. In addition to increasing understanding of phishing and other hacking methods, organizations should establish procedures for reporting a suspected breach to minimize its impact. Security should be covered in training for new employees and in ongoing refresher training for all employees. In fact, security awareness programs are now required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other regulatory standards.

Many security awareness programs focus on topics that aren’t particularly relevant to employees. Organizations need to better understand the kinds of threats employees typically encounter in order to maximize the effectiveness of training.

The KnowBe4 security awareness training program helps organizations address the human element of security by raising awareness of ransomware, CEO fraud and other social engineering tactics. Security consultant Kevin Mitnick helped design KnowBe4’s training based on the social engineering tactics he once used to commit computer crimes. Organizations use KnowBe4 to train their workforce to make smarter security decisions and create a human firewall as a last line of defense. Verteks offers the KnowBe4 security awareness training program on a subscription basis.

Security is an all-hands-on-deck, around-the-clock process. Every employee needs to be vigilant, and every organization needs to provide its employees with the necessary training to prevent a security breach. Let Verteks help you assess your security risks and develop a commonsense strategy for protecting your systems and data.