The human element plays such a pivotal role in cybersecurity that the theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022 centers around “See Yourself in Cyber.” At a business level, one of the most powerful ways to strengthen your security strategy is to invest in and improve cybersecurity training and awareness programs—here’s why.
A recently commissioned study here at Nuspire on the top CISO buying trends found that end-users are a significant concern point for decision-makers. In fact, 50 percent of surveyed CISOs and IT decision-makers cited human error as the primary reason for IT vulnerabilities.
It’s not that the employees who use IT systems are inherently incompetent or reckless. But cybersecurity knowledge doesn’t come naturally to most people. Good cyber practices require training in and ongoing awareness of how to safely use systems and avoid common scams.
Training provides the knowledge for users to avoid misconfigurations, better secure their accounts, safely handle sensitive data and evade social engineering attacks. But without transforming learning materials into practice through ongoing awareness, efforts to bolster the human element in cyber defenses are likely to fall short. When users are trained but not aware, they often forget in the moment about avoiding the behaviors that would compromise cybersecurity or acting wisely and cautiously.
The strange contrast in modern cybersecurity is that despite the proliferation of advanced (and useful tools) to protect systems and data, successful attacks often exploit mistakes in user behavior. Social engineering attacks are particularly effective at using psychological manipulation to exploit untrained users.
When considering the human element in cybersecurity, you’ll often see resources focusing on threats from malicious insiders who purposefully exfiltrate data or install malware on their own employers’ systems. These stories perhaps gain more media traction due to the almost movie-like narrative of employees going rogue.
However, unintentional threats from people acting without sufficient knowledge or awareness represent the bulk of cyber risks internally for businesses. Addressing the human threat makes investing in better training and awareness programs a necessity.
To get more of a flavor of the behaviors people engage in and the consequences that follow when cybersecurity training and awareness programs are either ineffective or neglected, let’s take a look at three high-profile breaches caused directly by human error.
Here are some tips on what to incorporate into your training and awareness programs to improve knowledge about cyber threats and ensure mindfulness of best practices.
When cybersecurity training and awareness programs don’t work, it’s often because they are allowed to stagnate. Completing the bare minimum level of mandatory training modules is seen more as a box to tick and satisfy internal IT compliance teams. Improving your program starts by reviewing it regularly and evaluating its performance by collecting useful metrics. Here are some ideas to consider.
It’s vital to put people at the heart of your cybersecurity strategy. In a company with a strong cybersecurity culture and effective training and awareness, you can mitigate against some of the most common attacks that still work with startling regularity at even the largest companies.