Held yearly, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month for many nationals worldwide. And with more than 4 billion people accessing the internet at any given time, experts say that the world wide web can pose a security threat for anyone. For instance, let’s consider iSecure LLC as one of those cloud security givers.
Whereby, iSecure LLC has spent more than a decade protecting both its within reach and outside clients. And its President Annette Warren says that security threats don’t just happen in the office. Threats can come in many different forms. That’s why it’s important to know the risks and take steps to protect yourself.
From what you should share online to protecting your privacy on social media, iSecure offers simple ways to stay online. To learn more about how they can help you can visit them at iSecurenet.net.
What Is Cyber Security Awareness?
Technically, Internet Security Awareness or Cyber Security Awareness refers to how much end-users know about the Cyber Security Threats their networks face. As well as the risks they introduce, and mitigating security best practices to guide their behavior. Organizations could also seek to reduce the risk of the human element (end users).
From infiltrations on infrastructure and data breaches to spear phishing and brute force. Online threats are varied and they don’t discriminate organizations from individuals when looking for a target. You’ve likely heard the term “cyber threat” thrown around in the media. But what exactly are these cyber threats?
By the same token, Cyber Threats (Cybersecurity Threats) are malicious acts that seek to damage data, steal data, or disrupt digital life in general. Cyber-attacks include threats like Computer Viruses, Malware, Password Attacks, Data Breaches, Phishing, SQL Injection, Man in the Middle (MITM), Denial of Service (DoS), etc.
In the 1950s, the word “cyber” referred to cybernetics – the science of understanding the control and movement of machines and animals. This was followed by “cyber” standing for “computerized.” The 1990s brought around a new cyber-related term.
The word “Cyberspace” emerged to define an invented physical space that some people wanted to believe existed behind the electronic activities of computing devices. Today, the term is almost exclusively used to describe information security matters.
When Is Cyber Security Awareness Month?
Every year since 2003 October has been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This effort was brought to life through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. NCSAM was created to ensure that every individual stays safe and secure online.
When Cybersecurity Awareness Month first began, the awareness efforts centered around various forms of advice. Like updating your antivirus software twice a year. In order to mirror similar efforts around changing batteries – like in smoke alarms during daylight saving time.
Okay, let’s talk about criminal hacking, ransomware infections, and the technologies to prevent them. As such, the key to protecting your organization is cyber security awareness training. Indeed, according to Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, 23% of data breaches were caused by human error.
My guess is that you’re still wondering why your employees pose such a big risk. Or rather, how cybersecurity awareness month can come in handy with details to protect yourselves. Well, I’ll explain everything you need to know in this blog guide. But first, let’s learn more about the genesis of cybersecurity awareness month.
The History of Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Eventually, in 2009, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano launched Cybersecurity Awareness Month at an event in Washington, D.C. Becoming the highest-ranking government official to participate in the month’s activities.
Subsequently, in the following years, quite a lot has occurred. Ever since, the leading administration officials from DHS, the White House, and other agencies have regularly participated in such events. Back in 2010, the kickoff of Cybersecurity Awareness Month also included the launch of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. CAMPAIGN too.
President Obama’s proclamation for the month includes STOP. THINK. CONNECT. as the cybersecurity education and awareness message. Also in 2010, NCSA began moving the launch of the month to sites around the country. Starting in 2011, NCSA and DHS developed the concept of weekly themes during the month as shown below.
This NCSA and DHS idea was based on feedback from various stakeholders. That the many aspects of cybersecurity should be better articulated. Whilst, making it easier for other groups to align with specific themes.
In the US the month is active in; Seattle, Bellevue, WA, Ypsilanti, MI, Omaha, NE, Boston, MA, Nashville, TN, Washington, D.C., and many more states. Some of the key themes have included education, cybercrime, law enforcement, mobility, critical infrastructure, and small and medium-sized businesses.
The collaboration of NCSA and DHS on Cybersecurity Awareness Month is one of the many successful public-private partnerships that are so critical to cybersecurity.
Why Cyber Security Awareness Is Important
In the first place, any organization’s staff is essential to its day-to-day operations. For one thing, they represent the business, deal with customers and handle sensitive data. Thus, if they fail to adequately protect that information or violate data subject rights, your organization faces myriad problems.
Not forgetting, such data and information is protected by the likes of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Including regulatory action and potentially sizable fines, as well as long-term reputational damage. What if customers and other stakeholders don’t trust you to handle information responsibly?
Of course, they may just move to your competitor for similar or even related business service solutions. Meanwhile, depending on the nature of the data breach, you could suffer various forms of disruption. For example, should employees fall for a phishing scam, their accounts could be compromised.
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Not to mention, through just a single infiltration, the attacker may as well target other members of staff too. Similarly, employees with poor password practices could jeopardize the security of their accounts alike. Or rather, the confidentiality of sensitive files.
Although there are technologies that can mitigate the risk, our Cyber Security Awareness Month stipulates a few methods to secure yourselves. Ultimately, you need to be reliant on employees to use them appropriately. As well as to avoid mistakes that undermine the security practices you have in place.
Technically, cyber security training is the most effective way of educating your employees on the risks they should avoid. As well as the steps they should take if they are unsure about what to do in certain scenarios. For such reasons, that’s why Cyber Security Awareness Month is important.
Cyber Security Awareness Month Best Practices
Basically, Cyber Security Awareness Month is all about a reminder of what needs to be done security-wise. Whether it’s online or offline. Bearing in mind, an effective staff awareness program should complement the way people work.
Rather than creating rules that hinder employees’ ability to get their jobs done. The objective is to support them in obtaining the skills and knowledge required to work. As well as to be all-knowing when to raise any concerns. So what do you need to know? Well, consider the following key strategies to implement in your security plan.
1. All employees at every level of the organization should receive training
Of course, no one is immune from mistakes or from being targeted by scammers. In fact, senior employees are proportionally more likely to be targeted by scammers. With the likes of business email compromise schemes. Simply, because they represent higher-value targets.
2. Training should occur multiple times a year
Staff awareness training must be performed regularly. In order to ensure that the knowledge is embedded. To demonstrate, let’s take a research case scenario of the importance of this. From a study presented at the USENIX SOUPS security conference, last year. Well, it found that employees who went six months or more without phishing awareness training become increasingly prone to phishing. And, therefore, they’re very likely to fall victim to scams. Besides, you too should consider how your employees work.
3. In terms of how your employees work, the main questions to ask are;
One, what are your employees’ workflows? And, two, what obstacles do they face when performing certain activities? Basically, knowing the answers to these questions will help you understand the types of awareness training they need. To help you do this, you should ensure people with knowledge of the local working environments are included. More so, in creating cyber security policies. These are the day-to-day rules that employees should follow – in addition to the guidelines outlined in your awareness training courses.
4. Don’t be overly critical when employees make mistakes
As a matter of fact, it’s very tempting to strongly reprimand anyone who makes an error – despite receiving awareness training. However, experts warn against this. Always remember, employees, are rarely motivated by fear. Thus, it will make them less likely to report mistakes when they occur. Although you should be strict about employees taking awareness training. Ideally, these courses should come with tests to ensure that staff has understood the content – you should use errors as a learning experience.
5. Look for ways to complement staff awareness training
On the other hand, there are still things you can do in addition to training courses – to boost your staff’s understanding of cyber security. For instance, you might consider placing posters around the office. That’s if you’re still office-based – or creating email signatures containing security tips.
Likewise, pocket guides, presentations, and learning nudges provide more additional ways too. More so, in order to bolster your staff’s knowledge of Cyber Security Threats that comes in handy as well.
How To Implement A Cyber Security Awareness Strategy
Technically, creating a staff awareness training course from scratch is a very tough task. And, as a result, that’s why many organizations choose to outsource the process. Not to mention, the courses should cover a broad range of topics.
Including general information security best practices, the threat of phishing, and GDPR compliance. So, is your organization among those moving to remote working on a part- or full-time basis? Well, you should also consider some of the key staff awareness training courses to begin with.
More so, that specifically looks at the threats of home working. Whilst, keeping in mind, almost every ICT Governance understands both the importance and the benefits of these courses. Below are the key tips to help you get your cyber security awareness program started:
(1). Consider the best approach and key requirements
By all means, when it comes to staff awareness, the one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate for all organizations. For your staff awareness training program to succeed, you’ll need to first consider all the diverse needs. As well as the culture of your business and tailor the training accordingly.
(2). Set program metrics to easily measure success
But, before you implement a staff awareness program, you need to ensure it can succeed. And then, decide how to measure that success. Meaning, you must decide on all key and needful metrics you’ll require or use. Then, thereafter, take measurements to determine a benchmark before you start.
(3). Be thorough in your staff’s awareness training
Beware, staff awareness training for the GDPR does not mean simply briefing your employees about the regulation. Instead, it should comprise a thorough but considerate program. In general, that ensures all employees understand your organization’s solid practices. As well as the procedures for processing personal data.
(4). Engage your staff
Next, engaging staff training is critical to your program’s success. Not to mention, incorporating them thought-provoking activities will also give your staff a clear understanding of the key changes. More so, those introduced by the GDPR and the requirements that will affect their day-to-day work. One such great and common technique to make security awareness programs more engaging for participants is ‘gamification.’ Whereby, it uses behavioral motivators taken from games. Such as rewards, competition, and loss aversion.
(5). Focus on behavior, not knowledge
Equally important, to change their behavior, employees need to understand how the content applies to them in their everyday roles. But, in order to bridge the gap between knowing and doing, it’s essential to provide your staff with context for what they are learning. As well as clear and realistic examples they can follow. By doing so, you’ll help foster a much-needed cultural shift. A culture in which security becomes a part of everyday operations.
(6). Time it right and Play the long game
There may be an urgent need to train your workforce, but this doesn’t mean your awareness program should be deployed in haste. Instead, consider a phased rollout, allowing you to meet some immediate requirements, after which you can refine and improve the program. For long-term success, your staff awareness program should be an ongoing process. In particular, that begins at induction. Then again, reinforced by regular updates throughout the year and/or whenever staff-related security incidents occur.
How To Choose A Staff Awareness Training Provider
As you’ll notice, the (Complete Staff Awareness E-learning Suite) package contains all the basic e-learning programs. Obviously, when combined with your continual awareness campaign will boost your employees’ understanding of a range of topics. And as an annual package, you can roll courses out throughout the year.
Particularly, in order to keep staff awareness as a central part of your business. Whilst, avoiding the risk of overloading employees with too much training in one go. On one side, since the combined efforts of NCSA and DHS have been taking place, the month has grown in reach and participation.
On the other side, the awareness operates in many respects as a grassroots campaign. Not forgetting, the month’s effort has grown to include the participation of a multitude of industry participants. Especially, those that engage their customers, employees, and the general public in awareness.
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It has even considered college campuses, nonprofits, and other groups as well. Did you know that between 2009 and 2018, the month’s theme was “Our Shared Responsibility?”
The theme reflected the role that we all – from large enterprises to individual computer users – have in securing the digital assets in their control. Meaning, although Cyber Security Awareness Month runs in October, each year, it’s role play should go on each and every day.
Pro Tip: Since we are a good associate of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month for allowing the writing of this blog, there’s some good news for you! And, as such, you can save up to 15% on toolkits, self-paced training, and staff awareness e-learning courses. That’s if you’ll use our referral code NCSAM15.
You may also consider:
- E-learning 12-month Support Package
- GDPR and Data Protection Act Staff Awareness E-learning Course
- Cyber Security for Remote Workers Staff Awareness E-learning Course
- Simulated Phishing Attack and Staff Awareness Training Programme
- IT Governance Resource Hub | Free resources on various subject areas
That’s it, ladies and gentlemen! The key to protecting your organization is no other than cyber security awareness training. So, go ahead and create a solid security strategy for your business using some of our guides above. But, do you think the awareness is useful to you, your organization, or even your team force?
Well, feel free to share your opinion thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, or questions in our comments section. But, if you’ll need more support from our Cyber Security Awareness team, you can Contact Us and let us know we can help you. Now that you’ve learned quite a lot from the guideline above.