The 8 Most Important Topics to Include in a Solid Employee IT Security Training Program
Every organization knows how vital employees are to the success of the business. But many don’t realize that employees are also the most important component of their IT security. Cyber attackers, on the other hand, know that employees are the weakest link in the security chain, and use that unchecked vulnerability to their advantage.
According to a recent survey by Kaspersky Lab, 49% of employees know that they play an important role in the cyber security of their organization, but only 12% are aware of their company’s IT security rules and policies. It’s no wonder that 46% of IT security breaches are caused by human error.
The best solution to this problem is implementing an effective IT security training program for employees. Such a program should cover the organization’s security policies and rules, as well as provide best practices on how to avoid the most common security failures.
The goal is to help employees become security aware without overwhelming them. To help with that we’ve created a list of the most important topics that a solid security training program should cover. For each, we discuss why the topic is important and the goal that learning this topic will accomplish.
1. The Importance of IT Security Awareness
Why: Most employees believe that cyber-attacks are random and that the chances of getting attacked is slim. This topic should explain the possible impact of successful cyber-attacks on the organization, and their own lives.
Goal: Employees should understand why IT security training is so important, and the consequences of not being knowledgeable and vigilant. They should also understand that they are vulnerable to attacks even when they are not at work, and need to apply the same vigilance at home.
2. Social Engineering
Why: The most severe cyber-attacks launched against business organizations use some form of social engineering. This topic should explain what social engineering is, how it works, and provide relevant examples.
Goal: By understanding how social engineering works employees can take steps to protect themselves and guard against future attacks. It also lays the foundation for the other topics since social engineering is used to fuel many different kinds of attacks.
3. Email Security
Why: Email phishing attacks are the most common attacks that cyber criminals deploy. This topic should discuss how to identify suspicious emails, what to do when they identify these emails, and other best practices for guarding against email scams and malware.
Goal: If employees learn how to consistently identify suspicious emails, they will be able to present a strong defense against business email compromise and other phishing scams, not only at work but also at home.
4. Safe Internet Browsing
Why: Even if employees don’t use the Internet for their job functions, they most likely use the Internet at home. This topic should discuss best practices for avoiding malware, malicious sites, and other vulnerabilities.
Goal: We’ve already established how social engineering works and how at home Internet activities still pose a risk to the company. By learning how to keep themselves safe whether they are browsing at home or at work, incidents of malware, and other vulnerabilities can be prevented.
5. Facility Security
Why: Apart from the organization’s computers and handheld devices, employees also need to be trained in securing the physical facilities. This includes access to the building, sensitive document storage areas, and equipment rooms.
Many security breaches result from employees holding secure doors open for individuals they deem to be contractors, because the person is wearing a hard hat, or carrying tools. Attackers use this method of impersonation to gain access to facilities to get data for social engineering attacks or even plant network sniffers, and rogue access points.
Furthermore, employees need to be trained to keep an eye out for facility vulnerabilities such as unauthorized visitors, key card enabled doors being unlocked, or security cameras that are broken, and immediately report them.
Goal: When employees play an active role in premises security, it presents and even stronger layer of protection against security breaches. The facility may have a security team, but they can’t see or monitor everything. Having the entire workforce as their eyes and ears will enable them to detect issues and act on them faster.
6. Password Best Practices
Why: Many organizations employ multi-step authentication to add another layer of security, in addition to the usual usernames and passwords. However, password best practices are still a very important topic because this applies not only to work accounts, but also personal accounts which might not be protected by multi-step authentication. This topic should cover best practices for creating, managing and protecting passwords.
Goal: If employees follow strict best practices for creating, managing, and protecting passwords, it will make it much harder for cyber criminals to compromise their personal accounts, as well as their company accounts.
7. Work Area Security Best Practices
Why: Work area security refers to procedures employees need to follow in order to block unauthorized access to sensitive documents, removable media, and electronic devices in their work space. Topics should include clean desk policies, security policies for removable media, computers, mobile phones and tablets, and also spatial awareness practices to guard against prying eyes.
Goal: Employees should understand the different actions they need to take to ensure that sensitive company documents, and devices are not exposed to potential attackers. They should also be aware of the consequences of not following these procedures and policies.
8. How to Recognize if they Have Been Compromised
Why: It’s important for employees to be able to recognize when they have fallen prey to an attack. The faster the security team can respond to an incident, the less the impact of the incident. This topic should cover how they can detect if they have been compromised, or under attack, and how to report it.
Goal: Employees need to learn that attacks can happen to anyone. They also need to understand that reporting anything suspicious immediately can be the difference between a small incident and a severe disaster.
It can be difficult to decide what topics to focus on in a security awareness training program because there are so many important topics. The key is to decide what topics are the most important to the security of your organization. Remember, the goal is to ensure that employees are taking an active role in the defense of the organization. By limiting the training to the most essential topics you can avoid overwhelming them and get a better result from the training.
If you need help with creating a custom IT security training program for your employees, ask your Outsource IT account manager about our different employee security training options.