User Awareness Training – What is it and why do you need it?

The number one security risk for businesses is people. Regardless of the network configuration you have in place, the number of firewalls, anti-malware, and demilitarized zones (DMZs) you employ, or the type of permission controls you use, human error remains the biggest threat to the safety of your network. Your system is vulnerable because many employees aren’t familiar with your acceptable use policy and sometimes, people just make mistakes. Enter user awareness training strategies.

What is User Awareness Training?

Making sure that users have access to the resources they need isn’t just about passwords and system hierarchy permissions. They need to personally understand the risks, and how those risks translate into their own job security. User awareness training teaches users about the type of threats designed to infiltrate your company’s network, how to spot them, and how to recognize dangerous activities.

To establish a comprehensive network security plan, businesses must include user awareness training. The process involves a series of steps, that when executed faithfully, are instrumental in preventing phishing attacks like the latest WannaCry ransomware epidemic. A few of the ongoing training and testing steps include:

  • Baseline tests. These determine the level of user knowledge concerning the many threats that exist, like fake emails. It’s a good starting point for any company, whether they’ve performed training before, or not.
  • Exposure and spoofing checks. The more public your company’s emails, the more available they are to hackers for manipulation. Likewise, you need to know if criminals can initiate emails using those addresses to make them appear internal.
  • User training. In addition to becoming versed in your acceptable use policy, your users should be periodically taught to become security conscious. Meaning that they understand how to safely handle data, physical security elements, and recognize suspicious cyber behavior on a number of topics.

User training in cyber security is an ongoing process. You can’t simply have one meeting and expect the information to stick. Users must be constantly versed in device, browsing, and email security best practices. Moreover, your network should be configured for optimum security in order to prevent potential customer data exposure.

Why is User Awareness Important?

There are a number of methods used by hackers to infiltrate your network. The total damage of cybercrime for 2015, according to complaints received by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), amounted to over one billion dollars. Using phishing scams, such as employees clicking on an attachment that contains malware or a fake email, social engineering ploys, dumpster diving, or other techniques, criminals take advantage of the weakest link in your network protection plan, the users.

The constant struggle between availability and security makes it difficult to control every action users take. However, you can help decrease the chance of becoming a victim and increase methods for protecting your data through user awareness training.