A Guide to Cybersecurity Training for Businesses

Published September 19, 2023
by Jordan Hickam

It’s no secret that harmful cyberattacks, data breaches, and other cybersecurity incidents are rising. As organizations of all sizes and in every industry rely more on cloud services to conduct business, cyberattacks focused directly on company infrastructure aren’t the only cause for concern. Well-meaning yet untrained staff can pose significant cybersecurity risks, although many small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may underestimate their insider threats. Training staff on cybersecurity basics and honing employees’ readiness to recognize cyber threats can help businesses mitigate risks and protect their interests.

According to research compiled by TechJury, more than 34% of businesses are affected by internal cyber threats yearly, and insider incidents increased by nearly 50% from 2020 to 2022. While financial gain from fraud or intellectual property theft may motivate disgruntled employees or contractors to take advantage of their access privileges, more than two-thirds of insider threat incidents are caused by simple negligence, and more than 91% of data breaches result from user errors. 

Demand for cybersecurity awareness training has grown, especially with SMEs that have yet to hire in-house cybersecurity experts. Every company, regardless of size, should prioritize the following four practices when training employees in cybersecurity:

  1. Protecting Passwords and Sensitive Data
    According to the Swiss Cyber Institute, 53% of respondents in a recent survey reported their organizations had suffered data breaches directly related to mismanaged employee usernames and passwords. 

    Basic, simple sequence passwords such as “password,” “qwerty,” or “12345” are easy to guess and should never be used. During employee cybersecurity training, emphasize the importance of strong, unique passwords. Encourage the use of password managers to store and generate complex passwords securely. Furthermore, multi-factor authentication tools can help prevent up to 90% of cyberattacks.

    A similar level of security should be applied to protecting an organization’s customer data and private or proprietary information. Ensure that employees understand the best practices for securely handling and storing data such as encrypting files, conducting regular backups, and properly disposing of sensitive physical documents.
  1. Avoiding Phishing Attempts and Deceptive Requests
    Over two-thirds of accidental insider incidents come from phishing attacks, which remain among the oldest and most effective ways for cybercriminals to penetrate networks and access essential business data. 

    Emails are the most common delivery method for phishing attacks by tricking users into clicking unknown links, downloading corrupt file attachments, or responding with confidential information. Unsolicited requests for sensitive data can also come via phone calls, text messages, or other channels, with cybercriminals often posing as company executives or customers making seemingly legitimate requests. 

    Educate employees on safe browsing habits—avoiding suspicious websites, not clicking on pop-up ads, only transmitting sensitive information over secure Wi-Fi networks, etc.—training them to be overly cautious of unsolicited requests and immediately report suspicious activities. Encourage team members to promptly disclose potential security incidents or vulnerabilities through a process in which they’re comfortable reporting potential threats without fear of reprisal.
  1. Maintaining Security for Company and Personal Devices
    Unsecure computers, smartphones, and tablets can be gateways into an SME’s internal networks and systems, whether using company-issued technology or personal devices. Teach employees to secure their devices, but also emphasize security updates and device encryption whenever applicable. 

    Establish clear guidelines and policies regarding using employees’ devices for professional purposes. Train them to separate personal activities from those that are work-related and use only devices and networks they trust, especially when working remotely and accessing company cloud systems. 
  1. Keep Policies Updated and Regularly Train Employees 
    Employee cybersecurity training isn’t a simple “sit-and-get” or “one-and-done” exercise. Cybersecurity threats evolve rapidly, with new phishing tactics and other cybercriminal methods evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Regularly review and update policies and set aside time to go over them with employees. Onboarding new employees should always include cybersecurity training.

    Make sure every staff member is aware of company policies and procedures regardless of their day-to-day involvement with company technology and cybersecurity infrastructure. Provide clear guidelines on acceptable uses of company resources, password protection policies, safe email protocols, and secure data handling practices. Consider conducting simulated cyberattack training for all employees to demonstrate the impact of the latest risks and teach best practices.

RAMPxchange: Discover Cybersecurity Partners You Can Trust 

Full-time specialty staff or robust cybersecurity resources may not be viable for every SME, further emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity awareness training for employees throughout an organization. Enhancing employees’ awareness of cybersecurity issues and common threats helps build a stronger overall cybersecurity culture. SMEs can also benefit significantly from connecting with security-minded service providers and partners through the RAMPxchange marketplace. Contact us today to learn more and join our growing coalition of private- and public-sector organizations dedicated to developing a stronger cybersecurity posture.