For modern-day business operations, network security is essential to protect critical business data, prevent unauthorized access to systems, and defend private networks from theft and cyber attacks. Although businesses spend a considerable amount of money to network security measures, one of the most significant and unfortunately overlooked threats is often employees.
Employees are increasingly becoming the weakest link in regard to network security, especially when you look at the number of data breaches caused by human error or negligence. For this reason, the importance of the human factor in network security should never be undermined. Today, we will explain why employees play a huge role in network security and provide tips to organizations to improve their training programs.
Why employee awareness is critical for network security
The Importance of Employee Awareness in Network Security
The primary target of most cyber attacks is usually the employees. Cybercriminals excelled in social engineering techniques to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information, or their credentials to be used in systems. This makes the employees the weakest link in a network security structure since they have access to sensitive data, which is at risk of being exposed as a result of employee error.
Employees may also harm the security of a private network by accidentally downloading malware or clicking malicious links that contain harmful scripts. Data breaches resulting in such negligence can have damaging consequences such as loss of revenue, legal liabilities, or stolen company information.
In order to mitigate risks related to employee error, companies must prioritize employee awareness of network security. They should educate employees on the current cybersecurity risks and how to avoid them. It is also essential to set up training programs for new hires to teach proper password management and ways to avoid phishing attacks and social engineering tactics.
Lastly, if companies want to keep employee awareness high at all times, they need to have an ongoing training schedule so the employees are always up-to-date with the latest threats. By investing in these training sessions, companies can minimize the risk of a human error-caused data breach.
Employee Training Programs
Setting up an effective employee training program is an integral part to improve awareness and mitigate the cyber risks associated with human error. If you want to have an effective training program, you need to provide employees with the knowledge and network security solutions necessary to identify and minimize cyber threats.
In terms of the content of the training program, you need to cover various aspects of network security. These include password management, social engineering tactics, phishing attacks, and safe browsing techniques. With that being said, the content of the training program will and should vary depending on the specific needs of the company.
The delivery is critical to the success of the training program. It should engage the employees and allow for their active participation of them. At the end of the day, they are the ones who will practice their learnings, so the program should be inclusive. A good delivery means interactive training sessions, real-world examples, and simulations.
Network security training should always be ongoing. New employees need to have this training as a part of their company onboarding, and the existing employees should have it regularly to keep up with emerging threats. For the current employees, regular training sessions will reinforce their knowledge while also getting them ready for recent risks.
One of the best ways to track the effectiveness of a training program is by measuring employee participation, engagement, and knowledge retention. Sending out quizzes after training sessions can also help to assess the success of the network security training program. These metrics can help companies to adjust their training plans and detect areas for improvement.
Raising Awareness About Cybersecurity Risks
Having a great network security training program is not enough by itself. Companies should also take steps to raise awareness of cybersecurity and create a culture of understanding cyber risks and taking necessary measures to avoid them within the organization.
To create a culture of cybersecurity, organizations can follow the steps below:
Develop policies and procedures
Policies and procedures are required to address network security risks and to create a guideline for employees to follow. Device usage, acceptable websites, and how to safely search the Internet should be explained in the company policies. These will also let the employees know their boundaries when they are in the company network.
The communication of the company policies should be through employee handbooks, training sessions, and other internal communications. It should be made clear that the policies bind all employees and violating them will have consequences. However, it’s still essential to check the eNPS score from time to time to find out whether employees are satisfied with the process or they have any concerns.
Encourage reporting of security incidents
It is also important to create a culture that knows cyber attacks happen, even if you implement all the measures you can. Employees should be encouraged to report security incidents without any fear so the extent of a breach can be minimized. Companies need to highlight who to contact and what steps to take in case of an incident.
Lead by example
Team leaders and managers should lead by example by following the policies and protocols. Employees are far more likely to understand the importance of network security when their leaders are taking it seriously. All team leads should be equipped with the needed skills to assist their employees with network security.
Tips for Improving Employee Awareness and Network Security
We believe providing important tips for improving employee awareness and network security will help organizations create the kind of culture they want to reinforce their security posture. Here are three effective tips that will boost the network security of an organization while also preparing the employees for cyber risks.
Conducting mock drills and scenarios
Employees will take it more seriously if you can conduct mock drills and scenarios where the company network is compromised. These are also helpful to see how employees react to this kind of attack and if they follow the pre-established procedures.
Enforcing strict password policies
Internal threats and attacks through human errors are common, and stolen credentials are a big part of them. All organizations should enforce strict password policies and use advanced technologies such as Multi-factor Authentication to strengthen their authentication processes. Employees need to know how to protect their credentials effectively.
Using up-to-date security solutions
Regardless of how well you train your employees, or how experienced your IT teams are, you will need high-end and modern security solutions to have a robust security posture. Don’t hesitate to invest in up-to-date security solutions that meet your business needs. Thanks to modern technological advancements, most solutions are now in the cloud and can be acquired through online vendors.