When it comes to cybersecurity, humans are often the weakest link. According to one study, approximately 90 percent or more of all cyber incidents can be attributed to human error or behavior.

These errors can take many forms, including accidentally clicking on a phishing link, leaving a laptop unattended in a public place, or using weak passwords to protect critical accounts. In some rarer cases, it could also involve an act of malicious intent, perhaps by a disgruntled employee.

The effects of these mistakes can be catastrophic. The average cost of a data breach in 2019 was $8.19 million, a sum that could be devastating to many businesses. In fact, 60 percent of small businesses will go out of business within six months following a cyberattack.

One way to effectively counteract these types of incidents is to provide in-depth security awareness training and educate employees on security best practices and how to spot indicators of attack. These efforts are significant in today’s remote workforce. Employees may be faced with phishing attacks or other threats as they work outside of the corporate office.

Implementing an effective security awareness strategy

Implementing an effective security awareness training program starts with having clear corporate policies on how employees should behave. This may include frameworks for how employees should use devices, leverage password strong password security, surf the Internet, or download files, among other things. From there, employers can create training to help employees adhere to these policies or guidelines.

Training can take many different forms. A formal presentation can be undertaken with your team, perhaps engaging with a third-party consultant. There are also many security awareness training platforms available, which gamify the content and even send simulated phishing attacks to ensure employees remain alert for an attack.

It’s vital that training is extended to every person inside the organization, from the CEO down to the most junior employee. An organization is only as strong as its weakest link, which means every employee needs to be educated to ensure a strong defense against attack.

Enhancing employee education isn’t something that will happen overnight, nor will it happen in one hour or even a day of training. It needs to be an on-going and ever-evolving effort across the entire organization to ensure risk prevention remains top-of-mind for employees and that they are educated on the latest threats and attack methods.

Proven long-term results

The results of security awareness training are clear: Studies have shown even a modest investment in educating employees has a 72 percent chance of significantly reducing cybersecurity risk. According to research by Ponemon, this means at least a 7-times return on investment in programs.

For a small or medium business where every dollar counts, such a clear correlation between reducing training and reducing cybersecurity risk makes it a no-brainer.

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