Ten security awareness topics for your employees

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In the Newsweek Vantage Cybersecurity Report 2020, 52% of surveyed executives worldwide said that employees are the primary threat to their organization's security. Human error is considered the most common cause of security breaches.

While many employees breach cybersecurity policies out of stress, others are unaware of this concept. Of course, employees are an organization's assets, but they can expose its crucial data to hackers intentionally or unintentionally.

Employers must organize proper security awareness lessons to enlighten their employees about various cyberattacks. When employees have adequate knowledge to identify these threats, they can easily guard their organization's security. Thus, to plan a comprehensive training program, you must include these 10 must-included lessons for your employees.

1. Phishing

Sending phishing emails is the most common way to get insights into an organization's operations and extract sensitive information. Cybercriminals often send these emails through by using identities that look credible but may have suspicious domains. For instance, it could be from "qoogle.us" instead of "google.com." 

It's natural for employees to fall for incentives. Attackers take advantage of this by including offers in these emails or posing an emergency. Unfortunately, many employees don't inquire about the sender and send the requested information out of urgency.

In addition, phishing emails often ask the recipient to click on a link or attachments. Such links direct them to a website owned by the hacker, enabling these criminals to access information. Therefore, creating awareness about these email scams is quite essential. Your training lesson must cover the following aspects:

· Educating employees with real phishing examples so they understand what kinds of social engineering tricks attackers use

· Being extra careful with every email that asks for sensitive information

· Ignoring emails that ask about transactions without confirming it from the upper management

· Techniques to identify suspicious links in emails

· Recognition of suspicious and malicious domains, such as faceboook.com instead of facebook.com

· Being extra suspicious of any email attachments

2. Malware

Malware is used by cybercriminals use to extract sensitive information from employees. This may include user credentials, passwords, and financial information. Such software is also intended to damage the organization's systems, including ransomware.

Attackers send malware to the employees in various ways like phishing emails, suspicious removable media, or download links. The security awareness training program must also focus on malware and cover their most common delivery techniques and risks for the organization. The malware lesson should revolve around:

·  Assessing files attached in emails, websites, and other media

·  The importance of not installing unauthorized software

·  Directing IT/security team as soon as you detect something suspicious

3. Security of Credentials

For years, passwords have been used as an authentication system to access sensitive data. Even today, it is one of the most common identification techniques in many organizations.

Many employees have multiple online accounts secured by passwords and usernames. However, in case of weak credentials security, cybercriminals can reach sensitive data easily, without anyone even knowing. Some important credentials security tips to include are:

·  Using a unique password for every account

·  Using strong passwords that include multiple characters (letters, symbols, and numbers)

·  The importance of enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA)

4. Removable Media

As discussed above, removable media like CDs and USBs can deliver malware to an organization's network. When this software installs on the media, it can start damaging the system automatically. Malware can also have an attractive filename that encourages employees to click or open it. 

Fraudulent removable media allows cybercriminals to reach data or deploy ransomware. Hackers deliver these media in business meetings, common areas, restrooms, parking lots, or other public dealings. Therefore, your security awareness training lesson must create awareness about:

·  Refusing to accept any removable media from anyone without checking up on the senior management

·  Avoiding inserting any USB or CD into their systems

·  Reporting to the IT or security team about suspicious removable disks

5. Safe Internet Usage

A majority of businesses now operate on the internet and require their employee to use it. However, since every employee has a different level of understanding, this poses a greater risk to the organization's security. Thus, training their staff about safe internet usage is essential.

The training programs should enlighten the employees about "do's and don'ts" when using the internet. This will prevent them from exposing sensitive information to cybercriminals unintentionally. So, your training must include:

·  Identification of an unsafe internet connection and how HTTP and HTTPS are different

·  The impact of downloading files from untrusted websites

·  The dangers of providing credentials information to suspicious websites

·  Assessment of different browsing threats, such as watering hole attacks and drive-by downloads.

6. Social Media Cyberattacks

Social media networking is a popular way to create awareness about your brand and attract more customers to your offerings. While many businesses are using it now, cybercriminals are also targeting their attacks via different social media platforms. 

The attackers steal critical data of an organization's customer base and then use it for malicious activities. After extracting information, they can send fraudulent emails or messages to their customers on behalf of that firm. 

This puts the business's overall integrity at stake. Thus, your security awareness training program must also inform your employees about the threats of using social media. This lesson should cover:

·  Phishing attacks via social media 

·  Impersonation of trusted brands to steal data 

·  Creating fraudulent emails from the information that people provide on social media

7. Environmental Security Measures

Cybersecurity concerns aren't just restricted to your computers. Instead, these threats can be physically present in your workplace environment. So, your security awareness training must also cover the following aspects:

·  Forgetting to lock their devices after leaving the workplace

·  Putting or misplacing an office-issued phone in a public place

·  Malfunctioning physical security controls

·  Shoulder surfing or situations where outsiders can see your screen

·  Impersonation: visitors disguising themselves as auditors or inspectors asking to look into the organization's system.

·  Tailgating: unauthorized persons following you into a restricted area.

8. Nothing on the Desk

Many employees tend to leave important information on the desk before leaving the workplace. This may include passwords written on sticky notes or printouts with financial information. If these things get into the hands of a cybercriminal, they can easily get access to the organization's sensitive data. 

Thus, the security awareness training must emphasize a "clean desk policy" that obliges every employee to clear their desks before leaving. Moreover, they should also ensure that they have locked drawers with important documents.

9. Safe Data Management

If an organization leaks or exposes critical data about their customers, they can get into serious legal issues and heavy fines. This will put a huge dent in their reputation in the market and damage consumer relationships. So, employees must learn to manage their data safely. The training content should focus on:

·  Formulating effective data classification strategy to protect data at every stage

·  Legal requirements that come with data security

·  Importance of a strong password and MFA for accounts

10. Device Security

Many organizations allow employees to bring and work on their devices in the workplace. While this enhances the efficiency of employees, it also poses some serious security risks. That's because these devices are not secured enough to hold sensitive information about the organization. The security awareness training lesson should work on teaching employees about:

·  Securing all devices used in the workplace with strong passwords

·  Enabling full-disk encryption for personal devices

·  Using a VPN when working through a Wi-Fi network

·  The importance of using a company-approved antivirus

·  Downloading authorized applications only from trusted stores or websites

Training Employees About Cyber Attacks

Lack of training sessions leads to a negligent workforce. Organizations must educate their employees about security threats instead of forcing them to follow the policies. Adopting a comprehensive security awareness training program can significantly help organizations overcome such threats.

Employers should also set new policies, set frequent reminders, provide training material, and offer incentives to encourage employees to stay compliant. Organizations can also consult a trusted automated cybersecurity training platform like Hoxhunt that protects employers and employees from potential cyber-attacks by continuously educating employees about different forms of cyber threats and how to respond to them.

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