Lesson Learned: Security Awareness Training

Think back for a second on all the safety lessons we learned as kids; for example, when you cross a street, you look both ways. But some safety lessons had to evolve over time.

For example, no one wore seat belts. We would bounce around the back of the station wagon and think it was fun. As adults, we learned the important of seat belts, the safety they provide and wear them every time. We now make it mandatory for all drivers and teach it as a fundamental step for all new drivers despite some still ignoring the benefit.

Cyber security awareness training is no different than the two analogies above. There are no seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, etc. (security solutions) that can stop every threat, and stepping off the curb without looking (i.e. clicking on a link, opening a file, inserting a foreign USB key, etc.) can cause a world of grief and pain.

When the Internet first started in the 1990’s, the threats were basic computer viruses – bowling for elves for example. AV solutions managed them. Today, the threats have evolved and many people that use technology have not been taught to look both ways. Like with seatbelts, we need to educate people on the dangers and raise awareness so their careless actions do not cause damage.

Cyber Security Awareness Training is Fundamental

Since the Internet is constantly evolving, and new risks appear every day, cyber security awareness training is fundamental to keep people up to date on what the threats are, how to spot them, and most importantly how to avoid them. Safe computing is important to every business because once a beach head (an attack is inside the company’s systems) is established, data, the business, and even personal safety are at risk. Cyber security training is not something you see on Saturday morning cartoons like how a bill becomes a law. It is not something a parent can teach you like crossing a street. It is something that needs to be taught based on the threat landscape and what it means to your business.

Critical Elements of Cyber Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training is essential for every business. It:

  1. Outlines what can happen if you do not pay attention and what can happen to you and the company.
  2. Identifies the threats the business can experience from phishing and ransomware, to social engineering.
  3. Explains the sensitivity of the data the company maintains and what could happen if it was leaked.

Once the risk is defined (like getting hit by a car), then education can be conducted on how to avoid the threat. Do not open attachments from people you do not know, do not click on links to unknown websites, do not pick up a random USB keys and put it into your computer, do not share files, do not copy data… and so on.

Think of Cyber Security Awareness Training Like Insurance

The investment a company makes to teach these fundamentals is analogous to insurance. You pay up front to teach the basics so you do not have to pay after a problem occurs. Then, you provide continuous cyber security awareness training (like paying a premium) to ensure that your weakest link in cyber security, your employees, actually becomes your strongest asset in prevention of a breach. If you see something, say something. Without that basic lesson, employees will do whatever they want with technology and the company will have to clean up and pay for the mess. And maybe, pay a fine or even be out of business.

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This blog post was written by Morey Haber of BeyondTrust.

mhaber-5Morey Haber, Vice President of Technology, Office of the CTO

With more than 20 years of IT industry experience, Mr. Haber joined BeyondTrust in 2012 as a part of the eEye Digital Security acquisition and currently oversees strategy for both vulnerability and privileged identity management. In 2004, Mr. Haber joined eEye as the Director of Security Engineering and was responsible for strategic business discussions and vulnerability management architectures in Fortune 500 clients. Prior to eEye, he was a Development Manager for Computer Associates, Inc. (CA), responsible for new product beta cycles and key customer accounts. Mr. Haber began his career as a Reliability and Maintainability Engineer for a government contractor building flight and training simulators. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.