It is difficult to overstate the extent of the challenge that small and medium enterprises face in maintaining cyber security. For a start, according to data compiled by CSO, a small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds. Approximately 65,000 attempts to hack SMEs are made every single day, of which more than 4,000 are successful. In total, it is estimated that 88 percent of UK businesses have suffered a security breach in the past year.To make matters worse, cyber-attacks only make up some of the security threats companies face. A significant number of cyber security breaches occur because of bad habits or mistakes from employees. Regardless of the cause, however, the consequences of a cyber breach can be severe, from company down time, to damage to reputation, to loss of customers. This is why it is so important to invest sufficiently in training for staff members.In this post, we take a much closer look at the issue of cyber security and the benefits of cyber security training.
The first and perhaps most important benefit of cyber security awareness training is its capacity to help prevent cyber-attacks from being successful. Although some cyber criminals do adopt sophisticated techniques, the majority of attacks are actually fairly unsophisticated in nature. With this in mind, taking the time to teach your employees how to spot the signs and what to do in the event of a suspected attack can make all the difference.A recent study from PwC indicated that more than half of cyber-attacks in the United Kingdom involve phishing. The same report also states that the prevalence of phishing in the UK is 20 percent higher than the global average. Training is the only reliable way to protect against phishing, because it is a technique that relies upon naïveté, or a lack of experience. Therefore, the simple act of teaching staff how to recognise phishing can go a long way.The same principle also applies to things like social engineering attacks and hacking attempts. Cyber security training can help you to establish clear company policies, mitigating risk. For example, you can teach your employees not to click on suspicious links, and to copy and paste link URLs into the address bar to check validity. You can also teach about best practices, such as using two-factor authentication to protect accounts and using virus software effectively.
As stated earlier, many cyber security issues do not actually occur as a result of direct attacks on a business, but instead as a result of human error and there are a huge number of possibilities here. For example, think about what happens if one of your employees leaves a device with sensitive files on a train, or accidentally deletes a crucial document. Alternatively, consider a situation where a team member emails personal details to the wrong customer.In fact, this issue of sending things to the wrong recipient - mis delivery - was highlighted as the fifth most common action leading to data breaches in a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report in 2018. This makes it a bigger cause of data breaches than theft, spyware and brute force hacking. Of course, through cyber security awareness training, many of these issues can be avoided, because the consequences can be highlighted to staff.It is also worth noting that human error can aid cyber-attacks when they do occur. As an example, weak passwords, duplicate passwords and failure to patch software can all help to make hacking much easier to accomplish. Again, these are issues that can be reduced when their significance is explained to employees and when best practices are taught.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge that cyber security breaches do not only affect businesses, they also impact upon customers too. For this reason, there are regulations in place, which are designed to ensure businesses handle customer data responsibly and avoid putting individuals at risk. Compliance with these regulations is absolutely critical and high-quality training activities can help to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities.Examples of some of the regulations your employees may need to be aware of include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018. If your business has overseas customers, you may also need to be aware of some international regulations too and training can be important for ensuring that you have enough workers in your organisation who have the required knowledge to protect your business from any breaches."Cyber security laws and regulations inevitably contain complex requirements," says Luke Irwin, in an article written for IT Governance. "Organisations need employees with specialist knowledge to achieve compliance."
Cyber security issues can have a devastating impact on your business, so you need to take proactive steps to prevent these problems from occurring. One of the best ways to achieve this is to provide employees with cyber security awareness training, which teaches best practices and highlights the serious consequences that can arise from mistakes.
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