Before the massive rise in digital transformation across businesses worldwide, corporate cybersecurity awareness training took an informal yet straightforward approach. Employees typically learned only about the importance of complex passwords for company accounts, and the consequences of storing those passwords on sticky notes around their workstation.

Since then, the threat landscape has changed dramatically as technology advanced. Digital infrastructure has become critical to business activity with virtually every aspect of a business now connected to the internet. Although this connectivity brings countless advantages to the business world, it also increases risk probability. Phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, viruses and software exploits can devastate organizations, and untrained employees are often responsible for allowing these threats to break through.

In simpler terms, the momentous rise of cyber threats in recent years means that businesses can no longer regard security training as a minor corporate initiative or a checkbox activity. The current high level of risk in the digitally enabled business world requires businesses to provide thorough, comprehensive and consistent cybersecurity awareness training. This training should emphasize the role of employees as the first line of defense against cyberattacks.

Below are a few of the most significant benefits of implementing security awareness training that business leaders should know.

Key Benefits of Cybersecurity Awareness Training

  • Protects sensitive data: Data is often described as the new oil, being one of the primary reasons cyber criminals increase their activities to exploit those who are lax in their security measures. Security awareness training helps employees understand the importance of protecting sensitive information, such as confidential business records and customer information. This training safeguards organizations from financial, legal and reputational harm by ensuring all forms of data are treated with the utmost care.
  • Fosters a sustainable security culture: A corporate culture of security within an organization is essential for staying protected from threats. Ongoing training helps embed security as a central company focus and promotes a proactive stance that halts threats before they can become greater problems. Establishing such a culture can empower employees to identify and report security concerns immediately — from phishing scams to unauthorized physical access — thereby strengthening organizational security.
  • Detects and prevents insider threats: Security training aids in identifying and mitigating threats from within the organization, which includes not only employees but also vendors or contractors with access to systems and data. Insider threats can cause significant financial and reputational damage, and helping employees recognize these threats can prevent major complications.
  • Increases employee engagement: Regularly educating employees about security threats is an excellent way to increase engagement and make them feel directly involved in their organization’s security initiatives. Engaged employees are more likely to adhere to established security policies and procedures, thereby enhancing the company’s overall security posture and reducing the probability of risk.
  • Allows employees to personally manage threats: A key aspect of security awareness training is educating employees on the various threats their organization faces and how to personally identify them. Security tools do the heavy lifting and block out most attacks, but for the ones that do enter the system, information technology (IT) professionals may not notice every suspicious action or act fast enough to resolve threats themselves. Therefore, educating non-security personnel enables them to act swiftly and effectively in identifying potential threats and, in some cases, resolving issues themselves.
  • Reduces human error: Human error is a leading cause of security incidents, primarily due to a lack of training. Educating employees on recognizing and responding to various types of security threats can significantly reduce the likelihood of an incident and can drastically improve an organization’s security posture without relying solely on digital infrastructure.
  • Supports incident response: Training also prepares employees to respond effectively to security incidents, minimizing the impact and aiding in quicker recovery. Understanding their roles in the organization’s incident response plan ensures a coordinated and efficient response to security incidents.

Business leaders can also implement these best practices to further enhance the security posture of their entire organization:

  • Deploy a company cybersecurity policy: Produce a comprehensive guide for employees to understand the exact procedures for working safely and securely, both at the office and remotely.
  • Regularly train employees on cyberthreats: Threats are constantly evolving, so training must be ongoing too. Employees need to stay updated on the most important types of attacks so they can keep themselves, and the company, shielded from new threats.
  • Encourage communication: Make sure employees feel comfortable speaking up if they notice any suspicious activity and provide easy reporting mechanisms. This can prevent attacks from manifesting into greater problems, and help others avoid falling into a trap.
  • Create a response strategy: Even with robust security training and awareness, hacks can still happen. Make sure employees understand what they need to do if they believe systems have been compromised, so the problem can be quickly addressed.

With security risks continuing to rise, the value of cybersecurity awareness training cannot be overstated. Regular, comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training should be a fundamental aspect of every organization’s cybersecurity strategy. This should include a multifaceted approach to protecting sensitive data, fostering a security-conscious culture, and enhancing the overall security posture. As the digital landscape evolves, so too must our approaches to security awareness with innovative and accessible training options being key to this evolution.