How long would it take your organization to identify a cyber attack? How quickly could you contain it once discovered? You might be surprised to learn that these two critical acts take the average company roughly 280 days.

Just think of the damage that could be done if you had an undetected hacker in the midst for more than nine months! The reputation loss and legal ramifications alone could cause even the most solid institutions to crumble.

No matter where you are on your cybersecurity journey, it’s essential to include your employees. (Or as cybercriminals like to call them: the easy targets.)

Why Internal Cybersecurity Training is a Must

Companies who spend all their resources planning for an external attack are overlooking a massive vulnerability. Not only is cybercrime up 600% since the start of the pandemic, 64% of those breaches can be linked to an internal source.

Be it an employee who gets duped by a crafty phishing scheme or use of unapproved devices and apps during remote work, the costs can be astronomical.

The solution? Creating a company culture that values cybersecurity – and that starts with continuous training.

Key Areas for Strengthening Employee Awareness

It only takes one unknowing employee or careless error to land you in the center of a damaging security event.

These cyber-training techniques help make prevention an ongoing priority.

1) Make it mandatory for everyone.

It doesn’t matter how senior they are, staff should all receive basic security information, no exceptions. Treat it like you would any other disaster preparedness training. Since you can never fully predict when or where an attack will happen, everyone needs a strong knowledge base. That includes how to spot suspicious activity, how to respond, and who to contact to address the threat. You may also want to create customized trainings for different departments or your executive team.

2) Incorporate it into your onboarding process.

When you’re still learning the ropes, it’s more difficult to spot something outside the norm. Though you’re expected to make a few mistakes while you’re new, even a slight distraction can come at a price. Making cybersecurity a priority right from the onboarding phase provides valuable information about their role in keeping the entire company safe – and how to do it.

3) Test their response to simulated attacks.

It’s one thing to take a quiz when you’re fresh off a cyber safety presentation. It’s quite another to get a convincing phishing email from the “CEO” asking you to send personal info needed for an unexpected bonus. Hackers are trained to play to our strongest emotions. By going toe-toe with high-pressure or emotionally intense situations orchestrated internally, employees can better prepare for the real thing.

4) Use assessments to focus training materials.

Pull stats from past breaches, simulations, and security assessments. Notice any patterns? That probably means it’s time for a more concentrated security session around those topics. You may even choose to consult with outside security experts to help you identify your collective weak points.

5) Vary your training materials.

Everyone has a different learning style. By sharing information with a mix of different content types, you’re more likely to engage more people. For instance, you may want to hire speakers to share real-life consequences of cyber attacks instead of just flashing statistics. You can also put together videos for your remote teams or supply staff with quick reference guides they can keep at their desks.

7) Create a cyber-specific email account.

Establishing a central hub for security-related questions and queries is a great internal resource. Staff can ask things they might not be comfortable sharing during a larger training or simply get a second set of eyes on something that strikes them as suspicious. Just make sure the account is closely monitored by someone well-versed in all things cybersecurity.

6) Never. Stop. Training.

As technology continues to evolve, so too will cyberthreats. The learning is never-ending.

When it comes to data protection, the human factor can be the most difficult to control. Encouraging your employees to stay vigilant is one thing, but if you want them to actually stop an attempt in its tracks, that takes training, plain and simple.