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Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training: Are Employees Your Biggest Threat?

What is Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

Cybersecurity awareness training for employees is an organized training program designed to teach your employees how to keep data safe from hackers. Do you have a Cybersecurity Awareness Training plan?

Typical topics will cover:

Email Safety: Employees learn how to spot spoofing, social engineering, malware, and phishing attempts. They will be given simulations to see if they can properly identify and respond to email scams and hacking attempts. Your team will learn:

  • How to identify confidential and proprietary business information
  • How to identify suspicious URLs, email addresses, and attachments
  • How to properly use spam filters and the dangers of working around them
  • How to verify a sender’s address and identity
  • Compliance and regulations

Safe Behaviors: From securing devices to the risks of installing unapproved software, your cybersecurity awareness training will cover unintentionally risky behaviors your employees do that could lead to a breach.

Social Media and Internet Usage: Social media and the internet pose a significant risk of hacking to users. Training modules for proper online protection will include:

  • Company policies regarding the sharing of confidential information
  • Policies outlining the usage of social media or non-work-related internet use
  • Identifying social media related malware and spoofed websites
  • Source verification
  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) awareness and compliance
  • Proper use of company-issued devices

Password Security: It’s estimated that a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds. Weak and reused passwords contribute to the success of many of these breaches. Employees need to understand that habits such as using passwords across all platforms are risky, as is using simplistic passwords like “123456” and “password.” Password security training covers:

  • Using an approved password management tool
  • Risky behavior like password sharing, weak password changes, and reusing passwords for multiple applications
  • MFA (multi-factor authentication)
  • Creating stronger, policy-compliant PINS and passwords
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Password sharing

Cyber Threat Trends: Your entire team needs to understand just how sophisticated cyberattacks have become so they can learn to avoid them. Cybersecurity awareness training will cover threats, both new and existing, as well as the tools and best practices to identify and prevent potential breaches.

Cybersecurity expert Matt Lee takes on a hacker in “real time” below, showing how sneaky and advanced cyber criminals have become. Watch Matt match wits with Annie Ballew from Huntress Labs. 

How to React to Threats: It’s not enough for your employees to ignore potential threats. They should learn how to respond, including who, what, when and where to report the incident. The entire team needs to learn how to isolate affected hardware to prevent malware from spreading throughout the network. These modules will teach your team hardware and software management as well as policies and procedures for reporting threats.

The Importance of Cybersecurity Compliance: Many employees fail to understand their importance in a company’s cybersecurity strategy. Cybersecurity awareness training teaches your team their role in protecting your business’ data, including:

  • Data lifecycles from creation through removal from the network
  • Data privacy
  • Encryption
  • Data breach response
  • Screen locks and other hardware protections
  • Data backup and retention
  • Physical security
  • Personally identifiable information (PII) vs. sensitive data

Zero-Trust Cybersecurity Awareness Training

The best way to approach cybersecurity awareness training is through a “zero-trust” approach.

A zero-trust network assumes that every device and user is a potential threat to the network. The mindset of zero-trust is “never trust, always verify.”

Several layers of cybersecurity are used to deploy a zero-trust environment.


If you don’t routinely monitor your event logs and activity, you won’t be aware of a breach until it is too late. Monitoring for suspicious activity is one part of a zero-trust network.

Verify User Identity

How can you trust that the person logging into the network is who they say there are? Zero-trust networks use multi-factor authentication to verify identities, and then manage access to data based on the user’s “need to use.”

Safe Access

Starting at the bottom is a good approach to a zero-trust environment. When your users log in, they need a secure process to do so. This is where complex password creation and single sign-on policies come into play.

Zero-Trust Networks Are an Extension of Your Existing Cybersecurity Policies

Chances are, you will find that the zero-trust mindset is already in your cybersecurity policies. It’s a most effective approach, and even more powerful when you combine it with cloud computing solutions. Zero-trust means never accepting things as they seem, never allowing unverified users to access data, and never allowing unvalidated devices to connect to your network.

In addition to an ongoing cybersecurity awareness training strategy for your employees, your new employees should learn security measures as part of the onboarding process. Between current employees who seldom think about your company’s security and new employees who are completely unaware of your policies, it’s apparent that a targeted cybersecurity awareness training program shouldn’t just be an afterthought for your employees; it’s necessary to protect your network.

How Will Cybersecurity Awareness Training Affect Productivity?

All employees need to take cybersecurity awareness training classes so they are on alert for potential threats and can learn to protect themselves, and your company, accordingly. You may wonder how the training process will affect your employees, workflow, and productivity.  How much time will your team need to spend in cybersecurity awareness training?

The length of these training classes will depend on the employee, their job description and permissions, and the topics most pertinent to your industry and threat levels. In-class trainings can take anywhere from a few days to seven weeks, while a basic online course may only take an hour or two. Basic classes will generally cover the bare bones of cybersecurity, such as best practices and cyber incident response.

MSPs such as Iconic IT offer convenient on-site cybersecurity awareness training classes taught by professionals, no travel needed. These programs generally last about a half-day or more, depending on your training needs. There is no hard and fast rule involving the length of time an employee will need to spend in cybersecurity awareness training. Some employees may require additional support if they seem to be struggling with the material, while others are more tech savvy and need less training.

Cybersecurity awareness classes can be tailored to specific roles and departments to make sure employees get the most appropriate materials for their position. Some departments, such as sales, use email as their primary form of communication. Their training should focus more on malware, online scams, phishing, and other email topics.  Meanwhile, members of your team who work primarily in accounting or finance deal with product and service specs, product and financial details, and other highly sensitive information. Their training would focus more on file security, hardware and software security updates, securing work-related devices, physical file protections, and password security.

Encourage your team to ask questions during training if something is unclear to them. Their increased understanding of threats will help shape their security behaviors.  

It’s helpful to have your employees “buy in” to the training by reminding them that they are the gatekeepers of your cybersecurity strategy.

Iconic IT and You: Better Together

Iconic IT doesn’t believe in skimping on coverage for our clients. Unlike most MSPs that offer bare-bones services, we have plans as vast as the national parks they are named after. To us, anything else is underserving. We give you have the guidance and supplies you need, like a park ranger helping you through the forests and mountains of your IT issues and needs.

Iconic It is your preferred managed services provider, offering a wide variety of services and packages designed to fit any need or budget. Let us provide cybersecurity awareness training for your team as part of your total security strategy.

In addition to cybersecurity awareness training, Iconic IT offers:

  • Firewall
  • Next Generation Endpoint protection
  • Business Continuity Solutions (Backup/Disaster Recovery)
  • SPAM Filtering
  • 24/7 Network/ Server/ Workstation Monitoring
  • Patch Management
  • Network Documentation
  • Dark Web Monitoring
  • Phishing Simulations

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation and see how Iconic IT can help your business stay protected in a world of ever-evolving cybercrime.

You and Iconic IT: better together.

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