Training & Learning

Why You Need Cyber Security Training for Your Organisation

Organisations across sectors, industries and geographies have every reason to embrace digital transformation. 

But the evolution of innovative new technologies and process automation opens the door to more opportunities for illegal cybercrime. At present, cybercrime is increasingly widespread, with businesses of all sizes regularly succumbing to some form of online threat or illegal activity. According to Astra, 30,000 websites are hacked each day globally, with 43% of these targeting small businesses.

Invariably, an attack could very much disrupt your operations, with the most devastating attacks resulting in huge financial losses and your reputation in tatters.

Over time, cyber attacks have only grown in sophistication and frequency, and to make matters more challenging, threats are becoming harder to detect and contain. IBM statistics show that it takes roughly 7 months for a company to detect a breach, and 75 days to contain it! 

This is why enhanced cyber security measures are now a necessity, and businesses must work diligently and proactively to safeguard their systems and data. As an L&D leader, it’s critical to work alongside your business partners to implement policies and procedures that your teams hold themselves accountable to, and in turn, foster a culture of thorough cyber security awareness. 

6 common types of cybercrime

Cyber attacks can manifest in numerous ways, many of which can inflict severe and sometimes irreparable damage on a business. 

Here are 6 common types of cyber attacks:

  1. Phishing: Fraudulent emails sent to deceive users into downloading dangerous software, clicking malicious links, or providing sensitive information.
  2. Malware: Malicious software that is designed to damage, disable or obtain data from single or multiple systems and devices.
  3. Ransomware: A specific type of malware that locks users out of their systems and files until a ransom is paid.
  4. Data breaches: Hacks on networks or infrastructure that expose sensitive or financial information about a business, its clients, customers, staff, or suppliers.
  5. DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks: Cyber attacks that overload servers, networks and systems that disrupt access and enforce extended downtime.
  6. Brute force attacks: Repeated, fast attempts to access logins with automatically-generated username and password combinations.

It’s important to note that this is merely scratching the surface of understanding the types of hacks and cyber attacks that could be inflicted on a business. No organisation is immune to these types of threats.

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Recent cyber attacks

Many major companies have fallen victim to data breaches and cyber attacks that have resulted in huge financial and reputational damage. Below are just a few examples of notable worldwide businesses and brands that have been impacted by hacks.

  • Hackers were able to seize $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh in a high-profile cyber heist.
  • In 2018, a widespread data breach on Marriott's centralised systems resulted in records of over 500 million guests being exposed, resulting in credit and debit card fraud. A similar attack was launched on MGM Resorts in 2020.
  • In 2021, the Colonial Pipeline was hit by the ransomware group DarkSide in a cyber attack that disrupted fuel supplies and deliveries across the east coast of the U.S. and led to widespread shortages.
  • The world’s largest meat producer, JBS Foods, was hit by a devastating REvil ransomware attack, which spread through their systems and supply chains and affected many of its partners, customers and suppliers.
  • A vulnerability in the messaging app WhatsApp was exploited by the spyware company NSO Group, based in Israel, which sought to target activists, lawyers, journalists and academics, in a politically-motivated attack.

When cyber attacks of this scale occur, they highlight how vulnerable businesses and organizations are and how even robust and stringent security controls can be bypassed. 

So, how can you reduce the risk of your organisation experiencing a cyber attack? Here are five crucial ways to get started with building a culture of security awareness.

5 steps to creating a cyber-aware business culture

From compiling an IT inventory to delivering your cyber security awareness training, here are five steps to creating a cyber-aware business culture.

1. Compile an IT inventory

L&D and IT teams can work together, alongside directors and executives to compile a complete inventory of all systems, assets, and devices that could be of value to a cybercriminal. This includes hardware, software, cloud storage systems, servers, business phones, employees’ devices, and any other technologies that the organisation uses. 

Once this inventory is established, appropriate security controls and protocols can be put in place to safeguard sensitive and critical data.

2. Understand your cyber risk profile

Every business will have a unique cyber risk profile that’s different from the next. This profile will be based on factors like technologies used, incumbent security controls, the industries or sectors the business is in, the type of data it holds, and more. 

Business leaders, IT teams and L&D leaders can work collaboratively to understand what type of cyber risks could potentially affect the company. This involves identifying data and systems that could be prime targets for hackers and any vulnerabilities that could be exploited.

3. Identify any gaps in security controls

The next step is to evaluate your organisation’s existing cyber security procedures and controls. This includes training material, software like antivirus programmes, firewalls and malware protection, cyber policies, and incident response management plans.

Any gaps or holes in existing controls present an opportunity for criminals to strike, so you will need to identify and address these gaps in order to strengthen your organisation’s cyber defences.

4. Monitor, detect, and respond to threats

To detect potential threats in real-time, you need to continuously monitor your network and systems.

Once controls have been established, you must implement a managed detection and response strategy, which can be brought in-house or outsourced, where round-the-clock monitoring tools can be implemented. 

These tools will be able to detect signs of unauthorised access or activity, and if an attack occurs, the already-established incident response plan will allow you to take immediate action to contain the threat(s) and minimise damage.

5. Deliver cyber security awareness training

Once multiple layers of security and threat detection have been established, the next step is to provide comprehensive cyber security awareness training for all your employees. 

Be sure that cyber training is interactive, engaging and relevant for employees to learn about important topics, ranging from the broad range of cyber attacks to important data protection measures. For maximum impact, your training programmes should be ongoing and continually updated to account for evolving cyber threats.

Cyber security training is vital to improve your cyber posture

For organisations, cyber security awareness training is a crucial first step in strengthening the proverbial ‘weakest link’ - individuals. In fact, Stanford University’s research showed that roughly 88% of all data breaches are the result of human error. 

As humans, we often experience lapses in concentration and awareness, resulting in sensitive information being mistakenly provided to somebody cleverly disguising themselves as a legitimate contact. 

Phishing emails are prolific examples of how perceptions of genuine human interaction can be used deceivingly. But comprehensive, structured, and engaging training about phishing detection can teach employees to spot these malicious threats more easily, so they can avoid becoming easy targets. 

Be sure to invest in dedicated cybersecurity staff or explore staff augmentation options to optimise cyber security awareness training and internal knowledge. Indeed, everybody within an organisation—from the top to the bottom—should work to foster a culture that embraces, understands, and prioritises cyber security. 

In this day and age, establishing a multi-layered cyber defence strategy is crucial for preserving your data integrity and protecting your systems. L&D leaders and IT teams play an integral role in helping organisations establish effective awareness and education programmes, ensuring that they are well-prepared to respond in the event of a breach or attack.