If anyone remains unconvinced that corporate training needs to be a priority, then it isn’t for a lack of warning. But knowing that you need to invest in training doesn’t position you at the first step of an obvious path. That part is easy. It’s what follows that can really test a business: namely, deciding how to handle employee training, figuring out everything from how much money to put towards the matter, to how to choose the topics that will prove the most impactful.
The COVID-19 pandemic upended daily business operations everywhere, forcing companies to rely even more heavily on technology to keep the wheels turning. And most companies did just that, sending their employees home and tasking them with working remotely. While many people now embrace remote work with open arms, this shift also increased the urgency around cybersecurity, considering that even more of the average business’s operations have gone online.
Knowing that they have good reasons to worry about online operations, smart companies have made substantial commitments to cybersecurity training, with the goal of protecting their interests through making their employees, partners, and clients safer. Cybersecurity training for employees should be very broad, though: scattered training won’t have the desired impact.
In this post, we’re going to cover in more detail why cybersecurity is something your entire company needs to be aware of, and why you should get everyone involved with the training. Let’s delve deeper into the topic of cybersecurity training for employees, ultimately getting into why you should task them with creating materials (and give them the system to do so):
It would be hugely convenient if employee risk scaled with position, such that the members of the C-suite presented massive vulnerabilities, but low-level hires were fundamentally unable to do anything to undermine the company’s security. Sadly, this isn’t how it works. These days, everyone will need access to the company systems, and that could lead to vulnerability.
The tried-and-tested chain analogy holds sway here. Every route in and out of any part of your online operation (every user, in fact) constitutes a link in the overall chain, and one link being compromised can plausibly lead to the entire chain falling apart. Compounding this issue is the evident truth that the average person doesn’t know all that much about cybersecurity problems.
Ask people if they worry about their online security, they’ll probably say yes—but this doesn’t tell you much. We all know that the ocean holds an astonishing range of threats, yet we mostly don’t fear it all that much because we assume they’ll never get us—and because we don’t know exactly what the threats are.
If you aren’t aware of what makes something threatening, you can’t act appropriately, and so it is with the internet. You need people throughout your business to act appropriately at all times. Training them will increase awareness and knowledge in your workforce around these important issues.
We just touched upon how much general confusion there is concerning cybersecurity, and this isn’t just a problem within the confines of your company. It’s also an issue outside your company—and since issues that your employees have outside of work can bleed over into their working lives (draining their morale and sapping their concentration), you need to care.
What issues are we talking about? Well, anyone who uses the internet faces a wide range of risks on a daily basis. Social engineering seeks to draw upon someone’s public data to figure out how to access their personal or professional systems. Phishing attacks spoof trusted email addresses to trick the unsuspecting recipients into providing their login details.
Suppose that one of your employees is taken in by such a phishing attack and ends up losing some money to scammers. How do you think that will impact their work? They’ll likely end up dwelling on the situation while they’re supposed to be getting things done. This also goes for issues that your employees’ friends and family members might face. Parents in particular are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
You can’t take responsibility for what happens outside of work, of course, but you can make a concerted effort to train your employees in a way that helps them prevent such issues from occurring. They can pass tips to their friends and family members, for instance, making it less likely that problems will come up.
Even when internet users do know what issues to look out for, there’s a lot of confusion about how to address them (and why it’s worth it). This is important since they can’t rely on corporate protection outside of work hours. Many of them would benefit from taking advantage of security software, yet they have good reasons for refraining, often involving pricing and no clear impetus. All those tips you provide can go to waste if your employees don’t actually act upon them.
What’s more, even if you feel confident that you can initially strong-arm your employees into doing the right things at work, their overall attitudes will inevitably come to the fore in due course. In other words, if they don’t care about cybersecurity in general, they’ll eventually stop following your best practices (viewing them as alarmist inconveniences).
Due to this, you need to ensure that your training is broad enough to help people understand why cybersecurity is important in all reaches of life. It can’t stop at basic comments concerning what can go wrong and tips about changing passwords. It needs to encompass everything from the costs of safeguards (time, effort, and money) to the potential consequences of failing to implement them: yes, this is where horror stories about identity theft are worth dredging up.
Productivity will always be a top priority: no company is so flush that it can justifiably waste resources and proceed at a glacial pace. And while the transition to remote working has been surprisingly smooth overall, it’s hard to make the case that most companies are making the most of the new standard model.
There are many reasons for this (including communication problems, weak motivation, and reduced creativity), but the most significant here is the administrative drain caused by workers not knowing how to get things done securely. If it takes someone thirty minutes to resolve a basic issue with their VPN software that should have taken them a few minutes at most, for instance, that’s a glaring weakness from an HR perspective.
So you need to train everyone in capably handling their cybersecurity tasks—and just as everyone matters for productivity in regular workdays, full participation in the training effort can speed things along immensely. After one employee has been comprehensively trained in a given area, they can embrace a Collaborative Learning approach to provide reliable support to their colleagues, saving you time, money, and effort. If everyone does this, it can make a huge difference.