Every year, billions of pounds are lost to cybercrime. Cyber criminals are developing more diverse and more sophisticated methods of gaining access to and manipulating sensitive data. A number of high-profile data breaches in recent years have highlighted the value that cyber criminals place on personal data.
Businesses of all sizes and in all industries are becoming victims of cybercrime. In some cases, cyber criminals are simply looking to harvest personal data, which they can then sell on the online black market – the dark web. However, increasingly these cyber criminals are using harvested data in order to perpetrate scams that end with people handing their money over to scammers. Even seemingly harmless data breaches can cause serious real-world harm.
It is therefore essential that businesses are willing to engage with their cyber security. Ideally, this should mean more than simply hiring outside help and should involve managers having discussions with the IT team so that both sides have a firm understanding of the business’s needs and how these can best be met.
Encouraging good cyber security habits throughout all levels of your business will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your existing cyber security procedures while also enabling you to direct your cyber security efforts in a more focused manner.
In fact, there are a number of excellent reasons to make cyber security training a priority for your business.
Hackers Exploit People
Many computer security systems are about as close to perfect as can be. For example, if you encrypt a file on your computer using modern encryption methods, it is virtually impossible for an attacker to break through the decryption.
The weak point in most cyber security systems is people, not computers. Hackers know this and will therefore try to use social engineering and other techniques in order to use your own staff to undermine your security. The best defence against these attacks is education.
These attacks succeed because attackers deliberately target staff members who are less likely to be familiar with security protocols. You should make everyone on your staff aware of the ways in which attackers are likely to use social engineering techniques to manipulate them into bypassing security on behalf of hackers. The best way of achieving this is with security awareness training. This will equip your workers with the knowledge they need to keep your business safe.Coders Make Mistakes
One of the most common mistakes made by businesses when it comes to their cyber security is that they install software on their network to keep out hackers and assume that this will serve as a perfect barrier. This is a huge mistake that lulls businesses into a false sense of security and leads to sloppy behaviour.
We mentioned earlier that modern encryption is more or less perfect in its ability to keep out an attacker. Using a randomly generated 128-character password to encrypt a file using freely available encryption tools will keep that file secure from even the most determined attacker.
But your network security is much more complex than encrypting a file. Furthermore, you can’t keep a network secure by hiding it or locking it in a safe, as you can with physical storage devices. As a result, the relatively complex software that monitors your network and keeps you safe from cyber security threats will not be perfect.
Even the most talented coders make mistakes. And even when they don’t, perfectly written code might utilise modules, libraries and other external code sources that introduce their own weaknesses. Remember, many of the groups that are engaged in cybercrime are doing so at the behest of state actors, including well-funded intelligence services. You can never be too paranoid when it comes to your cyber security.
Long Term Benefits
If you ensure that your entire workforce has had cyber security training, you will soon find that good practice becomes embedded in your corporate culture. Of course, there are lots of things you can do to encourage this.
By engaging all of your workers in cyber security, you take it from an obscure concern for your IT team, to something that all of your workers are conscious of. Good cyber security is mostly about educating people and encouraging common sense. The ways that most hackers make their way into systems, by manipulating workers, relies on those workers not realising the consequences of what they are doing.
This is of course frustrating for the IT workers who have put cyber security systems and protocols in place, only for them to be undermined from within. However, the best remedy for this is to pre-emptively arm your workers with a basic understanding of your business’s cyber security systems.
Return on Investment
Sometimes, it helps to look at things in pure business terms. Of course, security training for your staff will cost you money, so it is only natural for you to ask yourself whether or not it is worth the investment. The answer is a very firm yes.
You won’t make money from training your staff in cyber security, but you will shield your business from numerous potential serious losses. For example, now that GDPR is in effect in Europe, businesses that are careless with their customers’ data are risking potentially serious fines. It is therefore in your financial interest to ensure that you are meeting all of your data protection obligations.
Then there’s the issue of lost trust. When companies suffer serious security breaches, they suffer a serious hit to their reputation. Sometimes the effects of massive data breaches can take time to be felt. It is often only after hackers combine databases from numerous different breaches that they are able to put together a useful email and password combinations. This is why reusing passwords is a bad idea.
Security training is a sensible investment for any business to make. Even small businesses are required to take the security of their customers’ data seriously under the GDPR. If you are found in breach of the GDPR, the potential fines are enormous. Security training is a no-brainer, it’s an investment that every business should make.