Key Strategies for Creating a Cyber Awareness Program

5 Key Strategies for

Creating a Cyber Awareness Program

5 Key Strategies for Creating a Cyber Awareness Program

A strong cyber-security posture goes well beyond the security team. Nowadays, cyber-criminals are not targeting exploits in your infrastructure, network or applications, but rather your employees. Some may click on a malicious link, accidentally download malware, or fall victim to a phishing scam. As threats evolve, however, you have to understand how you can make every member of your organization aware of the risks and how to react in the event of a security incident.

In order to build a strong and comprehensive cyber awareness program, organizations need to focus on giving security teams the resources they need to track risks and threats while offering cyber hygiene training to the rest of the staff. Let’s take a closer look at the five key strategies for creating a cyber awareness program.

1. Get Employee Buy-In

First and foremost, you’re going to need employee buy-in. Essentially, employees need to understand the magnitude of the consequences that can come with a cyber breach. More often than not, cyber-attacks target people. After all, human nature is easy to prey on. The best possible way to prevent these types of attacks is to educate your team.

Educating employees may seem like a no brainer, but you have to ensure they understand exactly what the stakes are. Organizations must take their cyber-security awareness trainings seriously - and a single training session won’t fit all the necessary information. As your organization - and the technological advancements surrounding it - evolve, your cyber-security training must evolve too.

Talk with your employees and figure out which time slots work best, how long each training session should be, and how often they should attend. Working around everyone’s capacities will help make training feel less like a chore and more like a learning opportunity.

2. Train Employees in Good Cyber Hygiene

Cyber-security lesson plans need to include every last detail, and include every employee. Make sure these training sessions incorporate your core business needs. This way, you can train employees in a truly valuable and straightforward way.

Your training program should be built on how employees can identify red flags. Start by reviewing security best practices with the team such as not connecting to public WiFi, administering updates and patches promptly, and not clicking on suspicious links. These are the types of human errors we mentioned above that could swiftly lead to a cyber breach.

In addition, your employees need to understand how to then respond to the red flags they’re seeing. Educate everyone on how to respond to phishing scams or malware links. These types of trainings will be what transforms basic cyber awareness knowledge into a general and consistent behavioral change.

3. Run Hands-On Exercises

Next, exercise! Just by doing hands-on exercises with security teams and lines of business, you will be able to make them more adept at spotting suspicious behavior. Run through potential phishing, malware, ransomware, and other suspicious scenarios and see where your weak spots are. For best results, try to test your team weeks after their cyber-security training by creating fake phishing emails and measure how many fail for the scam.

For those who are more visual, physical learners, this will be an excellent way to gain insight into cyber-security risks and threats. Plus, training should be at least a little entertaining. Slide shows aren’t always going to cut it. Face-to-face exercises will not only be more fun for everyone involved, but also encourage retention of knowledge.

4. Conduct a Threat Assessment

Another key strategy to building stronger overall cyber awareness is determining where your network is at risk. To figure this out, conduct a threat assessment. A threat assessment should provide you with a gap analysis so you can better design a roadmap. The goal of finalizing a roadmap is to prioritize risks based on which would be most critical if attacked.

Next, you can begin to fortify the network based on these priorities. Share your findings and roadmap with your colleagues so that everyone understands their responsibility in remediating the risks. When employees are educated and understand their role in cyber-security, they should have a better understanding of where to close the gap.

Plus, then the IT department can continuously monitor these areas to ensure that security standards are upheld. This should help mitigate your organization’s overall risk, so IT members can focus more on being proactive rather than reactive.

5. Review Threat Intelligence  

Finally, make sure security teams have access to threat data so they know exactly what is trending in the realm of cyber criminals. In this cloud-based, ever-evolving world threats are always subject to change. Your security teams need to know how they can best shore up appropriate defenses.

Another aspect of this is ensuring your existing security members are equipped to take on these more sophisticated threats. Employee retention is now more important than ever, as the level of expertise required to tackle complex threats is beginning to outweigh what security teams are capable of. Speak to your security team members and see if there is anything else they need to be better educated or trained on so that they feel confident and prepared.

The Bottom Line

Having a strong cyber awareness program is crucial to the overall success and safety of your organization. Working to ensure every team member is supported through cyber awareness training is a big step in the right direction. By following up with employees and consistently offering training and other exercises, you’ll be able to see a true behavior change across the board that will pay off in the long run.

If you’re unsure of where to begin your cyber awareness program, consider using our Managed Security services. When you partner with SoftwareONE, you’ll know exactly where your risks are and how to protect your assets. We’ll also work with you to stay ahead of potential threats so you can tailor your strategy to your business needs and better articulate to your team members what exactly needs to happen moving forward.

Launch Your Cyber Awareness Program Today

Looking to start a cyber awareness program at your organization, but don’t know where to begin? SoftwareONE’s Managed Security services are here to support you. Learn more about how we can help you devise a cyber awareness program plan that all of your employees adhere to.

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  • Managed Security, Cybersecurity
  • Cyber Assessment, Cyber Awareness

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Bala Sathunathan

Bala Sethunathan

Director, Security Practice & CISO


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