Darran Clare

You can’t “patch” people. Why IT should get help with employee cyber security awareness

  By Darran Clare

As an IT manager, you know that technology is not the silver bullet in countering phishing threats, there are human factors at play, and the last line of defence is your user’s response to emails, texts, calls and other communications that reach them.

To ensure you have full protection, the challenge is in preparing employees to deal with any threats, making sure they are cyber aware, and that they understand the steps they need to take when they receive a suspicious email.

There are platforms out there to help, but setting up a successful cybersecurity awareness programme to “patch” the situation is complex – and any quick fix approach is not enough. You need to ensure that employees are continuously kept in the loop, skilled, motivated and effective. It is time consuming to keep track of the different types of phishing threats out there, along with the countless ways in which employees can be manipulated into clicking on malicious links or attachments.

Running a full cybersecurity awareness programme throws up areas which are outside the traditional IT job description, and normally led by senior management or within the remit of the HR department. Mitigating the phishing security risk needs an understanding of human behaviours, to educate employees and create a cyber security culture which is inclusive and rewarding for all staff.

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Non-IT Factors that are Key to Success for an Employee Cyber Security Awareness Programme

For a successful cybersecurity awareness programme, there are some keys to success that are typically outside of the realm of IT departments’ current capabilities and capacity:

  • Raising and maintaining cybersecurity awareness – training platforms are available, but it’s a significant drain on resources to run them frequently enough. Resources not in IT.
  • Engaging Employees – changing behaviour and helping employees retain the information they learn requires an understanding of the types of training and communications that work best and engage employees. Not IT.
  • All-round communications – it’s not just about training ‘sessions’. All types of communications are needed on a frequent basis to keep employees aware – email updates, newsletters, blogs, posters, videos, etc. Not IT.
  • Keeping track of the learning process – the cybersecurity awareness programme needs to be monitored with reporting on how employees are engaging with the training and other activities, to monitor progress and identify learning gaps. Not IT.
  • Building a security culture – it’s essential to build a culture in which cybersecurity is seen as being part of the business operations and where staff have an understanding of the role they play in helping security. It is important to encourage people to report suspicions, and errors, to give them feedback and support to improve. Not IT.

It is easy to see that a full cybersecurity awareness programme, with regular phishing simulation campaigns alongside employee training brings an additional burden and new demands to the IT team, especially when there is no one person specifically responsible for cyber security. You might consider buying or building a cybersecurity awareness platform, and running a programme yourself. But the cost of using specialist IT people to do this is high. It may be more cost effective to use a service provider to manage your programme.

Bringing Everything Together – IT Tools and Employee Cyber Security Awareness Skills

IT are hugely important in the process of minimising the risk that phishing represents, but it’s a range of influences and skills that maximise your defences, not all of which exist in a typical IT department. A managed cybersecurity awareness programme under the oversight of IT, for example chosen from the range of phishing awareness and prevention services provided by School of Phish, can bring these elements together. A fully managed programme delivered efficiently, rather than soaking up expensive IT time, ensures:-

  • Regularity of testing through phishing simulations to identify the risk.
  • Regular and consistent training for staff to keep you up to date with the latest threats.
  • A base line understanding of where your organisation is currently, with ongoing measurement and reporting so that you can get a clear picture of where improvements need to be made.
  • Engaging content and training that is geared towards how people learn and remember.
  • Staff are able to report suspicious emails. School of Phish investigate and analyse the email, then report the results back to the IT team, so that you can stop the email going to other staff inboxes.
  • Staff are praised and shown how well they are doing in helping the organisation to counter phishing threats.

Plus, we will also keep you up to date with the latest threat intelligence which is specific to your industry, along with dark web intelligence, which show any accounts that may have been compromised.

You can’t “patch” people, but you can use a managed service which will deliver regular phishing simulations and a fully-fledged cybersecurity programme that will help you to build a cybersecurity aware culture within your organisation.

For advice or an assessment of your current position, get in touch with the School of Phish.

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