Due to the rising use of various technology and personal devices in our daily lives, end-user security awareness training has become a priority, especially in the workplace. Your developers, network administrators, and IT staff may be well-trained to detect and prevent security incidents and data breaches, but this isn’t enough.
Maintenance of technology assets must be practiced by all your company employees. The biggest reason to extend this responsibility across all parts of the organization is that we can often forget that a much larger group of people is also an essential part of overall security – end-users.
In our focus on spreading cybersecurity awareness, let’s take a look at how end-users can better safeguard their personal information and the organization’s data with best practices on technology usage in the workplace.
What is End-User Security Awareness?
First, we must unpack the meaning of the terms “end-user” and “end-user security awareness”.
An end-user is an employee who uses the hardware and software assets of a company to perform their job role. It includes people at all levels of the organization, from the receptionist to the CEO. They will have different skills and expertise, but they all require knowledge of the technology that supports their roles and job functions.
End-user security awareness is one component of a company’s security policy. It encompasses the education of employees to identify various cyber threats, including phishing and other social-engineering attacks.
Why Your Organisation Needs End-User Security Awareness Training
No matter how secure you think your system and network may be, phishing and other social-engineering attacks can still slip through your security measures if you’re not careful. Designed to trick employees and put your business at risk for data loss and financial loss, the attack techniques of malicious actors are constantly evolving and growing more sophisticated by the day.
End-user security awareness training helps prepare your employees for this eventuality and transforms them from being potential attack victims into multiple layers of defense for your business. Employees are provided with the vital information they need to detect potential attacks and take the appropriate actions to protect your business.
8 Best Practices for End-User Security Awareness Training
Anti-Phishing and Social Engineering
Amongst all the attacks used by hackers to gain access to sensitive data, phishing attacks, and social engineering scams are most commonly encountered by people. At the very least, your employees need awareness training to know what makes an email suspicious.
Most end-user security awareness training programs will certainly focus on emails that are received. However, you should also provide best practices for emails that are sent internally by your employees.
This includes what should and should not be attached to an email, the dangers of putting too many unnecessary people on an email thread, and the dangers of sharing data outside the organization (for example, sending a file of sensitive data to your personal email address so you can work on it at home later).
Strong Passwords and Password Management
Have you heard of brute force attacks? If your employees do not create strong passwords for their accounts, they can easily fall victim to this kind of attack. All your employees must know the basic rules of password management (for example, never share passwords).
A security awareness best practice that must be prioritized at all times is keeping data backups. The company should provide their employees a secure backup storage for their data. At the same time, they should be trained on how to use it and how sensitive data should be handled.
With the prevalence of web-based collaborative platforms like Microsoft Sharepoint and file-sharing platforms like Google Drive, your company must stress the importance of data classification and privacy to all employees.
Software Patches and Updates
Either via internal announcements or automatic settings on their devices, employees should be reminded to patch software, especially their operating systems and any applications which handle critical or sensitive data, when critical updates are released.
Some of the biggest ransomware attacks to date were responsible for causing great damage and considerable business downtime because security patches were not implemented on vulnerable operating systems. Read more here.
Anti-virus programs are a must-have for all external company devices. Your employees should never disable these systems for any reason.
Nowadays more job roles require employees to browse the web during work hours. The company should share best practices for safe web browsing within the organization (for example, how to examine a URL, limiting access to work-related sites, never downloading from suspicious websites, etc.).
Use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
If your employees must access your networks and servers from remote, off-site locations, then provide them a VPN and training in best practices for its use.
Useful and Relevant Articles for End-User Security Awareness Training
- 8 Email Security Tips for Users & Companies to Know
- What Are Clickjacking Attacks and How to Prevent Them
- How to Prevent Brute Force Attacks
- Why is Encryption Important?
How to Improve Cybersecurity Awareness RIGHT NOW
As part of end-user security awareness training, attack simulations are typically used to test employees’ preparedness to such threats. Your company should look into conducting a mock phishing attack to imitate what a real hack might look like.
Conducting a simulation of a phishing attack is one of the best ways to gauge how ready your company is to spot a phishing email. By simulating a targeted attack, you will see how many of your employees are practicing the right amount of caution when checking their emails.
Primary Guard has launched ToPhish, a spear-phishing simulator that allows companies to enhance their cybersecurity awareness programs by launching simulated phishing campaigns internally. Evaluate your company’s risk assessment and take actions to improve it.
ToPhish is a quick way to test your company’s security awareness against phishing attacks. Try it TODAY!