The must-read guide to security awareness training for SMEs

According to the World Economic Forum, 95% of cyber security incidents are caused by human error. That’s a significant number of issues that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have to deal with, but in an era where there’s more cybercrime and malicious codes than sand on a beach, organisations ought to be doing everything they can to put cyber security as their number one priority.

Security awareness training is vital to cyber safety. But let’s not wait any longer – it’s time to dive into this comprehensive guide on awareness training and talk about what the aforementioned is, why it’s important for SMEs, and what to look for in a cyber security trainer.

An overview of security awareness training

Also known as cyber security awareness training, awareness training is an interactive learning program that seeks to educate employees on the latest cyber security threats, providing staff with the skills and expertise they need to shore up their information security measures and protect organisational systems. 

It’s not like sitting in a lecture hall and listening to someone drone on and on about a specific topic. It’s the complete opposite! Security awareness training programs inspire participants to take their company’s data security seriously, ultimately creating a culture that leverages advanced cyber security solutions and practices to help stop cyber threats in their digital tracks.

What can awareness training protect SMEs from?

In the business landscape, cybercriminals operate according to a dog-eat-dog code. Translation: our companies have targets on their backs, and malicious entities are always trying to damage our security postures and steal our data. 

And with human error as a supporting actor that keeps starring in security breaches, there are more threats now than ever before. Security training can help protect our computer systems and information from the following:

Human error – we can’t stress this enough. Whether a staff member reuses passwords as a login shortcut (by the way, never do this) or someone clicks on a dodgy attachment in an email, human error can open a door for a malicious entity to glide through. 

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks – when networks are flooded with corrupted traffic, disrupting them temporarily or indefinitely.

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – when cybercriminals hijack data within exchanges via eavesdropping.

Phishing – a form of social engineering where hackers attempt to scam victims into offering their personal information, system credentials or other sensitive data.

Poor cyber security culture – an organisation that doesn’t understand network security or it doesn’t do enough to protect sensitive information. 

Malware – an all-purpose term for malevolent software that can launch cyber-attacks (including ransomware).

Cyber-attacks target companies 24/7/365. But with security training and dynamic cyber security solutions, SMEs can show those threats who’s boss, take their security postures from ‘so-so’ to ‘yes-yes!’, and scale up securely.

What does security awareness training include?

We might sound like we’re being dramatic, but it’s the truth – if an SME was a country, then cyber safety is a national security necessity. The training that an SME’s employees undertake needs to be more comprehensive than an owner’s manual, be as relevant as oxygen is to humans, and be more digestible than a McVitie’s biscuit!

Specifically, training needs to encompass:

An overview of cyber security risks – effective training will look at the latest cyber security threats and established risks. This overview may include the threats outlined above and other common threats.

How to identify suspect behaviour – employees need to be equipped with CIA-level knowledge to identify suspicious behaviour that could indicate (or lead to) a security breach. This includes recognising the signs of malware, network abuse, and other suspicious activity.

Security protocols and procedures – awareness training should also provide employees with a comprehensive understanding of the organisation’s cyber security solutions, protocols, and procedures. For example, this can cover industry regulations and organisational compliance for properly handling sensitive data.

Cyber security best practices – awareness training ought to include best practices for staying safe online and within the workplace. Here, we’re talking about creating secure passwords, Wi-Fi do’s and don’ts, how to protect personal devices, and more.

How to respond to a security breach – security awareness training needs to provide employees with the skills and knowledge to respond quickly in the event of a security breach. This can cover information on how to contain damages and how to prevent future data breaches.

Apart from information sharing, training sessions may also include exercises that allow participants to put their newly acquired skills to the test in a safe environment. By the end, our employees ought to feel empowered and ready to mitigate risks.

What to look for in a provider of cyber security awareness training

Investing in a security training provider is not like impulse buying a pair of shoes. There are a few things SMEs need to look out for to guarantee that they get the provider they need.

What to look for in security training providers:

Who’s ready for security training with Atarix?

If you want to protect your devices from cyber security threats, strengthen your security culture, ensure compliance, and acquire all the expertise you need to keep your networks secure, your business needs to invest in security training.

At Atarix, our cyber security training packages are designed to help SMEs improve their digital security performance. From general cyber security solutions to bring your own device (BYOD) practices, we have a package perfect for organisations eager to secure their networks and minimise risks for a safer future.