A group of soldiers forming a human firewall around an email symbol.

The Human Firewall: 6 steps to design effective cybersecurity training using your staff

Yann Guides 8 minutes

The cybersecurity threat landscape is constantly evolving, and cyberattacks becoming more common with 4 in 10 businesses reporting having cybersecurity breaches or attacks in the past 12 months. There are many cybersecurity solutions available to strengthen a business’s security posture, including firewalls, endpoint protection and email security.

However, for a business to safeguard themselves from a potential attack they must also invest in the concept of the human firewall. The human firewall is the last line of defence, and it is only effective if employees are given effective cybersecurity guidance and training. In this article we will discuss what is cybersecurity training, why it is important and the 6 steps to design effective cybersecurity training in house.

What is cybersecurity training?

Cybersecurity training encourages employees to understand the cybersecurity threat landscape, how to identify security risks and the process of reporting potential cyberattacks or poor security practices. Effective cybersecurity training can decrease the chance of a business falling victim to a cyberattack, whilst developing a positive security culture within a business.

Why is it important?

All employees that have access to company data play an important role in safeguarding their business from potential cyberattacks. If an employee does not have sufficient training, they are more likely to make a mistake that could lead to a large-scale data breach or cybersecurity incident. A data breach will hurt a business through potential fines, as well as a loss of reputation that can be difficult to recover from. Other common cybersecurity incidents, such as ransomware, can  cause irreversibly damage a business, especially if they are unable to afford to pay the ransom. With effective cybersecurity training, it is less likely a business will fall victim to such an attack.

How to design effective cybersecurity training

1 – Collect data to find weak points

For cybersecurity training to be effective, it is important to focus resources on the weak points within a business. This data may be collected from previous cybersecurity incidents within a business or any ‘near misses’. It is also important to consider the specific threats that certain industries face, and tailor training to address these topics.

2 – Decide the scope of the training

When designing cybersecurity training, businesses must cover enough information to give employees the tools required to identify potential attacks, without going into too much detail and confusing the audience. Some topics that should be covered include phishing attacks, social engineering attacks, password hygiene and how to work securely whilst hybrid working. Depending on a business’s budget, it may be effective to run different levels of cybersecurity training for different job roles, as different roles have varying levels of access to data and associated risks.

3 – Set clear achievable goals

In order to measure the success of cybersecurity training, businesses should set clear achievable goals. This may include a decrease in cybersecurity incidents or ‘near misses’. If businesses already run phishing simulation tests, the goal may be to improve the results of subsequent tests.

4 – Implement engaging training

In order for training to be effective it should be interesting, engaging and relevant to the business and the employee’s role. This may include using real-world examples of previous attack attempts on a business, or a real-time training simulation where employees must act as if there is an actual cyberattack. Using simulations and real-world examples will make it easier for employees to connect with the training and will highlight any areas of weakness.

5 – Evaluate to optimise training

After training is complete, businesses should measure the effectiveness to see if they have achieved the goals set in step 3. If the goal was not reached, it is important to understand why, and what can be done in future training sessions to increase effectiveness.

6 – Make learning an ongoing process

Cybersecurity training should not be an annual task, as employees will often forget elements of the training, and new attack methods may arise which employees are not aware of. Businesses should instead make learning an ongoing process with refresher training, or short fun quizzes being run often. Similarly, businesses should monitor their KPIs to ensure that employees maintain their focus on cybersecurity.

What’s next?

There are many elements that need to work together to ensure businesses do not fall victim to a cyberattack.

If you can properly use your staff to become a line of defence you will go a long way towards safeguarding your precious business.

Contact us today if you want to find out more about how you can strengthen your security posture.