If you’re in the habit of checking the news online you will have noticed that almost daily now there are reports of data breaches by attackers. Cyber security headlines are all too frequent and alert us to the skill and persistence of hackers.
Many organisations still rely on traditional security controls in the form of technology such as anti-virus software and firewalls, etc. to protect their critical assets but it is now clear that this is not enough. The increasing importance of employee security awareness is often overlooked with companies providing little or no basic awareness training.
Personnel and processes are often disregarded when it comes to improving security, partly because the security risk they pose to an organisation is difficult to measure and track.
These days, this a crucial issue with cyber security, but businesses that (very sensibly) put in place IT software security often struggle to get senior management to address a risk that they haven’t been able to quantify, or even prove exists.
The problem is that as the technical, on-line security of organisations increases, attackers are looking instead to a much weaker area: employees.
Investing in improving security via staff and processes can vastly reduce the chances of undermining the investment in your technology-based solution.
If you think about it – there is so much information regarding an organisations employees available online and the most common way to exploit them is a phishing email that attempts to attract them to click on a link or attachment. Such e-mails can be anything from promises of deals or offers, to false claims of attached invoices or bank statements. Phishing assessments against employees have shown that as many as 60% to 90% of employees are susceptible to these attacks – effectively allowing an attacker to jump right over the traditional security controls.
So… how can you combat this?
How about some practical employee security awareness training?
Managed phishing assessments, for example, can act as a ‘cyber fire-drill’ for employees, regularly exposing them to various realistic attacks but in a controlled environment – it isn’t unusual for businesses to have 80% susceptibility the first assessment, but see a reduction to less than 10% after the second or third assessment.
Now for the processes … what do your computer users do when they do actually detect an attack? Do you have a process in place for them to follow if that happens? When employees fail to report attacks, it results in a greater exposure than your business would otherwise have had.
Regular “controlled” attacks can not only teach staff how to spot them, but also drills the security process to follow – dramatically reducing your exposure to attack.
Action you can take:
- Teach employees to recognise bogus emails and not click anything they do not fully trust. Not all security technology will stop malicious emails getting through, therefore they must be vigilant
- Carry out regular phishing assessments or “cyber-attack drills”
- Have in place a process to report phishing emails and who to notify in case they clicked purposely or by error; ideally to be carried out within 15 minutes