Why your company needs end user security training

The vast majority of cyber security breaches are directly related to human error. After a phishing or ransomware attack, the employee who enabled the attack may be terminated.

Chances are the vast majority of these employees were not given end user security training to avoid these disasters.

Lack of such training amounts to negligence which hurts both the employee and the company.

Fortunately, there's a solution: end user security training.

What is end user security training?

End user security training is a formal process for educating employees about cyber security.

Formally training employees has at least two benefits:

  1. It guarantees that employees have been exposed to security training.

  2. It increases the chances that employees are following the same practices.

The need for end user security training

Remote work has made preventing cyber attacks more difficult. As workforces and data systems have become more spread out, companies have taken on more attack surface, giving bad actors more options to exploit. This change in the workforce has put more responsibility on a company's employees (end users), but many companies lag behind in terms of end user security training.

IBM estimates that data breaches in 2021 cost businesses an average of $4.24 million.

There are a number of ways these data breaches can cost businesses, including:

  • Lost business share.

  • Loss of customers.

  • Lost revenue.

  • Increasing cost of acquiring new business due to diminished reputation.

Also, whether your company offers training—or the quality of training—may be a factor in your cyber liability insurance premiums. Insurance providers are asking about companies' training policies on the applications and weighing the quality of the answers.

These points show why end user security training is no trivial matter and should be a part of every company's security portfolio.

Why is educating end users important if my company already has security defense programs?

Email security tools reduce how many phishing emails get into users' inboxes. But bad emails will still get through. At some point, protecting your network comes down to whether your employees click a bad link or open a malicious attachment. In this case, the buck stops with your employees.

Bad actors look for the easiest way in. And they usually find it through a company's employees.

Companies often say that people are their most important asset. But untrained employees can be a company's biggest security liability. 

The two pillars of end user security training

End user security training is made up of two crucial elements:

  1. The proactive element

  2. The reactive element


The proactive element

The proactive element of end user security training is the pillar focused on classroom learning by educational materials including:

  • Videos.

  • Articles.

  • Infographics.

This is where end users are prepped on what to look out for and what to do when they come across materials from bad actors.

The reactive element

The reactive element of end user security training is the pillar focused on practice and how end users actually respond to cyber threats by simulating attacks.

The most common form of attack simulation comes through email security testing, when employees are sent simulated phishing attempts.

To be effective, these simulated attacks should be:

  • Challenging — The simulations are best when they require end users to think before they click.

  • Continuous — The simulations cannot be a one-time thing.

  • Persistent — The simulations should take place at different times.

End user security training allows you to identify struggling employees. Then you know where to focus education efforts to prevent a cyber attack.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can't know the weakest link of your security chain if you don't test your employees.

Make end user security training part of your security portfolio today

Good security should be a habit for every company. Unfortunately, most people have horrible security practices they bring to the workplace, putting their employers' data and systems at risk.

To improve, end users first need proper education, which must be followed up with actual practice.

This is why end user security training is the best way to empower a company's workers and to reduce the odds of unwanted cyber events.

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