Importance of cybersecurity training for employees

Editorial Team

5 min read
Person writing in notebook during employee training

Cyberattacks are on the rise. In 2021 the average number of cyberattacks and data breaches increased by 15.1% over the previous year. As the number of attacks tick up, so do the costs. The average cost of a data breach in the US is $9.44M.

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While most small businesses may not see those kinds of losses, damages from cyberattacks can be devastating, nonetheless.

The good news is that training employees on cybersecurity threats can help prevent cybersecurity issues and prepare for those they may encounter.

What is cybersecurity training for employees?

Cybersecurity training focuses on helping employees understand the cybersecurity threats that exist, the risks they pose to your business, how to prevent them, and what to do when they encounter those threats.

Further, it can teach employees how to spot and size up risks–and the consequences of security breaches. It can act both as an educational tool and a preventative measure for those employees who may introduce security breaches–whether unintentionally or intentionally.

Why cybersecurity training is important

Cybersecurity training helps to address human error–one of the most significant security threats to any business. In fact, 82% of data breaches involve some kind of human element. What’s more, training staff on cybersecurity aims to help reduce a business’ vulnerability to security issues and improve its resilience when confronted with security threats–it places your staff on guard to security issues that threaten your business and teaches them how to spot them.

What does cybersecurity training for employees look like?

How you train your employees and how long it takes is something that can be designed to fit the needs of your business and employees. Training can be done in person or online, individually or in a group, in a day or over several sessions. You can manage the training yourself or outsource it.

Whatever format you choose for your employees, cybersecurity training should lay the foundation about threats that exist and the policies your business has put in place to prevent and address those threats. And, it could be beneficial to conduct ad-hoc training as new threats emerge.

4 key topics in cybersecurity awareness training

To ensure your employees are up-to-speed on your policies and the threats that exist, cybersecurity training could help address these topics.

1. Company data policy

Employees should know what your business policies are about how to handle data–financial data, employee data, and especially customer data (like customers’ stored credit card and personal information). Fraudulent charges and accompanying legal fees can be costly and can damage a customer’s trust–especially in a food and beverage establishment. In fact, as much as 62% of restaurant guests are concerned about potential fraud when sharing their information.

It’s important to cover what should be done when a data breach occurs. That means, employees should know what the plan is and how to follow it if a breach occurs, including:

  • Making sure employees know who to notify immediately if they suspect a data breach.
  • Notifying credit card companies involved to protect customer data.
  • Letting customers know and explaining what you’re doing to protect them.
  • Investigating the incident to prevent that kind of incident going forward.

READ: What happens when a company experiences a data breach

2. Passwords

Since most retail businesses use POS systems, time tracking programs, and other business management software that require passwords, it’s important that employees know how to securely set, reset, and store passwords–and how not to store sensitive password information. Even if your employees seem to understand the importance of secure password management, it begs repeating that mishandling passwords can put business systems at risk.

One of the simplest and most effective things to teach employees about passwords is how to set a secure password, paying attention to:

  • Password length – The longer the password (a minimum of 8 characters), the more difficult it is to crack.
  • Character sets – The more character sets (think uppercase, lowercase, numerals, or symbols) used in a password can help make it even tougher to figure out.
  • Complete words – While using a common word might make the password simple to remember, it can make it easy for an attacker to figure out using a “dictionary attack”.
  • Reused passwords – Reusing passwords across multiple accounts makes it easier for hackers to break into other accounts–even if just one profile is compromised. Changing passwords regularly helps.

3. Hardware and software

A simple way to make sure your system, website, router, and other hardware are fully protected is to stay up–to-date with software updates and security patches as soon as they’re available. They can often address current vulnerabilities.

And, be sure to teach your employees about 4 of the biggest cybersecurity threats–malware, ransomware, keylogging software, and card testing–and how to avoid becoming a victim to them. That means, not downloading any unauthorized software on company hardware. To help your business stay secure, Clover builds its POS systems with Clover Security Plus, so you can know that every transaction, from swipe, dip, or tap to finish, is better protected.

4. Social and email

Hackers are opportunists. Your social and email accounts provide a great opportunity for them to “spoof” or copy your online accounts to solicit your customers for personal information. You can stifle their efforts simply by changing out passwords regularly and watching for activity on accounts you don’t use very often. So, train your employees to monitor your business accounts for fraudulent activity and spoofing.

And be sure to include training on properly handling emails your business receives. For example, always hover over links to make sure they go where they say they go or scan attachments before opening, checking file extensions for unusual file types.

This starter list of topics can be adjusted to suit the needs of your business. You can also add topics that may be just as relevant to your business, like keeping mobile devices secure, understanding acceptable internet usage at work, or maintaining secure document management.

To learn more about how you can protect your business with Clover, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.

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