How to Educate Your Employees on Cybersecurity Fundamentals (and Why You Should)

November 3, 2022

It’s tempting to leave cybersecurity entirely up to your security and IT teams. They’re the professionals who are trained in the art of managing firewalls, practicing ongoing monitoring, and responding to threats, after all.

But if you take cybersecurity seriously, you ought to go a step further and educate and train all your employees, regardless of position or status. Why do we say this is important, and how can you get started?

Why It’s Important to Educate and Train Employees

Let’s start with why it’s important to educate and train your employees about cybersecurity. Certain teams and individuals may be largely disconnected from security concerns, but it’s critical for even these colleagues to be actively involved in grasping cybersecurity fundamentals.

For example, you’ll want to train your maintenance and repair teams on cybersecurity, even if they’re not part of your IT department. These are just some of the reasons why this is vital:

  • A single weak link can lead to disaster. You should understand that a single weak link can create a catastrophe for your organization. If even one of your employees voluntarily gives out a password, allows a stranger entry to their accounts, or falls prey to a common scheme, your coworker could unwittingly enable a cybercriminal to gain access to your entire organization. Fortunately, most of these attack attempts are easy to thwart, but you must have all your employees on the same page.
  • Workers are common targets. Why would a hacker spend countless hours trying to bust his way through your robust security systems when he could just spend a few minutes persuading one of your employees to give up their login credentials? The reality is employees are very common targets. You’ll have to educate and train them to be resistant.
  • Firewalls and VPNs aren’t foolproof. Your security infrastructure isn’t perfect, whatever you’ve got. No matter how robust your firewalls, VPNs, and other security measures are, they could theoretically become useless if one of your employees suffers a phishing attack (or something similar).
  • Cybersecurity knowledge is generically useful. It’s also worth noting that knowledge about cybersecurity topics is generically useful for your employees. Your team will be more effective at keeping your organization secure, certainly, but they’ll also be more effective at improving security for the rest of their life. They may be grateful for the cybersecurity training and education after you’ve provided it.

How to Approach Cybersecurity Training and Education

Do you know how to approach the mission of teaching your employees the basics of cybersecurity?

  • Provide training universally. First, make the training available to everyone, without exception. This isn’t just for your IT department, nor is it something you should tackle on an individual basis. Instead, it’s a better idea to draw all your employees together so they can learn as a team. This will ensure there are no weak links within your operation, and it can serve as a bonding experience for everyone who attends.
  • Start with the absolute basics. Did you know that 51 percent of people use the same passwords for both personal and professional accounts? And though we don’t have concrete numbers, we know an astonishing number of people still use the word “password” as their password! Most people simply don’t know the basics of cybersecurity. Thus, you’d be wise to start with the absolute fundamentals. Don’t assume your employees know more than they actually do; go ahead and err on the side of over-teaching.
  • Focus on common scams. You can touch on more complex topics, but you’re better off focusing on the common scams, like phishing attempts and social engineering. These are the threats that are most likely to victimize your employees and render your high-level security tactics ineffective. Spend most of your time on them.
  • Reduce your curricula to key points. Try to reduce your lessons to simple mnemonic devices or a handful of bullet-point takeaways. Despite your best intentions, some of your employees aren’t going to remain fully engaged throughout the lessons – and some might be confused or overwhelmed by all the new information thrust at them. You can make things simpler and more digestible if you reduce them to bite-sized chunks; you’ll also make the material easier to reference in the future.
  • Refresh the knowledge regularly. The arena of cybersecurity (to say nothing of the threats) is always evolving, so it’s crucial to refresh your employees’ knowledge on a regular basis. Consider hosting new educational sessions annually (or even more often), or send out weekly or monthly newsletters to keep your team informed.
  • Issue new alerts as necessary. When you learn about a new security vulnerability or a common scam that has risen in frequency, issue new alerts. Keep your employees abreast of breaking developments that may be relevant to them.

Cybersecurity fundamentals don’t take long to teach, and they can keep your employees more secure – both in professional and personal contexts. It’s well worth the time and money to train them adequately, so you have no excuse not to make an effort.


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