Cyber Safety 101: Essential Training To Make Your Employees Human Firewalls

Employee errors

The Goof That Got One of Your Employees Fired

One of your employees was surfing the web on his work computer, same as always. He clicked an intriguing link in his inbox and the next thing he knew – your entire company’s customer database was encrypted. 

One of your employees unknowingly downloaded a nasty ransomware bug that spread like wildfire through the system. The hackers demanded big money to unlock the frozen data. Sadly, his employer refused to pay up.

They had no backups. Restoring gigabytes of lost data would cost millions. The company took a massive financial hit…and one of your employees took the blame. He was fired on the spot.

If only his company had invested in proper cybersecurity training. Stories like this play out every day across the globe. But they don’t have to.

Expert research shows that around 30% of data breaches originate from employee mistakes. And over 90% of successful cyber attacks leverage social engineering like phishing. Yet many organizations still underestimate the need for comprehensive staff education.

This article will walk through key training topics to secure your human firewall. Follow these cyber safety essentials and you’ll never be a “Greg”.

The Cost of Cyber Illiteracy

Before exploring solutions, let’s examine the consequences. A 2022 IBM study found that the average data breach costs surveyed companies $4.35 million.

Analyst firm CyberReason reports that 52% of companies feel staff mistakes leading to breaches cause “extreme damage” to operations and finances. 

One infamous example involved a Twitter employee falling for a phishing text in 2020. This granted hackers access to internal tools, leading to high-profile account takeovers.

The takeaway? Cyber literacy across all employees is no longer optional. It requires investment in training to avoid dire financial and reputational pitfalls

Must-Cover Training Topics

An effective cybersecurity awareness program should comprehensively educate employees on the following areas:


Phishing Identification


One of the most common attack vectors is phishing emails, texts, and calls impersonating trusted entities. Training must teach employees how to:


  • Spot telltale signs of phishing like urgent tone, suspect links/attachments, grammatical errors, and spoofed domains. Provide examples of real-world phishing messages.
  • Safely report suspicious messages to IT for investigation before interacting. 
  • Understand the goal is not to blame, but proactive defence against rapidly evolving social engineering.

Interactive modules that allow staff to pick out phishing messages from legitimate emails can drive retention. Testing knowledge through simulated phishing campaigns is crucial.


Secure Internet Usage 

The internet offers a prime gateway for threats. Employees need guidance on:

  •  The risks of clicking unvetted links, downloading unexpected files, using public Wi-Fi networks, and unsafe browsing habits.
  • Following secure web use policies on company devices and networks, including blocking high-risk sites.
  • Using up-to-date antivirus, firewalls, and malware protections.
  • Recognizing spyware, keyloggers, and other sneakier threats that evade filters.


Password Hygiene

Weak or reused passwords represent a top vulnerability. Training should enforce:

  • Using a password manager to generate and store strong, random, unique passwords for all sites/services. 
  • Enabling multi-factor authentication whenever available to augment passwords.
  • Never share credentials across personal and work accounts.
  • Changing passwords immediately if suspicion of compromise arises.  

Regularly required password resets also help thwart unauthorized access.


Data Handling 

Careless data handling causes many breaches. Employees must understand:

  • Classifying data as public, internal, confidential, etc. based on sensitivity.
  • Encrypting sensitive data and being cautious when sharing via email or cloud apps.
  • Using secure channels and access controls when collaborating externally. 
  • Following data retention policies to avoid keeping unneeded data.

Serving Up Engaging Training

Checkerbox compliance training simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to security awareness. To drive adoption and retention, organizations should:


Incorporate Real-Life Stories and Examples

Use anecdotes of actual breaches at other companies to hit home the real-world impacts. Show examples of phishing emails and texts that staff could encounter. Videos bringing concepts to life are more memorable than static slides. 


Leverage Interactive Quizzes and Games

Engrain learning through interactive elements. Quizzes at the end of modules test comprehension and provide feedback. Friendly team games allow for practising new skills like identifying phishing. Rewards and leaderboards incentivize participation.


Simulate Real Threats

Go beyond theory by running simulated phishing and social engineering campaigns. Send mock malicious emails and texts and track reporting. This tests preparedness against threats that bypass filters. Celebrate quick response rates.


Tie Training to Incentives 

Make training mandatory rather than optional, with progress tightly tracked. Consider tying completion rates to rewards or performance reviews. Lack of participation should carry repercussions.


Refresh Content Frequently

Annual or one-off training has limited value. Reinforce concepts through regular, focused sessions on emerging threat trends. Keep materials updated and release new interactive modules.


Promote Security Culture

Recognize those who spot and report phishing tests or who suggest improvements. Call out quick learner teams. Make cyber safety part of company culture through awareness months with contests and swag. 

The goal is immersive training staff don’t just breeze through once a year. Well-executed education pays dividends in strengthening human defences.

Get Smart: Invest in Your Human Firewall

Cyber attacks aimed at staff are rising. But truly effective training remains scarce. Don’t be caught off guard by making the wrong assumptions. 


Prioritize continuous, engaging education on these key topics:


– Phishing tricks and response

– Secure internet habits 

– Password best practices

– Safe data handling

– Remote work risks

– Social media precautions 

– Breach reporting procedures


Stop assuming employees will self-educate on cyber safety. Invest in their training now before an avoidable incident strikes your organization. 


Platforms like CyberAngels make modern training easy through interactive modules, simulated attacks, and automated delivery. Say goodbye to PowerPoint lectures. Say hello to cyber-savvy employees.


Don’t be the next like this company. Get ahead of threats by signing up for all-in-one protection with CyberAngels today.


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