In general, we all know we need to keep our critical and sensitive data safe. We know about identity theft; we know about stolen data. We know we should keep our credit card numbers safe and be careful about where we release our Social Security Numbers. This is why there are laws like HIPAA, which are intended to safeguard our identities by protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
But do we really know what sensitive information is? Do we know what qualifies as Personally Identifiable Information? And on top of that, do we really know how to protect it?
This can be a deceptively simple question, because most of us would probably say, “Yes, sure, I know what I should be keeping safe and to be cautious about who I give it to.” Ah, but are you sure? Here’s a real world example:
The accounting department staff know that they handle sensitive data, especially credit card data. The HR manager handles a lot of Personally Identifiable Information, like Social Security Numbers and birthdates. The IT department has directed all these employees to create strong passwords, which change every 90 days. They hear a lot about security and being cautious of phishing emails and ransomware. People feel like they know how to be safe.
Then, the IT department switches on a security feature in Office 365 that detects when potentially sensitive data is being sent unencrypted in people’s email. They find that many staff members are sending credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, staff’s home addresses, and more in plain text in their email! This stuff is unencrypted and could be intercepted and read by anyone. But until now, absolutely no one thought it was wrong to fire off their SSN to the HR manager.
What people think they know about security is not the same thing as what they really know. This is especially true if security education has been spotty, picked up in email tips and meetings and conversations over the years. There can be large gaps in anyone’s knowledge. We often don’t really understand how to put security measures in practice while doing our usual work every day. Someone can know a lot about avoiding ransomware and suspicious emails, and yet think nothing of the dangers of using public wi-fi.
One way to be sure is to go through security awareness training.
The Purpose of Security Training
Security training on protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and sensitive data can help people clarify what this data actually is and how to protect it. Effective security training also focuses on case studies and real world examples, from the perspective of ordinary people who actually encounter security threats and have to decide how to deal with it.
Test Your Security Knowledge
Another important aspect of security education is testing. Your employees have been educated on phishing emails – but how well do they do when you actually test them? Do you have a way to test their knowledge and behavior?
The next step up from one-time or annual security training is a service or platform that gives you tools to keep your employees up to date on the latest threats and lets you test them with things like fake phishing email scenarios. A service like this should also be able to provide you with assessments of your policies and rules regarding cybersecurity in your organization, and whether you have technical or administrative safeguards to enforce the protection of sensitive data.
Is it worth it?
Even though it may seem like a lot to ask your employees to pay attention to, comprehensive security training can be incredibly valuable. Testing your employees, finding their weak spots, and then training them again can reduce security risks both personally and for your business. Looking to the future, it’s quite conceivable that more and more regulations will be put in place that require companies to demonstrate they’ve taken appropriate measures to educate employees about cybersecurity and have security policies to reduce risk.
Security training is an investment now that will pay off in the future. Check to see if your employees are truly ready to help you avert data breaches and cyber attacks today.
Thinking about trying security training? OXEN Technology believes very strongly that security awareness training is a keystone of any organization’s security defense. We offer free annual Security Awareness Training that you can take advantage of right now.
Want to test your employees with phishing simulations or assess your security risk? You can build on our free security training with our Paid Security Portal, that includes services like phishing tests, an annual Security Risk Assessment, weekly micro-training, and a monthly security newsletter.