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Is Cyber Security Awareness Training Critical for SMBs?

by Cyberguy | Last Updated | March 26, 2022
CyberSecurity - SMB

How well are your employees prepared for cyber security attacks? You might think that cyber security awareness training is not for small businesses. You might also think that the bad guys are more interested in the bigger companies. Unfortunately you would be wrong on both counts. 

Not true

Small businesses are the easiest targets for cyber security attacks because of their low resources and lack of training. According to statistics from multiple sources, 43% of small firms were victims of cyberattacks in 2019. Of these attacks, 34% involved internal actors. An alarming 60% percent had to close their doors because the damage to the business was so great. 

Many small businesses don’t consider themselves a target. So they’re content with less defensive measures and put a low priority on cyber security awareness training for their employees. But SMBs are prime targets of hackers and experience every time of cyber attack including DDoS attacks, phishing attacks, data breaches, and identity theft nonetheless.

A bigger risk than you think

It’s not simple to run a small business. To keep up with the competition down the block, small businesses must guarantee that they are growing intelligently. Unless their business involves technology, cyber security awareness training is usually one of the last things on their minds, leaving them vulnerable.

Cyber attacks are always damaging and they may cost you your business. In a Forbes survey, 43% of small businesses in the U.S and the UK lost valuable data in a cyber attack. Those data include classified trade secrets that took years to develop. They also involve customers’ names, addresses, emails, and credit card information.

The cost of Human Error

Ransom is becoming more expensive. The average cost of a ransom attack was $84,000 in 2019. If you don’t have a lot of cash, that could be enough to dislocate your finances. 

Cyber breaches disrupt business. Do you know how long it takes to recover from a cyber attack? The Forbes survey estimated that 50% of businesses took 24 hours or longer to recover from a cyber attack

The statistics show what’s happening on the ground. Small businesses all the more need to beef up their cyber security program. A good first step is to strengthen the weakest point in their cyber security defense – their people. Make them aware of cyber security threats and train them how to defend themselves and your system from those threats.

So what is cyber security awareness training?

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Yet, they could be the weakest link that cyber criminals can exploit. What they need is comprehensive cyber security awareness training to teach them how to detect threats and defend against those threats.

Cyber Awareness Program

We’ve discussed insider threats in another blog. But just to recap, insider threats can come from people you don’t expect. They’re just around the corner, waiting for a moment to strike while bosses aren’t looking. 

Insider threat actors could be existing employees who are misusing corporate data. They are motivated by money and seek to supplement their income. They could also be disgruntled employees who intend to sabotage the company on purpose. And then there are those that make accidental errors. The last group are members of the insider threat circle who are unaware of what is going on.

So what is cyber security training?  It’s training that focuses on several cyber security subjects that each employee should be aware of. Letting employees understand these principles can assist small businesses develop a culture of security awareness in the workplace. 

Some of the biggest problems can be avoided entirely by training staff. It helps avoid crucial areas of failure before they happen. It helps resolve concerns that a regular employee can prevent. In the end, it improves the effectiveness and efficiency of information security.

Best Practices for Building

Phishing simulations are typically included in a larger cyber security awareness training program that teaches users how to recognize the warning signals of a fraudulent email.

The simulation, which appears as a new email in the user’s inbox, puts what they’ve learnt to the test. A landing page is frequently displayed when a user interacts with the simulation by clicking on a “malicious” link or downloading an attachment. Here they are told how they should have reacted to the situation. Admins can then assign them additional training.

If a user doesn’t interact with the simulation or reports it to their IT department, the training was successful.

Some of the biggest problems can be avoided entirely by training staff. It helps avoid crucial areas of failure before they happen. It helps resolve concerns that a regular employee can prevent. In the end, it improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the company’s security operations.

Why is a cyber security program important to SMBs?

There are no guarantees when it comes to cyber attacks. However, cyber security awareness training will instill alertness to cyber security threats in employees. They will be better able to face them head on and respond when presented to them.

Benefits of Cyber Security

Here are some of the most important benefits of cybersecurity awareness in the workplace:

Heightened security

This is the most obvious advantage of cybersecurity awareness training. Making your entire staff aware of the various risks that exist, ranging from data breaches to ransomware, will prevent them from making simple mistakes that could jeopardize your company’s security.

Employees will be more aware of information security best practices, apps, and technologies used in the workplace. They will learn more about common types of social engineering attacks, such as phishing and spear phishing. They will also be better equipped to use social media and emails more prudently.

If your employees are unaware of hackers’ capabilities, a single mistake might cost you a lot of money. An employee viewing his email on a smartphone using a public Wi-Fi network, for example, could pose trouble for your company. A breach is considerably less likely to occur if everyone in your company follows the same security procedures. 

Increased customer trust and brand reputation

Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about cyber security threats. Businesses must respond by implementing solutions that prove their cyber resiliency. This will help them gain customer confidence as consumers grow more educated.

According to a Ponemon study, 65% of consumers indicated they lost faith in the company after being impacted by one or more breaches. These figure emphasizes how critical it is to have a robust security posture.

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Save time and money

It’s also a good idea to invest in cybersecurity training for your workforce. A single cyberattack in the United States may cost a firm $15.4 million. If it prevents a single attack, spending for quality cybersecurity awareness training is well worth it.

The same can be said about the amount of time spent. If an attack occurred, your team would devote a significant amount of time and effort to plugging the holes and repairing the damage. That time could be better spent on more important functions of the business. However, cybersecurity awareness training can prevent this hassle.

Cybersecurity breaches harm a company’s reputation and bottom line. Data breaches have become prohibitively expensive, particularly for small businesses. Increasing cyber security awareness within a company can save money on potential penalties and lawsuits associated with cyber crime.

Empowered workforce

An empowered employee is a productive employee. Many employees feel stressed by data breach news. If staff are constantly informed about the newest cyber risks and attacks, it might help alleviate anxiety induced by cybersecurity uncertainty. Employees who receive cybersecurity awareness training can feel more confident in fighting against cyber threats. 

You don’t want your workers to second-guess themselves. They’re less likely to open the suspicious message if they know what a phishing email looks like. Instead, they’ll toss it in the garbage. This self-assurance is crucial.

Employees will be less likely to commit the kind of human error that could lead to a deadly breach if they are empowered to act with confidence and awareness of the consequences. They’ll also be less likely to waste time discussing their decisions or waiting for IT to respond to a simple issue. They can deal with daily risks if they have the right cybersecurity awareness training.

Regulatory compliance

The number of compliance regulations that firms must follow continues to rise. Regulatory compliance is a must if your company handles personal, sensitive, or classified information. If you mishandle documents, it can have a negative impact on your company’s reputation and bottom line.

Employees will be more familiar with compliance standards if a cybersecurity awareness training program is implemented. It teaches them how to handle sensitive data and information, enhancing your company’s security and assisting your compliance efforts.

Our final thoughts. In a safe setting, Cyber security awareness training can increase efficiency and production in a safe environment. Small business owners should make sure their organization has a security plan in place.

Information technology evolves at a rapid pace. Emerging technologies come with emerging threats. As new technologies develop, so do new types of cyber attacks. To help protect against future attacks, you should consider providing an appropriate budget for your cybersecurity awareness training program.

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