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Why cybersecurity education matters

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/igor.stevanovic)

Research shows cyber incidents have increased significantly since 2017 and according to a recent Cybersecurity Breaches Survey, nearly half of all UK businesses reported cyberattacks or security breaches in the last 12 months alone.

The most common cybersecurity threats have included scammers impersonating another business, sending fraudulent emails containing viruses and implanting malware.

Not only can cybersecurity breaches result in lost files, software or website corruption, but they can also result in a loss of assets and intellectual property, hitting businesses of any size hard.

These statistics are concerning but it’s evident that businesses are now doing more to prevent falling victim to cyberattacks.

The shortage of qualified cybersecurity personnel is visibly apparent with the number of unfilled cybersecurity roles on the rise. The demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals will continue to exceed available resources with the prediction of 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2021. 

Cybersecurity expert Melanie Jones from Global Knowledge discusses the importance of upskilling employees, the benefits of cybersecurity training and why it’s imperative for the security and success of your business.

Investment is key

Recent figures suggest cybercrime is costing UK businesses an estimated £21 billion per year. Yet despite having ample opportunity to bolster cybersecurity policies, research has shown that only 42 per cent of FSIs feel their organisation is “extremely effective” or “very effective” in managing cyber exposures.

Those organisations who are looking for long-term solutions in their fight against cyber incidents may find funding cybersecurity training and employing specialist staff a more cost-effective option.

Ongoing cybersecurity training is beneficial to the business as a whole and not just the IT department. This is because even with the greatest people and technology in place, the weakest link in your organisation, when it comes to security, is often your own employees.

For example; BYOD, along with the Internet of Things, can leave your network vulnerable because people in your company are using devices and connections that are not under your security posture.

This vanishing perimeter is just one of the reasons why there should be an even greater emphasis on proper employee cyber hygiene, a good cyber awareness training programme should be made available to everyone within the organisation regardless of their level or role.

When employees feel empowered through training, to act with confidence and are fully aware of any risks, they’ll be less likely to make these kinds of human errors that could cause a devastating breach.

They will also be less likely to spend time questioning their actions or asking IT about a simple task, which is fairly simple to resolve. Armed with the correct knowledge, staff can confidently tackle daily threats and occurrences themselves.

This will also free up your IT department, so they are able to deal with more complex tasks and more serious potential breaches.

A positive workforce

According to Deloitte, while many companies may have enough funding for cybersecurity support, they often complain about the lack of “triple threats”.

These are individuals with the right combination of technical skills, business know-how and strategic thinking capabilities to implement cyber risk management initiatives quickly and effectively.

Those who’ve invested in the right training to meet these needs could find their skillsets very much in demand and skilled candidates will be in a better position to negotiate salaries, benefits and perks such as remote working.

Not only this, but cybersecurity can lead to higher salaries and offers a broad range of exciting career progression opportunities for professionals with varying backgrounds. For example, the average salary of a cybersecurity professional has risen by 16  per cent in 2018 to £72,500, with senior appointments reaching close to £200,000.

Entry level IT roles can lead the way into more cybersecurity-focused career paths such as becoming security architects, penetration testers, CISOs or security managers.

Training courses can also be personally very rewarding for employees. Many of our students report dealing with a security issue only weeks after completing a course. In fact, 94  per cent of our students said they used their new skills within four weeks of completing training, which demonstrates the instant rewards experienced when using learned skills in a short time frame.

Back to the future

The number of attacks and their complexity is only expected to increase, which will, in turn, cause the demand for trained staff to rise.

Proactively investing in ongoing cybersecurity training will future-proof your business as attackers employ increasingly sophisticated techniques such as social engineering. For example, spam and email phishing rates decreased last year while manually shared social media scams increased by 80  per cent.

According to Bo Yuan, PhD - professor of computing security at Rochester Institute of Technology – the average data breach is projected to reach a $150 million price tag, which does not include any corresponding customer and employee trust-related outcomes.

Cybersecurity training is not only a plus for your staff, but also for improving future and ongoing business relationships.

In fact, a survey of 2,000 respondents showed around 87  per cent were hesitant to patron a business that experienced a data breach in which credit or debit card information was compromised. An attack could seriously damage a company’s credibility and also risk partnerships with third parties.

Showing you are doing everything you can to future-proof your business, will have a positive impact on current business relationships and show you take your responsibilities towards customers – both old and new - seriously.

The right solution?

The benefits far outweigh the losses when it comes to cybersecurity training.

Ensure your workforce is well equipped with the knowledge to keep your organisation safe. All businesses, no matter what their size, need to know everyone in the company is up to date on the latest cyber security threats, understand what’s at stake and follow best-practice.

Whether you employ a permanent cybersecurity team to meet your needs or provide regular training for all staff (or of course, both), use a specific framework to work towards your key goals.

This will help you to achieve and uphold the highest standards, reducing the risk of a data breach, empowering employees and maintaining customer trust.

Melanie Jones, Global Knowledge
Image source: Shutterstock/igor.stevanovic