Creating Secure Company Culture and Preventing Human Error: Why Security Awareness Training Isn't Enough


Building a secure company culture includes both increasing employee awareness of potential threats and actively taking steps to combat them before they occur with strong cybersecurity solutions. Although companies that value security often prioritize teaching their employees about how to recognize and manage threats, this is not enough on its own because modern security threats have grown increasingly sophisticated in recent years. The strongest security cultures both raise awareness of potential threats and actively take steps to keep them from happening in the first place. Here is an overview of the importance of creating a secure company culture, as well as helpful tips for increasing the security of your company.

Phishing Attack Sophistication

Email phishing attacks are quickly becoming more sophisticated, and becoming increasingly difficult to recognize. Although many phishing scams follow one of a handful of recognizable patterns that are becoming easier to spot, some attackers are also coming up with new methods for fooling companies. As one example, phishing scams that include multiple steps, such as a fake CAPTCHA page, look more convincing and are often capable of blocking security programs. In this type of scam, entering the CAPTCHA code is a well-disguised method of disabling the user's email security system. Fortunately, many security programs are also adapting to meet the new needs of this constantly-changing type of cyberattack.

Connections Between Human Error and Security Issues

Although it may seem as though security issues are only the fault of employees or only the fault of an ineffective security system, the truth is that businesses of all sizes have some element of both that contributes to security problems.

Your firewall, data loss prevention solution or other cybersecurity system can go a long way toward blocking security issues from reaching your accounts or computer in the first place. On the other hand, the attacks that make it through generally require a person to click on a dangerous link, unintentionally give out confidential information to the wrong person, or otherwise make an error in order to successfully compromise your device or access your company's data.

Because email attacks are growing increasingly sophisticated, it's not enough to rely on security training alone to prevent them. Besides this, security awareness training may not be remembered in detail for very long after the meeting, course or other training. To reduce human error as much as possible, it's important to do all you can to have systems in place to prevent malware or phishing from making it into the user's inbox in the first place. Creating a company culture requires vigilance with security threats by the use of multiple safeguards. In addition to security awareness training, it's important to implement strong cybersecurity solutions that reduce human error as much as possible, and reduce the complexity of these solutions for employees.

Connections Between Ransomware and Email

Your company's email system plays a vital role in keeping your employees connected with one another and with your customers, and keeping it as secure as possible is a must. Although scammers can use a variety of methods to attack your company, email is one of the most common sources of phishing and other types of ransomware attacks. These attackers send emails containing dangerous links, often while pretending to be a legitimate company, which are designed to gain unauthorized access to your company's financial data, medical records, insurance details, or other sensitive personal information.

Ransomware emails are a growing problem for companies of all sizes and the reality is that approximately 85 percent of data breaches involve a human element of some sort. That's why it's important to tackle this issue from multiple angles. It's recommended that you deploy an email threat protection solution that quarantines potential threat emails and "disarms" links to reduce the chance of an employee accidentally clicking on something dangerous. If you do not have this is place, you are then relying solely on your employees to prevent your network from threat actors. If you have this in place already, it's still important to train your employees to recognize the signs of the different types of phishing attacks in case your solution does not successfully block an attempt.

Steps to Protect Your Data

Taking steps to a vigilant cybersecurity culture is a must to secure your data in the modern world. Here are three steps to implement that can take your tech and data security to the next level.

Train Your Staff to Recognize Potential Security Threats

Although recent data breaches and other security issues have shown that training your staff properly is no longer enough on its own and needs to be supplemented with other solutions, it is still an important step in building a vigilant security company culture. There are several steps you can take to keep your staff alert to potential new threats. It's important to hold regular security awareness training sessions. You can decide what cadence is best for your business. Many small to midsize businesses typically hold a security awareness training once a year, but enterprises may decide it's important to do so multiple times per year (perhaps once per quarter). For those departments more vulnerable to security risks, such as accounting, finance, and engineering, it's a good idea for management to seeking out reading materials or breach examples that highlight the latest risks and information to protect company data and avoid cybersecurity threats.

Increase Accountability

Making sure your company's leadership and employees know exactly what they are supposed to do to protect against potential security threats is a must. However, awareness should also involve a level of accountability to foster a truly strong security culture. 

Employees are more likely to make mistakes if they are not clear on what they are supposed to be doing (like dealing with complex security tools) or if they forget any element of their training. Some employees may also intentionally cut corners if they know there is little to no accountability within the company (such as downloading shadow IT solutions if they're faster, or bypass your security systems).

If you have not already done so, now is the time to implement accountability standards to ensure everyone at your company understands the importance of working securely at all times. Simply knowing what potential threats exist and what should be done to prevent them is not enough...making sure your employees are actively doing their part is essential.  

Invest in Data Loss Prevention and Email Security Software

It is best practice to go beyond security awareness training to protect your data. A secure cloud is an important step in helping both large and small companies protect their data from a wide variety of potential threats, although it still needs to be monitored regularly to make sure it is doing its job. An email security filtering solution like Email Threat Protection includes, link disarming and a quarantine to prevent network infiltration via email. This would help prevent an email from entering a user's inbox if it's found to be a potential threat. Email Encryption is also an important tool because it helps with email data loss prevention, and also includes a quarantine feature to prevent sensitive data from leaving your employee inboxes. Implementing solutions like these is a simple step you can take to add an extra layer of security to any large or small company.

At Zix, we are here to help businesses of any size find and implement new methods of dealing with potential cybersecurity threats. Although the sophistication of these threats is higher than ever in 2021, striving to build a secure company culture that values actively taking steps to prevent cybersecurity problems before they occur can go a long way toward keeping your company's confidential data out of the wrong hands. Contact us today to learn more about our cybersecurity programs that are available to your business or to get started!