The Human Factor: How Employee Training and Awareness Can Help Prevent Data Breaches

All businesses want to trust their employees, and most people would never knowingly put the business they work for at risk. The real truth is that human error is responsible for the vast majority of company data breaches. We are all aware of cyberattacks, but most of us also think we are too smart to fall for a scam. Continual follow-up on employee awareness and highlighting that scams are becoming more sophisticated has proven to lessen the instance of employee errors. It’s important to periodically provide employees with information on how to spot and react to a scam. As a business owner, it is well worth the effort to try and avoid a data breach.

multiracial men and women employees sitting in conference room smiling with laptops in front of them

Types of Data Breaches

Data breaches are more prevalent than most employers realize, and the impact can be severe. For every large company who makes the news, there are many smaller companies who have fallen victim to cyberthreats that no one is talking about. There are several types of data breaches that can put your company and your clients at risk. The most common are:

  • Malware and ransomware – employees can be tricked into opening malware files or links through seemingly innocent emails.
  • Phishing attacks – employees can be taken in by cyber criminals and tricked into providing information or access to confidential data.
  • Social Engineering – a cyber attack where an unauthorized person manipulates an employee to gain access to confidential data.
  • Physical Security Breaches – improper data destruction can ultimately leave sensitive information at risk.

Importance of Employee Training and Awareness

You can invest in software and implement guidelines, but the safety of your business really comes down to your employees. Employees are your first line of defense, and the more they understand their role in keeping data secure, the better they will be. Employee training and awareness can help your team with identifying and reporting suspicious activity, proper handling of sensitive information, and understanding the impact of data breaches. Employees should not simply be given the guidelines for data security, but the information on why and how those guidelines were developed and how they can do their part. Consistent training in new strategies by cybercriminals can help employees filter out potential phishing scams and stay vigilant.

Strategies for Employee Training and Awareness

Providing a memo once in a while isn’t enough. For your business to be secure, your employees need regular security awareness training. This can include simulated phishing attacks to show employees how easy it can be to fall for a scam, password management training to demonstrate the importance of a strong password, and incident response plan training, where employees learn how to immediately react if they feel they have been the victim of a cyberattack or potential data breach.

Benefits of Employee Training and Awareness

There are significant benefits to investing in employee training and awareness. Some include the reduced risk of data breaches, improved incident reports in case of an issue, improved employee morale, and, most importantly, compliance with regulations and industry standards. When you put the time and effort into keeping your employees informed, they won’t put their guard down as easily.

A data breach can be costly. Your business and reputation will take a serious hit if you fall victim to cybercrime. Business owners who take cybersecurity seriously and demonstrate how to handle and recognize potential scams to their employees are less likely to experience a data breach caused by human error. As your reliable, trusted data security provider, AccuShred can also help you assess your current cyber security measures. A self-assessment with CSR Readiness Pro can help reduce the risk and impact of a data breach and keep your company data secure. Contact us today to learn more.