Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees [FREE]


Cybersecurity Awareness training for employees is extremely essential as cybersecurity threats in the last five years have been unprecedented.Online Scams, Phishing, disruptive malware, data breaches against critical infrastructure and data deployment harvesting malware like Remote Access Trojan, information stealers, spyware and banking Trojans by cyberattackers is on the rise to attack networks, steal confidential information, and divert money.

Several corporations have been severely affected by the attacks of cybercriminals and hackers. A cyberattack could start as a simple phishing email that could capture your employees Phishing attempts can lead to compromised credentials, and lead to Personal, financial and health information being breached which in turn can be sold and used for marketing, fraud and identity theft.

 Additionally, Social engineering attempts remain some of the hardest to protect against, as an employee could become vulnerable to them in a careless moment. Moreover, large companies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to malware, ransomware, and hacking which result in severe losses due to data breach. A major data breach can have a range of devastating consequences for any business through the loss of critical data, such as theft of source files or intellectual property, all of which can cost a company its competitive advantage.

In Verizons Data Breach Report (DBIR) seen by industry as the bible for security analysis, some of the major findings ware:

· Financial gain is behind 71% of data breaches.

· External forces cause almost 80% of data breaches.

· These external forces use employees (manipulating their behaviour) to enact their cybercrime goals – phishing and stolen credentials being the main methods.

In other words, human factor is the major contributor to cyber-attacks. This is the crux of Employee cyber security training – Modifying behaviour and making employees aware of how cybercrimes work. Cyber security training of employees is a vital aspect of corporate cyber security strategy going into the 2020’s.

Traditional cybersecurity was focused in the implementation of defensive measures only in a defined perimeter. Recent enablement initiatives due to the Pandemic like remote work and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have dissolved the perimeter, and expanded the attack surface for cyber criminals.

All these rapid changes and cyber threats underline the importance of cybersecurity training for employees – yes, all employees. Fundamental Knowledge of cybersecurity and information technology is extremely crucial because it’s the basis for preventing a cyber breach or attack. Employees should be educated and trained on cybersecurity aspects because a security threat cannot be prevented or reported if it is not recognized! This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised that the most common threat occurs due to human error and is the primary reason cyber training exists.

Why is cybersecurity awareness training for employees important?

The evolving digitalisation of information and data storage does not meet additional employee training and employees are not aware of how to avoid simple data leaks that could have catastrophic consequences. But the real question is, are cyber criminals getting smarter or are we not keeping ourselves educated?

An effective way for business directors and managers to tackle cyber threats is to create a threat-aware environment that begins with cybersecurity awareness. The importance of educating your employees about cybersecurity cannot be underestimated. If your employees are not aquainted, you don’t have a viable defence. 

Cybersecurity awareness training program educates employees about vulnerabilities and threats to business operations. Moreover, your employees need to be aware of their responsibilities and accountabilities when using a computer on a business network .

For instance, the 2019 State of IT Security Survey discovered that email security and employee training were one of the top problems encountered by IT professionals. However, more than 30% of employees surveyed by Wombat Security Technologies didn’t even know what phishing or malware was. According to Infosec Institute, 50% of internet users receive at least one phishing email daily, however 97% of users cannot identify a phishing email and 4% of people click the email.

The dangers posed by not acquainting your employees extends beyond defence. A similar situation arose with the Wyze Labs data breach in December 2019. Here, a mistake by an employee while using the company’s database exposed the personal information of nearly 2.4 million users, including protected health information and their email addresses. In many cases such as this the data is accessible in the cloud without appropriate security protections from human error.

But as humans, employees make mistakes, they are trusting fake identities, tempted by clickbait, and vulnerable to other malicious strategies used by cyber criminals to gain access to company information. Hence employees need proper cybersecurity training to protect themselves and the company from cyber-attacks.

What is Cyber Security Awareness Training for Employees?

One of the most efficient and effective cybersecurity strategies is to train and educate your employees on how to identify suspicious emails, potential phishing scam, or even a ransomware attack and use good cyberhygiene practices at work.

A robust cyber security awareness training program must at least include the following elements:

· Content – educating your team on cyber attacks

· Phishing tests – running and testing email simulations to see how many employees would click or report a suspicious and strange emails

· Password management – ensuirng your employees know how to protect their passwords using a password manager and not to use passwords that are easy for someone to guess

· Malware Identification -Employee security awareness training on malware should cover common delivery methods, threats and impacts to the organization.

Because of the evolving digital environment and vulnerabilities, cybersecurity awareness training program also cannot only include a single approach or a “set it and forget it” program. Rather, in order to ensure the network security of any organization, cybersecurity training to employees must be repetitive, updated and constantly tested.

Different kinds of Cybercrimes:

 An employee training program can use a modern LMS to explain clearly the various kinds of cybercrimes and about how fraudsters operate and what to look out for. Choose a security awareness program that is designed to be interesting and fun. Avoid the boring workshop-based training and instead opt for scenario-based security awareness training.

Use Gamification and encourage participation in this crucial training. By using interactive training videos on cybersecurity, the employees can be taught to identify spam content that could be hiding malicious software. Moreover, it is important to explain that spam is not only found in emails, but can also find its way through social media messages and invites, also. For instance, a LinkedIn ‘invitation to connect’ can be carrying a virus.

Phishing or Email scams:

Phishing is getting a tons of attention today, yet how to prevent it is not getting attention. Numerous CISOs and IT teams are treating the potential phishing problem like any other technology equation. It is not.

 A phishing scam begins with the hacker targeting one or more employees. The hacker will send untrustworthy and suspicious emails, making use of strong and appealing language like “urgent” or “action required” to convince your employee to take action before thinking. These tactics work very well to convince someone to give up proprietary information, or their work account credentials. The Marriott data breach that influenced approximately 500 million people started with just a few employees becoming compromised via email.

 Security awareness and phishing prevention training go hand-in-hand. We have to teach both current and new employees on how to identify and defend themselves against cyber attacks and hackers. However, phishing simulation tests are best ways to test employees on their real-world ability to discover a cyberattack. By providing scenarios of real phishing scams these simulation tests can help employees understand what a falsified email might look like, from who it might come from, and the kind of information these emails might ask for. Usually, phishing emails request usernames, passwords, personal information or financial information that allow criminals to access company programs or steal money.

 Constant communication helps in cyber awareness education, such as reiterating ‘see something, say something’ to alert management if someone receives a suspicious email. It has to be remembered that Prevention of fraud starts at the frontlines, which is most often an employee’s email inbox.

Additionally, for leaders in the C-suite have to take ownership of their security awareness training program because of a data breach, guess who will be held responsible. Executive leadership, Information Technology, and even HR teams need to work together for implementing a cybersecurity awareness training program for the whole company.?

Malware & Ransomware:

An important training module to be included are cyber security tips for employees who probably be tricked and deceived into downloading a malware. Malware is a virus or other software that attacks and damages the functionality of a device. A device infected with malware could be used by cyberattackers for numerous purposes. These include stealing confidential data, using the computer to carry out other criminal acts, or causing damage to critical corporate data.

Ransomware is a malware that encrypts a user or organizations data and results in the company becoming unable to access files, databases or applications. In addition, a Ransomware leverages a company’s website or other platforms to extort money from a third party. Both are major threats to any organization.

Malware can be delivered to an organization in numerous ways like phishing emails, malicious removable media or downloads. Important tips that can be included in training employees against Malware are:

· Be suspicious of files in emails, or websites

· Do not install unauthorized software into companies’ system.

· Keep your antivirus software running and updated

· Contact IT/security professionals if you may have a malware infection

Social Engineering and cyber awareness:

Finally, social engineering should be another mandatory topic in online security awareness training for employees’ Social engineers conceal themselves with fake but trusted online identities, and then trick your employees into handing over critical and proprietary company information that they shouldn’t Once a social engineer has a trusted employees password he can simply log into the company facility and access data, steal assets or even harm people. Most social engineering attacks have in common is that they use human psychology to their advantage, preying on our greed, fear and curiosity to help others.

The importance of password security

Cybercriminals strive to infiltrate corporate networks and weak passwords are a way in. Today, employees need passwords for unlocking their devices, for logging into their accounts, and for every work-related application. Most employees set a generic passwords that can easily be hacked. This is why online cybersecurity awareness training program should teach best practices for password creation and protection.

  • Explain that passwords are the initial line of protection to keep sensitive information safe and secure from hackers. Eventually, show your employees how to set strong passwords having combination of letters, numbers, symbols, or special characters.
  • Utilize a password manager to create, manage, and store strong passwords for all accounts
  • Incorporate multi-factor authentication (MFA) to reduce the impact of a compromised password

Additionally, as a corporate best practice password should be reset every 90 days. Moreover, all SaaS products used by your company should have a facility for password resets and must support two-factor authentication.

Removable media

Removable media (like USBs, CDs) are useful tools for cyberattackers since they enable malware to bypass an organization’s network-based security defences. Malware can easily be installed on the removable media and structured to execute automatically with an Autorun or have an appealing filename to deceive staff into clicking. Malicious media can steal information, install ransomware or even destroy the computer they’re inserted into.

These removable media can be distributed by being dropped in parking lots and common areas or being handed out to employees during conferences or other public events. Ensure your employees are properly trained to manage suspicious removable media.

· Never plug suspicious removable media like USBs, CDs into a computer

· Bring all untrusted and suspicious removable media to IT/security for scanning

· Disable autorun on all company’s devices

Email, internet, and social media policies

The social media habits of employees can leave a company easily vulnerable to malicious software, these malware or virus attacks an organizations applications and social accounts, steals critical information, and possibly even will extort money. So, it’s essential that cybersecurity training for employees in your company includes protocols and guidelines for using email, internet, and social media.

All company cybersecurity policies on the use of email and social media should clearly define the links that are safe and can be clicked, and those that shouldn’t. For instance, suspicious links from unknown people or organizations, links contained in unknown emails, and links that have been flagged as untrustworthy and suspicious by your antivirus software, should not be clicked.

 Moreover, there should be clear rules for internet browsing and social media usage by employees on company’s devices, and for using company email addresses.

Cyber Security training programs should encompass secure internet habits that avoid cybercriminals from invading into your digital workplace. Include some essential content in cybersecurity training program like :

· The ability to recognize untrustworthy, spoofed and simulated domains (like yahooo.com inplace of yahoo.com)

· The differences between HTTPS and HTTP and how to discover an unsafe connection

· The risks of installing suspicious softwares or applications from the internet

· The dangers of entering login credentials into untrusted or risky websites.

The protection of company data

Every company has its own cybersecurity policies on the protection of information, and ensure all employees are aware of these policies, and trained to understand them.

Most organizations gather, store and process a great deal of confidential information. This incorprates cunsumer data, employee information, business strategies and other important business data . If any of this information is publicly exposed or is accessible to your competitor or cyberattacker, then the organization may face significant statulatory penalties, damage to business reputation, consumer relationships and a loss of competitive advantage.

Employees within an organization need to be compulsorily acquainted and trained on managing the businesses’ confidential data to safeguard data security and customer privacy. Information security training for new staff should explain the regulatory and legal obligations of data protection. Additionally, offer regular and mandatory refresher courses so that all employees are up to date on the rules and policies around data protection, and the changes to cyber security policies.

How to identify and report cybersecurity threats?

Ensure your employees pay attention to cyberattacks. Every gadget they use, email they accept, and application they open can carry malware, virus, phishing scam or data breach. The primary idea behind cybersecurity awareness training for employees is to change their behaviours, and create a sense of accountability, so that the enterprise is secure from any type of cyberattack.

First, incorprate a cybersecurity awareness training program for your employees to make them aware of unexplained and suspicious errors, spam content, and legitimate antivirus warnings.

Secondly, educate the employees on the process they should follow to report these red flags, as well as the right people to inform about suspicions of a cyber attack. Companies can use an internal warning system like message boards to report and share security information such as scams.

Thirdly, make online cybersecurity training mandatory for new employees. By beginning at the onboarding stage, you’ll show employees that the company gives great importance to cybersecurity and as a result, new recruits will understand the importance of careful online behavior from their very first day of work.

Finally, by incorporating cybersecurity policies and rules about data protection and internet usage into the employee handbook can also help, companies take a step in the right direction.


Employees are the primary and first target for cyberattacks, however, they’re also your first line of defense. And for keeping your defense strong, you’ll need to make cybersecurity a crucial element of your workplace. When it comes to online cybersecurity awareness training for employees, ensure to deliver it frequently with unlimited opportunities for practicing secure online behaviors. Continuous cybersecurity employee training will encourage you to incorporate policy changes and information about the latest scams into your training content. Just like rapidly changing technology, cybersecurity is also increasingly evolving, and staying updated could be the difference between keeping your company safe or vulnerable.

An untrained and negligent employees can put your business in danger of multiple phishing scams or data breaches. However, the chances are that it could have been prevented if one employee, on one computer, had known what to find.

Like it or not, end users or employees play a significant role in the war against cybercrime. When phishing attacks slip through network perimeters, employees become a critical line of defense. Should I click this link or not, download the attachment, respond to this request for confidential data? Cybersecurity awareness training provides your employees an opportunity to be present in those moments. Effective education and cyber awareness skills can guide them to make the right choices.

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