What exactly is security awareness?

What exactly is security awareness blog image

CybSafe

We are CybSafe. We’re a British cyber security and data analytics company.

September 21, 2021

Did you know that most cyber breaches occur due to human error? That’s because most people aren’t aware of the cyber security threats that put themselves and their organisations at risk!

Without basic security awareness, we’re more likely to click on phishing links or download suspicious files. If organisations fall victim to cyber breaches, the consequences are even more devastating. It can lead to the loss of sensitive data, hefty fines and even reputational damage! There’s so much at stake, so we must shore up our defences. 

It starts with people; they are the first line of defence. We need to understand the nature of online threats and encourage healthier cyber risk behaviours. Such efforts fall under the area of “security awareness”. That’s what this blog is all about.

What is security awareness?

Security awareness is a term that has garnered a lot of attention.

In practice, security awareness is an activity employed by IT departments. It’s a way for organisations to have a better understanding of human cyber risk and prevent cyber incidents. 

The aim of a security awareness initiative is to show people that they are part of the solution. It helps organisations educate people about a wide range of cyber risks, how to spot them and what they should do next.  

Ultimately, an effective security awareness strategy will make people aware of their behaviours. They understand the behaviours that increase cyber risk and the healthier habits they can adopt to reduce this. So people will be one step ahead of criminals and contribute to a safer organisation. 

Why is security awareness important?

More people working remotely and using technology in their day-to-day roles. As a result, cyber security incidents have skyrocketed over the past year. UK-based businesses can expect to lose an estimated $3.88 million when they become the target of a cyber breach.  

To protect against rising cyber attacks and avoid losing millions, businesses must take steps to increase security awareness across their teams. 

People need to understand cyber security threats and how to mitigate them. Otherwise, they’ll continue to practice poor cyber hygiene. This leaves their organisation vulnerable to devastating cyber incidents.

Protecting organisations from cyber attacks and breaches is only one of the benefits. There are many other reasons why security awareness initiatives are important.

  1. They enable businesses to create a security culture where good cyber hygiene is built into an organisation. 
  2. They ensure infrastructure is robust, and improve customer trust. 
  3. They follow industry regulations and compliances, protect employees and boost their wellbeing.

How can organisations deliver security awareness?

Security awareness has an important role to play in modern organisations, and it offers a range of benefits. So how can organisations create and deliver an effective security awareness strategy?

Firstly, organisations should steer clear of tick-box security awareness exercises.

The best security awareness content is short, engaging, and covers a range of topics. It can be accessed anywhere and at any time via a mobile app or web browser.

Setting behavioural goals ensures security awareness content is tailored to the individual. It allows them to identify and mitigate cyber risks specific to their role or industry. Organisations can take into consideration varying personal preferences, learning styles and job roles. All by adopting different delivery methods. 

Proving that these initiatives are working and generating a return on investment is key. Organisations can do this by using the power of data, metrics and reporting. 

With these tools at hand, security teams can gain valuable insights. They can understand their organisation’s human cyber risk and mitigate vulnerabilities before they result in a serious cyber incident and ultimately improve security decision making.

The importance of security ABC 

Security awareness alone isn’t enough. To lower human cyber risk, we must also encourage people to make behavioural changes. This is what creates a strong security culture. 

Traditional tick-box exercises might raise security awareness. But they fall short of promoting the behavioural and cultural elements of cybersecurity. That’s where new approaches can help. 

One of the best ways to boost security ABC (awareness, behaviour and culture) is by combining insights from behavioural science with data analytics and machine learning.

Businesses then have an up-to-date picture of where they stand. Crucially, they can use this information to predict and influence human cyber security risk.

 

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