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The Harrowing Consequences of Bad Security Training Practices

October 05, 2023

Are Bad Training Practices Haunting You?

It’s a horror story that haunts IT professionals and the companies that they secure. Under the droning, fluorescent lights of the average corporate workplace sits a hardworking employee, busily completing the tasks that occupy their average day. Although this employee appears to be conscientious, that’s just what you see on the surface. There’s another, darker side to the picture. In reality, this employee is the star of a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. But this is not a tale of potions and transformations. Instead, our story centers around employee errors in the realm of cybersecurity.

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Ignorance leads employees down a dark road

Dr. Jekyll is a model employee, cheerfully completing their tasks while going about their daily routine. But in the course of completing their tasks, sometimes the employee transforms into a dangerous Mr. Hyde who is heedless of smart security behavior. Mr. Hyde carelessly opens every email and clicks every link. Mr. Hyde doesn’t carefully check for phishing red flags. Instead, they enter their credentials into phony websites and thoughtlessly give up their personal information to the internet’s dark underbelly, placing their entire organization at risk.

Mr. Hyde isn’t just a bumbling employee; Mr. Hyde is an insider threat. An employee doesn’t have to have ill intentions to cause trouble. Bad actors are ready and waiting to take advantage of Mr. Hyde’s bad behavior to launch devastating cyberattacks that can financially damage a company, tarnish the business’s reputation and put its people out of their jobs. The average annual cost of an insider threat is over $16 million per organization. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, we don’t know what will. So what led to the creation of Mr. Hyde in this case? Inadequate and ineffective security awareness training.

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Zombified training practices are a killer

There’s nothing more dreadful than sitting in a classroom and being taught a subject that doesn’t pique your interest. Granted, everyone understands the importance of security, but they often underestimate how vital maintaining a healthy IT network is or that they may bear any responsibility for that at all. In fact, an estimated 45% of respondents in a HIPAA Journal survey said that they don’t need to worry about cybersecurity safeguards because they don’t work in the IT department. 

A big reason that employees don’t actively participate or pay attention during a security awareness training session is that the material or approach is about as lively as a flesh-eating zombie on a vegetarian diet. Typical training programs follow cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approaches to educating employees. The only way IT security professionals can overcome this challenge is by constantly updating their training material to stay ahead of the game.

But one size doesn’t actually fit all. Different employees have diverse skills and responsibilities in a company, so providing the same training to everyone isn’t ideal. It’s important to be conscientious of each individual’s unique capabilities and shortcomings. Organizations need to customize their security awareness training programs to address the unique threats their departments face and ensure their employees don’t accidentally dig their own graves or fall prey to booby traps.

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Beat cyber ghouls with hands-on training

Understanding the fundamentals of practicing good cyber hygiene is essential for building a strong security culture that reduces cyberattack risk. Security-related risks are reduced by 70% when businesses invest in cybersecurity awareness training. lessons alone aren’t quite enough to ward off the specter of employee mistakes. The absence of hands-on experience can leave employees dazed and confused when facing cyber threats. If Dr. Jekyll is shown what to look for to recognize a cyber threat and what to do about it, Mr. Hyde is far less likely to come to the surface.

Security training has many facets and they’re all equally important like recognizing the tricks that bad actors use to pull off cyber attacks like deploying ransomware. Just like the thrills and chills a person may experience at a haunted house, organizations can simulate real-world cyber threat scenarios. This practical experience bridges the gap between knowledge and competence, empowering employees with the necessary skills and techniques to identify and properly manage cybersecurity threats. 

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The frightening neglect of training comes back to haunt businesses

It’s alarming how many businesses don’t allocate financial resources toward updating their security training programs. Dr. Jekyll isn’t going to be able to stop becoming Mr. Hyde without training. Training also prevents companies from incurring the killer expenses that follow in the wake of a successful cyberattack or data breach. Those expenses are big contributors to the fact that 60% of companies go out of business within six months of falling victim to a cyberattack. Even in challenging economic times, engaging in regular cybersecurity awareness training is a smart business decision.

Why should businesses be terrified of training neglect?

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Simulations are the perfect investment to ward off trouble

Cybersecurity awareness training is the talisman that every employee needs to help them escape cybercriminal traps. With training, Dr.Jekyll learns to escape cybercriminal traps, and they just get better at it over time. Researchers in a UK phishing simulation study discovered that training including phishing simulations is the key to improving employee behavior around phishing threats. At the beginning of the study, 40 – 60% of the employees surveyed were likely to open malicious links or attachments. But after about 6 months of security awareness training, the percentage of employees who took the bait in every industry dropped 20 to 25% – and after 3 to 6 months of more security awareness training, the percentage of employees who opened phishing messages plummeted to only 10 to 18%.    

Training has an amazing ROI: 69% for small and midsize businesses (SMB, 50 to 999 employees) and a stunning 562% for large businesses (1,000+ employees). Unfortunately, organizations fail to ward off today’s nastiest cyberattacks by neglecting training about advanced threat scenarios — something that has increasingly plagued organizations due to the growing sophistication and adaptability of cybercriminals. With human error deemed the biggest vulnerability of 2023, security awareness training programs must be enhanced to ensure an organization’s skeletons stay in its closet.

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Lack of knowledge of sophisticated threats is deadly

Ignoring advanced threat scenarios is a grave mistake, akin to not heeding ancient curses in a horror movie. Employees need to be aware of sophisticated dangers in order to avoid them. Social engineering attacks and APTs are two of the deadliest specters that haunt the digital realm, and if employees are not properly prepared to handle them, companies risk disaster. Both of these unwanted entities lurk in places where employees may encounter them. They often go unnoticed until the time comes for them to carry out their malicious actions. These specters often manifest in two spine-chilling forms: 

  • Social engineering attacks prey on the psychological vulnerabilities of the human mind. Bad actors attempt to manipulate and trick individuals into revealing personally identifiable information (PII) or carrying out tasks that compromise an organization’s IT security. This kind of manipulation is often what drives an employee’s transformation into a dangerous Mr. Hyde. Cybercriminals use social engineering tactics to trick unsuspecting victims into carrying out their own agenda. Organizations that fail to train their workforce on this highly targeted form of cyber threat are only inviting trouble.
  • Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are defined by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as well-resourced adversaries engaged in sophisticated malicious cyber activity. These bad actors target and usually work toward prolonged network or system intrusion, hoping to launch cyberattacks that result in espionage, data theft and network or system disruption or destruction. Poltergeists like APTs are characterized by their persistence and stealth and may be state-sponsored. APTs typically engage in spear phishing, social engineering, zero-day vulnerabilities and targeted malware attacks. If employees are trained to recognize unusual network behavior, unexpected access requests or suspicious emails, avoiding an APT becomes much easier.

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Banish the curse of human error and ward off evil IT entities with BullPhish ID

BullPhish ID is the go-to security awareness training solution to keep cyber horrors at bay and ensure your employees don’t transform into Mr. Hyde.

BullPhish ID helps you:

  • Optimize training with new videos, quizzes and fresh phishing kits that are added every month to keep training up to date.
  • Satisfy requirements for cyber liability insurance purchase or renewal by having strong cybercrime protections — like a user security awareness training program — in place.
  • Automate training campaigns and reporting for effortless, set-it-and-forget-it training that gets results.
  • Train your way and on your schedule with plug-and-play phishing simulation kits and customizable content that can be tailored to fit your industry’s unique threats.
  • Access training in eight languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish (Iberian/European) and Spanish (Latin).
  • Make training easy and convenient for every employee with a personalized user portal.    
  • Automatically generate and send reports to stakeholders.

What are you waiting for? Book a demo today and take your anti-phishing defense to the next level with our efficient and affordable security awareness training solution.

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