How to Incorporate Security Awareness Into Your Onboarding Process

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Cybersecurity needs to be embedded into the fabric of your organization. Most data breaches happen because of an employee’s failure to recognize a potential threat, usually a phishing attack. Phishing and other threats pose a serious risk to your company. The best approach is ensuring security awareness training is integral to your onboarding and ongoing training processes.

Define Your Cybersecurity Processes

It’s important not to get ahead of yourself with cybersecurity training. You can’t teach people what to do if you don’t have clearly defined cybersecurity processes. For example, if an employee spots a suspicious email, what’s the company protocol? Do they simply delete it? Do they need to inform someone? If so, who do they need to contact? Consider the most common cyber security threats and make sure you have a response plan for all of them.

Protecting your company from cyber threats is very similar to protecting it from physical ones. You likely have a fire escape plan and may even run drills occasionally. The same must happen with your cyber security training. If you’re unsure where to begin, consider asking cybersecurity service providers to help you draft a set of protocols for various situations. Please write down your security processes and publish them somewhere where your employees can easily find them.

Limit the Scope of Your Security Awareness Training

One of the biggest mistakes companies make with security awareness training is getting too technical with everyone. Most of your employees won’t have advanced technological knowledge. If you don’t present relevant and easy-to-understand information, they’ll tune out, and your training won’t produce meaningful results. The key is to limit the scope of your training to what specific positions need to know. Save the most technical details for your IT staff’s breakroom conversation.

However, limiting the scope of your training does not mean you can ignore vulnerabilities. Remove as much human error from the equation as possible. For example, you can use 24/7 monitoring software to keep an eye on your files or automate file management on your systems instead of creating complex protocols for employees. Remember, onboarding takes time. You want your new hires to be ready for action. The less they have to learn, the faster they can get to work.

Combine General Talks With Personalized Instruction

A good approach is to blend general talks that apply to all your new hires with personal instruction from a member of your IT department. Keep your general discussions short, as nobody wants to sit through hours of IT security training. Focus on specific actions and rules. Easy-to-remember instructions will be much more effective than long theoretical discussions about cyber security risks. New hires just want to know what they must do, so keep it simple.

Have a member of your IT department reach out to new hires and introduce themselves. Not only does this help new hires feel welcome, but it also helps them know who to talk to if they spot a security risk. With one or two personalized meetings, you can explain the specific risks and relevant actions for that new employee’s position. Making the instruction personal and precise makes it much more likely to stick.

Put Your Employees to the Test

Onboarding is the perfect time to run some cyber security drills for your entire company. Remember, onboarding usually dumps a lot of information on new hires. The only way they’ll remember what you’ve tried to teach is if they have a chance to put the lessons into practice. But don’t limit your drills to new hires; involve everyone in the company. A phishing scam test is a great way to remind everyone how important cyber security is.

Your IT department, or your IT managed services provider, can send out an email from a similar domain that feels real but is actually a trap. You’ll find out who identifies the threat and who doesn’t very quickly, and you can respond later with additional training for those who need it—doing this while onboarding can boost your new hires’ confidence. They’ll likely pass the test, while many of your staff will slip up.

Reward and Recognize

Remember that effective cybersecurity training does not punish people for failure. If you have employees who fall victim to your fake phishing email, don’t reprimand them. Punishing employees who make mistakes will likely lead to them trying to hide other incidents in the future. They could keep a secret that could cost your company millions. Look to your own processes to see how you can prevent these errors. 

Conversely, use positive reinforcement wherever possible. If a particular employee consistently passes your tests, give them a bonus! If someone reports a threat, show them appreciation and recognition. Doing this while onboarding will provide new employees a much better impression of the company culture and solidify their decision to join your team. People may even start to look forward to security awareness training!

Don’t Stop After Onboarding

Security training should not end after onboarding. Don’t assume that just because you’ve trained your employees once, they’ll remember everything forever. Furthermore, technology advances rapidly. Your systems will likely evolve over the next few years, necessitating new protocols and training refreshers. Likewise, cyber threats are also going to take new forms and exploit new weaknesses. Cybersecurity training is an ongoing process that never ends. Make it a point to schedule regular sessions throughout the year.

Get Professional Assistance

If your IT staff cannot keep up with their everyday tasks, asking them to devise a security training process for onboarding might not be possible. If your team needs a helping hand with their cybersecurity training, reach out to experts who understand today’s cyber risks.

At Edafio, we help companies defend against the worst so they can work at their best. Contact Edafio Technology Partners to learn more about our security training and managed IT services. 

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