What is cyber security awareness and why is it important?

In an era of rampant cybercrime, a little vigilance goes a long way.

Recent reports show an increasing prioritisation of cyber security among Australian businesses, with 8 in 10 large companies now increasing their spending on such initiatives. With remote working on the rise – leaving plenty of workers vulnerable to often lacking, small-scale security measures – the need to strengthen security awareness among the general workforce has grown ever-more critical.

We explore the importance of cyber security awareness below, its benefits to you’re your business and its workers; and how AIICT’s training opportunities can help.

What is cyber security awareness?

Cyber Security AwarenessCyber security awareness involves both the knowledge of best cyber security practices and, in turn, applying effective protective strategies. It refers to being mindful of your day-to-day online activities, ensuring you’re wary of common threats and the best ways of avoiding them. This also includes having a sound understanding of the impact digital attacks can have on one’s private information, company reputation, and customer base.

In any business, it pays to nurture a culture of cyber security awareness – one where every employee does their bit to stay updated on the latest cybercrime tactics and methods of protection. This can often be achieved through professional training and regular testing of employee knowledge; as well as cultivating a cybersecurity-first mindset, regardless of one’s role.

The importance of cyber security awareness

Cybercrime tactics are growing more sophisticated

With digital crimes rising at an exponential rate (increasing by nearly 13% in the 2020-21 financial year), such awareness practices have proven more crucial than ever. Along with growing criminal trends, the tactics employed are often getting more sophisticated – finding ways of circumventing once-effective protective measures.

According to recent statistics, at least 560,000 instances of new malware are created and detected per day, employing various types of attack methods including phishing emails, infected applications, and malicious website scripts. Ransomware has also become an increasingly popular tactic, allowing criminals to steal data from large businesses and demand millions of dollars in ransom for its return.

Alongside your IT staff, ensuring a company culture of cyber security awareness equips general workers with the knowledge to identify and manage new, potential threats as they come.

Strong cybersecurity starts with your staff

Human error accounts for 95% of cyber security breaches, according to research by IBM. This means, if eliminated entirely, 19 out of 20 digital breaches may not occur at all. Additionally, the cost of a breach caused by human error was loosely estimated to have totaled an average cost of a whopping $4.63 million in 2021.

Establishing strong, protective data measures thus begins with training your staff and encouraging a culture of cyber security awareness. As mentioned, criminal attacks are only growing more advanced each day – with social engineering as a commonly used tactic. An approach relying heavily on human error, criminals who use this method manipulate their targets into willingly handing over private information. This is often achieved through baiting tactics, scareware (or tricking users into believing their system is infected, encouraging them download the perpetrator’s malware for “protection”) or through simple, cleverly crafted lies.

By ensuring your staff is well-versed in the latest cybercrimes, they’ll be well able to pinpoint and avoid these scams in the future.

Boost employee morale and company reputation

Educate your staff about cyber securityArmed with better knowledge and day-to-day practices, workers who are cyber security-aware can rest easy in their daily tasks – confident that they’re able to identify and avoid potential online dangers. Keeping themselves free of the guilt or embarrassment that comes with accidentally causing a breach, employees are more likely to experience higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement.

On top of this, you’ll also help keep your company reputation clean. Businesses who fall victim to cybercrimes are not only hit with the loss of information and productivity – but long-term profits as well, as clients are likely to lose their trust in your brand.

In a 2018 survey of 10,000 consumers by Gemalto, 70% admitted to jumping ship from a business should it experience a data breach (as reported by Security Brief Australia). The impact is enough to cost an average business millions of dollars each year, with some small companies closing up shop altogether.

Cultivating an active security culture in your workplace can thus keep both your employees and customers happy, helping you maintain their trust in your company’s security measures.

Improve productivity while minimising damage costs

Finally, nurturing cyber security awareness in the workplace helps boost productivity and business outcomes, while minimising the costs associated with cybercrime damage.

Such costs not only include the aforementioned loss of customers, but also crippled business performance as a result of greater downtime. The time, effort, and tools required to recover from a data breach can also stunt your company growth in the long run, or even cease business altogether. Even “smaller-scale” breaches that don’t necessarily lead to long-term damage will require extra time from your workers (or IT specialists) to manage; time that could’ve easily gone to more valuable, meaningful tasks.

Prioritising a thorough knowledge of security in your workplace can therefore lead to better performance, productivity, and in turn – greater profits.

How do I improve my cyber security awareness?

Improving cyber security awareness in your business is often commonly done through proper role-based training. This equips your workers with the skills, knowledge, and practices to help them stay safe online, while ensuring the level of information is appropriate to their role. Non-technical staff, for example, may only require basic training in the subject – while more in-depth, complex training may be necessary for your more technical teams (i.e. your IT department).

Testing your employees on the regular, such as through internal audits, penetration tests, and phishing simulations, can help you ensure your workers are up-to-date and prepared for the latest digital threats. As the cyber crime landscape continues to evolve; further, continuous training opportunities may be needed to keep your workers informed.

Enrolling in a cyber security training program

Cyber Security CoursesWhether to boost your skills or that of your employees – The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT) currently offers online courses in cyber security training.

Get certified under CompTIA in the basics of online security through our Certified Cyber Security Professional program, a 6-month course that explores the fundamentals of networking, penetration testing, threat identification, and technical support. Those seeking a more advanced skillset can pursue our 18-month ICT50220 – Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security), where students will delve into the more technical areas of network security, security architecture, ICT project management, and promoting cyber security awareness in the workplace.

Those interested can simply submit an enquiry form on their chosen course. An advisor will then get in touch to discuss the details of the program, after which you’ll be asked to complete the student application process – involving both a pre-enrolment profile and a capability quiz. Once your documentation is submitted and finalised, you may then attend our online orientation to help you get settled in your course.

Best of all, both programs are delivered completely online – helping you and your workers train at a time, pace, and place of their choosing.

Protect your company data by building a stronger security culture today, and enquire with us on a course.