How to Strengthen Cybersecurity Skills as a Team?
Cybercrime is growing steadily, and most C-level executives finally agree it's among the most immediate threats to their businesses. The need for cybersecurity professionals keeps pace. Sadly, the market still does not. Attracting top new talent is a sound investment. But you can also do much by upskilling the teams you already have.
This article highlights the procedures and practices leaders should use to boost their team's cybersecurity competencies.
Collective Cybersecurity Knowledge Assessment
Before creating any comprehensive training program, you must take stock of your team's cybersecurity literacy. A group of IT professionals might at least know all the basics. Members or even entire teams from other departments may be unprepared.
For example, a salesforce team might not follow best practices when handling Personally Identifiable Information. Working from home is another ballooning cybersecurity hazard. Employees might be making it worse by not using a company-wide VPN when connecting to the company's servers through unsecured networks.
Phishing and social engineering, in general, might sound trivial to IT pros. However, they remain the most successful means of obtaining unauthorized access and causing millions in damages through data breaches.
Do all your team members know how to recognize a phishing scam? Do they use password managers and two-factor authentication to strengthen password security? Or do they still write passwords on Post-It notes and make minimal changes between logins? The assessment will help uncover critical vulnerabilities and help you create a training strategy to address them quicker and more efficiently.
Cybersecurity Training Fundamentals
Once the assessment is over, you should start thinking about the type and scope of training your team would benefit from the most.
If the team's general cybersecurity knowledge is low, it's best to start with awareness training. Doing so will introduce them to core threats like malware, phishing, ransomware, and social engineering. People in non-technical roles may not even be aware such dangers exist.
Teaching them how to recognize and avoid suspicious emails, use unique passwords, and stay away from suspect websites will improve your company’s cybersecurity foundations. In addition, you can implement a company-wide password manager to enhance team collaboration and understanding of threats.
This way, everyone will reevaluate cybersecurity as vital to their responsibilities. Most importantly, cultivating cybersecurity awareness primes your team for more advanced forms of training.
When you’re satisfied that everyone is up to speed on the basics, it’s time to see how they can put their knowledge to use. People can only absorb so much in a classroom environment. Gamification helps with retention, but simulating a real threat is even better!
Simulating a cyberattack creates a safe environment that gives insights into how people will perform under pressure. Setting up a fake phishing email or social engineering attempt is straightforward. Even so, it can expose remaining knowledge gaps.
Conducting such testing in conditions that mimic the team's working environment is important. That means creating plausible scenarios and using tools they work with daily. Regularly completing such simulations will give the team more confidence. It also helps them commit the exact procedures they must carry out to develop (muscle) memory.
Compliance and Specialized Training
Part of creating a thriving cybersecurity culture is maintaining an up-to-date training regimen. Malware releases by the thousands daily, and hackers' methods are constantly evolving. This is due to accelerate as AI gains a prominent role in creating and suppressing new threats.
One way to ensure you’re keeping up is to comply with general guidelines and industry standards. Suppose your team works with personal medical or banking information. In that case, it needs to do so to maintain compliance with regulations like the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), Electronic Funds Transfer Act, or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
Guidelines also pertain to general cybersecurity standards. Bodies like the National Institute of Science & Technology or COPA regularly update their guidelines, seeking to establish current and robust cybersecurity practices.
Establishing a cybersecurity baseline shouldn't prevent you from investing in specialized training for the entire team or gifted individuals. It can tackle subjects like network and operating system security or even ethical hacking. The more diverse your team's skill set, the easier it will be to identify, contain, and neutralize threats.
Data-Driven Monitoring & Assessments
Data generation should be an integral part of your team’s cybersecurity development. Quantifying training sessions and real-world experience serve several beneficial purposes.
It can help identify pain points or individuals who need additional training for the lessons to sink in. Monitoring may also expose flaws in the training procedures. This may lead to the development of more effective measures and on-the-fly adjustments that suit your organization better.
Data is no less important for appraising company leadership. It's easier to justify the need for continued investment in cybersecurity if you can back it up with figures that prove increased vigilance's long-term money-saving potential.
It’s easy for employees to fall into the trap of treating cybersecurity as yet another item to cross off the corporate checklist. They’ll be much more inclined to take a genuine interest if team leaders follow by example and provide growth opportunities.
Always encourage individuals' desire for further education and opportunities to further their careers. Gaining technical know-how is easier than developing the drive to do so and keep advancing. Identifying and supporting such individuals will bring new insights and make the team more competent. More importantly, it will contribute to creating the next generation of cybersecurity leaders.
On the other hand, you should encourage the team to collaborate amongst themselves and with other teams. Knowledge-sharing sessions and joint exercises will bring everyone up to speed while making early identification and communication of a threat through the proper channels more likely.
Maintaining a high level of cybersecurity is a team effort. By investing in your team's continued education and improved competencies, you're setting your department and your entire company up to avoid cyberattacks in the first place and deal with them more swiftly if they do happen.
About the Author
Darius Galanis is a passionate about the digital world and loves sharing his knowledge and experience with others.