Whether you own a small business or work for a large multinational corporation, the threats to your data have never been greater. Hardly a week goes by without news of yet another data breach, and the results of these unauthorized disclosures can be truly devastating.

Hackers and other bad actors have gotten smarter and more sophisticated over the years, largely abandoning the old tactics and looking for new and more effective ways to capture login IDs, passwords and other personal information.

These days, the weak link in the security chain is not the firewall in the server room but the worker in the cubicle. Hackers and computer criminals are targeting the human element like never before.

From Phishing to Spearphishing

From traditional phishing attacks, which cast a wide net in hopes of catching a few low-level fish, to the new wave of spearphishing attempts, which target the whales in the form of CEOs and other denizens of the corner office, these threats are not going away.

The prevalence of these threats and their increasing sophistication presents some real challenges for business owners and IT staff, but it also provides some real opportunities. With the right training and a proactive approach, businesses can transform the human element from a weak link to the first line of defense. 

Start the Training from Day One

There is a lot to do during the onboarding process, from reading the employee manual and signing up for the company 401(k) plan to figuring out where the bathrooms are and when the daily lunch break is.

Given the nature of the onboarding process, it is easy for important things like threat training to get pushed to the back burner. But if you are leaving this type of training for later, you could be putting your entire enterprise at risk. 

Hackers and ransomware writers often target new hires, counting on their relative inexperience and naiveté to get them through. That is why training about ongoing threats should start from day one. There is no time to waste, and the sooner you start the process the safer you will be.

Run Sophisticated Simulations

It is not always easy to recognize a security threat or spot a fake email. Even the most experienced have been taken in, and that includes CEOs, COOs and even those in the IT field.

If you want to turn the workers in your company from security risks to the first line of defense, you need to run sophisticated simulations as part of your ongoing training program. These simulations may include sending out fake emails to see who responds and who reports the potential threat. The results of these sophisticated simulations can then be used as part of the training process, and every test you run will make your employees that much more informed and aware.

Provide Real-World Examples

Running tests and simulations is important, but so is providing your staff with real-world examples. Unfortunately, these real-world examples are not difficult to find – a simple scan of the news should be enough to uncover the latest data breaches and phishing attempts.

Sharing real-world examples with your staff will help them spot the mistakes others have made, so they can avoid those blunders going forward. When looking for examples, seek out several different kinds of scenarios, from spearphishing attacks targeting top leadership to traditional hacking and ransomware attacks that target the entire company.

Protecting the human element will always be a challenge for business owners, and the threats are only growing greater and more sophisticated. As the hackers get better at what they do, businesses will need to ramp up their defenses even more, and that includes turning what would otherwise be the weak link into the strongest line of defense.

Port53 and KnowBe4

At Port53 we firmly believe that it is just as important to build a culture around cyber awareness, as it is to build a robust security control stack. We have partnered with KnowBe4, the world’s largest integrated platform for awareness training combined with simulated phishing attacks.

KnowBe4 enables your employees to make smarter security decisions, every day. Employees are the weakest link, hackers know this and are exploiting it on a daily basis. Enable your customers to create a “Human Firewall” to manage the continuing problem of social engineering.

If you don’t have a phishing or training simulation in your current environment, reach out for a demo!