Cyber-attacks are a simply a part of reality now, and are very much like home burglaries. We can install locks and lights, cameras and alarm systems, and despite our best efforts at protection and prevention, a certain number of robberies are still bound to happen. That is the reason we need to steel ourselves to this fact and prepare ourselves to resist cyber-attacks the best way that we can. And the Big Three; incident detection, incident response and user security education and awareness are some of our best tools for meeting this problem.
The importance of user education and awareness to information security cannot be over emphasized. Of all the firewalls, IPS systems and other security sensors available, none can compare to human beings in their ability to detect cyber-attacks and security risks. But to take advantage of this resource, it is necessary that users know how to recognize security problems and it is necessary that they want to be engaged in the security process. To accomplish this, companies need to do several things.
First, they should provide all of their personnel with information security training both as new hires, and then periodically thereafter. This training should include the company information security policies that apply to all, plus information security training that is specific to each user’s particular role in the organization. Providing extra information security training for individuals such as code developers, system administrators and help desk personnel is particularly beneficial.
Next, it is also very important to provide all company personnel with information security awareness reminders. These serve two purposes. First, they help keep the need for good security practices fresh in users’ minds. But more importantly than that, good security awareness tips let your personnel know exactly what kind of attacks are out there and how they take place. That’s why it is important to base your awareness reminders on cutting-edge, real-world information security threats. For example, perhaps your employees gets a perfectly legitimate-looking email message from one of their co-workers that solicit them to check out a certain website and give an opinion on it. So they innocently click on the embedded link and wham! Suddenly their machines have been infected with malware and they don’t have a clue that anything is wrong. Awareness reminders can help keep such things from happening.
On top of good information security training and awareness, we think that there is one more element that is needed to really make the process pay off. It is important to engage the interest of your employees and make them feel that they are an essential part of the information security effort. This
isn’t really hard or expensive to do either. Explain their importance in the program to your personnel and ask for their help. Most everyone really likes to help out, and it makes them feel good inside. In addition, recognize those that have contributed to the information security cause and give them some kind of reward. This can be as simple as a little praise at the weekly staff meeting, or can include things like days off or preferred parking spaces. It doesn’t have to be big, just visible. One thing is sure, it makes better business sense to utilize this free and effective security resource to the hilt than spend a million dollars on a vaunted new IDS/IPS system!
This post by John Davis.