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How Security Awareness Training Combats Cyber Attacks

How Security Awareness Training Combats Cyber Attacks

Though cybersecurity remains a strong part of any reputable financial institutions' culture, studies show there’s ample room for growth in awareness of and protection from cyber attacks.

Banks and other financial groups face an average of 85 cyber attack attempts per day, according to research firm Accenture.

One way organizations are protecting themselves is to develop internal measures for security that includes security awareness training. Results of solid security awareness efforts include:

  • Enhanced understanding of potential threats and how they may impact the organization,

  • Closely followed protocols and best practices for preventing and reporting attempts, and 

  • Safe management of a financial institution’s resources.

Many firms believe focusing on using human intervention as the first line of defense against cyber attacks puts them ahead of criminals attempting to breach their networks.

Ways Cybercriminals Manipulate Trust to Initiate Breaches

Ways Cybercriminals Manipulate Trust to Initiate Breaches           

Security awareness training is most effective when attackers use social engineering (gaining trust to access sensitive data) to initiate data breaches. Financial institutions can be vulnerable to cyber attacks that target a person neglecting to protect access to sensitive information.

Here are a few examples of social engineering and how they affect financial institutions:

  • Pretexting: A cybercriminal calls an employee, impersonating a technician from your software provider, and asks for access credentials to fix an issue. Not only are this employee’s passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, and more could be compromised but the criminals can also gain access to your network and get their fingers on critical data.
  • Tailgating: This happens when a criminal seeks to physically follow an employee into a restricted area, using the employee’s security clearance to gain access.
  • Phishing: Bad actors send out emails from a plausible-looking “from” addresses with malicious links or attachments that would either open a backdoor for hackers to get into your system or install ransomware that will lock up all your data until you pay the hacker.
  • Whaling: This occurs when a criminal impersonates a high-level executive and sends an email asking another senior executive to transfer money into an account. This kind of attack has cost corporations $2.3 billion dollars in three years’ time, according to the FBI.
These fraudulent practices are particularly damaging when they’re aimed at busy, high-level staff members who have privileged  access to sensitive customer or member data within your organization.

Best Practices in Training Your Staff to Keep Data Safe

Best Practices in Training Your Staff to Keep Data Safe

As you train your staff and executives in what to watch for and what to do to avoid cyberattacks, you’re really creating a shield around your organization that makes it difficult for hackers to penetrate. As you develop your training efforts, consider the following:

Provide Continuous Education and Training

It’s important to make regular reminders as phishing attacks remain a popular and effective way to breach even the most protected networks. Simply being mindful of the risk associated with clicking a malicious link can be enough to bring the issue to the forefront so workers will think twice before clicking.

Help your team understand the high cost and irreparable damages associated with a security breach so they’d take the necessary actions to protect your sensitive data.

In addition, IT security training should be a standard piece in your new-hire onboarding process so they’re aware of the risks from day one.

Show Consistent Vigilance in Managing Passwords

Make sure your staff follows password policy best practices when they set up their login credentials.

A secure password is particularly important for employees and executives who have admin privileges and therefore access to sensitive information.

Consider implementing multi-factor authentication. Besides password, users will need another form of authentication, such as a time-sensitive code sent via SMS, to log into the system.

Set Personal Device Security Policies

“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is becoming a common practice in the workplace. For financial institutions, even if you don’t have a formal BYOD policy, it may be possible that employees are accessing company data via their own desktop or mobile devices.

It’s important to set a BYOD security policy and ensure that all employees understand and follow the guidelines.

Next Steps in Security Awareness Training

You may have implemented all or just some of the suggestions listed above. As you roll out your security awareness training program, remember you’re not alone. The pressure to keep the networks of financial institutions secure becomes more and more difficult each day. To remain ahead of aggressive attackers, consider using a social engineering service to root out and document potential areas of weakness so you can plug the holes in your IT security.

Here at Datacomm, we have helped numerous financial institutions identify areas that need improvement, document compliance shortfalls, and assist them in developing security awareness training to fix the issues.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Financial institutions remain an attractive target for cybercriminals.  Learn how to keep your customer data safe.   

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