Bridging Cybersecurity Talent Gap with Training, Certifications

The cybersecurity industry faces a talent gap that negatively impacts businesses’ ability to defend against cyber threats. According to ‘The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals 2021‘ survey, the heavier workload (62%), unfilled positions (38%), and worker burnout (38%) are contributing to the skill gap in the cybersecurity space. A large percentage of the respondents (95%) also believe that the skills gap has not improved in the past five years. Furthermore, other researchers also stated that the “global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145% to meet the demand for skilled cybersecurity talent.”

While many businesses are having difficulty finding the right talent, small and mid-size organizations are particularly in a worse situation, as they cannot afford the astonishing high salaries that qualified cybersecurity professionals’ command. The cybersecurity skill gap coincides with an ongoing escalation of cyber threats. According to the 2021 Cyber Resilient Organization Study, more than half of the study’s respondents reported having experienced a cybersecurity incidence in the past 12 months, with 67% reporting an increase in the volume and severity of the attacks in the same period.

COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation as cybersecurity measures of many organizations have been stretched to the limits by the pandemic’s induced digital transformation that includes remote or hybrid working and proliferation of personal endpoint devices. These transformations have also expanded corporate attack surfaces significantly, fueling the volume and intensity of cyber threats.

It is unsurprising that a recent study by Tenable, a Cyber Exposure company, revealed that 74% of organizations attribute recent cyber-attacks to remote and hybrid working. This claim is backed by a recent study by the international law firm Reed Smith that established that online scams have increased by nearly 400% during this period compared to pre-pandemic. Google also revealed that it was blocking around 18 million COVID-19-related malware and phishing emails at the height of the pandemic.

Importance of Cybersecurity Training for Employees

Some organizations are attempting to address their cybersecurity skills gap by conducting cybersecurity training for their employees. This is an essential strategy since employees are the best defense against cyber-attacks. Security researchers opine that individual behavior plays a massive role in cyber threats. Threat actors take advantage of the internet users’ willingness to trust specific requests and execute those requests thoughtlessly.

The human factor is believed to be the main factor in virtually all cyber-attacks. Proofpoint’s 2021 Human Factor report highlights how cybercriminals target people located deep within the organization, rather than the organization’s systems or network infrastructure, to install malware, disclose login credentials, allow remote connections, and many more.

According to the report, threat actors target Very Attacked People (VAP) targets of opportunity. These may include high-level accounting employees who may not have account privileges but have financial information. These users are easy to target since their personal information such as email and phone addresses are easily searchable.

So, how do organizations reduce this human-based liability? Organizations generally rely on their cybersecurity team to protect and secure their network infrastructure, but as noted, employees present the greatest vulnerability to cyber threats. Therefore, training employees on cybersecurity basics is vital, as the risks of clicking or downloading unknown email attachments or the best practices of securely handling login credentials.

Essentially, the best form of cybersecurity training programs for employees focuses on raising awareness of potential cyber threats. And since cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving area, training programs need to be up to date, which means continuously reviewing and updating training materials. Creating such a security-aware culture helps you and your employees deal with existing and emerging cyber threats.

5 Reasons Why Employees Require Cybersecurity Training

To Safely and Securely Work from Home

Remote and hybrid working means employees access corporate information using their own devices and private networks. Personal devices and private networks are particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks because they lack adequate and up-to-date security features and tools. Organizations can help their employees limit or address these vulnerabilities through cybersecurity training. For instance, employees can be trained to install or regularly update their devices’ security features.

To Upgrade Information Security Policies

Most organizations have information security policies in place, such as unauthorized access to sensitive systems or information, which helps to address potential security incidents. Cybersecurity training programs shed light on these policies and ensure employees understand various security issues and deal with them. On a broader scale, the training ensures that employees have adequate knowledge and necessary skills to address security incidents at the root level before they escalate.

To Address Issues with Human Factor

95% of cyber-attacks are facilitated by employees within an organization unwittingly; this is according to IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index. And no amount of advanced firewalls or intrusion detection systems can address the issue of human factors. But a cybersecurity training program can help raise awareness and knowledge towards being more gullible to social engineering attacks.

To Mitigate Risks Associated With Cyber Attacks

Risks associated with cyber-attacks have increased significantly in recent years. Today, successful cyber-attacks are causing significant damage to many organizations. The damages range from legal liabilities, financial loss to a tainted reputation in the public’s eyes. But with a comprehensive cybersecurity program for employees, most of this damage can be avoided. In addition, when employees are provided with the best security awareness training, they are more likely to spot and contain potential threats before they become major security incidences.

Some Compliance Requirements Are Centered On Employee Training

Essential compliance requirements such as HIPAA and PCI-DSS emphasize employee training because they understand that employees play a significant role in cybersecurity.

Training Employees about Cybersecurity: Tips

Types of Training Programs

Although many companies offer cybersecurity training programs, several types of cybersecurity training are worth introducing to your employees. Most of these programs focus on simulated attacks, creating awareness of existing and emerging cyber threats, and detailed reporting of security incidents. The following list of training programs can help you foster a cybersecurity culture in your workplace. Cybersecurity is an evolving issue, and therefore these training programs will require frequent reviewing and updating.

Basic Cybersecurity Training Programs

Basic cybersecurity training programs focus on raising and maintaining employee awareness of existing and emerging cyber threats. This program teaches employees how different cyber threats manifest themselves, the dangers posed by such threats, and the different techniques and tools used by malicious actors to carry out attacks.

Basic cybersecurity training programs cover email and password security training, internet security training, information sharing procedures, anti-social engineering basic training, and other basic security training. Common cybercrimes such as viruses and malware, spoofing and phishing, identity theft, among others, are covered under this type of cybersecurity training program.

Organizations can pay for their employees to take the basic cybersecurity training programs. However, if an organization is on a tight budget, employees can take advantage of various free cybersecurity training programs offered by the government through the government cybersecurity course platform.

Specialized Cybersecurity Training Programs

While the basic cybersecurity training program focuses mainly on preventive measures, specialized training goes well beyond this scope as it provides employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to contain potential threats. Employees, active users of systems, are the first to contact cyber threats. Therefore, a specialized cybersecurity training program allows them to detect and contain such threats at the root level before they escalate and cause further damage.

Specialized cybersecurity training programs aim to build a deeper understanding of cybersecurity among your employees while giving them the necessary knowledge and skills to manage cyber threats. Such training programs cover red and blue team assessment training for cybersecurity employees and DevOps and network security training for both IT and network administrators. After specialized cybersecurity training, candidates are often issued certificates to demonstrate their success.

There are several cybersecurity certifications that employees can acquire. these certifications include

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • GIAC Security Essentials
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Comp TIA Security+
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Compliance Security Training

Data privacy is a crucial element in this digital era. Governments worldwide enact policies and regulations to protect their citizens’ digital data. For example, the EU GDPR in Europe and the US Privacy Act of 1974 are stringent compliance requirements and impose hefty penalties on organizations that violate those requirements. An organization’s compliance with these regulations comes down to how its employees handle customer information in its possession.

Even Though various organizations prefer to outsource compliance experts, it’s important to have in-house compliance experts to guide through crises. NIST emphasizes the need for “personnel and partners are provided cybersecurity awareness education and are trained to perform their cybersecurity-related duties and responsibilities consistent with related policies, procedures, and agreements.”

Organizations, therefore, need to train their employees on the need to be fully aware of the compliance regulations of the countries they operate in. They also need to be aware of and careful about what information they collect and how they store and use such information. This kind of training ensures that employees do not mishandle or misuse customer data.

Tips and Best Practices

Instill a Cybersecurity Awareness Culture into Your Workforce

Establish cybersecurity policies and best practices and encourage your employees to follow them; you can also reward them for their efforts. Secondly, document every cyber threat you experience and how you responded. Learn from these experiences, especially from your mistakes. Thirdly, establish an incentive program for your cybersecurity team and reward them for every vulnerability they identify and for threats they detect and contain. Finally, regularly talk about cybersecurity with your employees by holding regular seminars or in-house messaging.

Lead by Example

An organization’s cybersecurity policies and initiatives are of no use as long as management does not adhere to them. Leadership leads by example by conforming to such guidelines and sharing responsibility. The same goes for consequences; everyone in the organization, irrespective of position, should face the same consequences in case of a policy violation. Finally, leading by example would inject a cybersecurity awareness culture into your workforce, thereby ensuring that you and your employees are ready to deal with potential threats that hit your network.

Use Virus and Firewall Protection

Remote and hybrid working means some employees work from their own devices and private networks outside the corporate network. Unfortunately, they are not protected by corporate firewalls and threat detection systems, which means they are more vulnerable to cyber threats. As an organization, one way of protecting yourself and your remote working employees is to train them to use anti-virus and firewall features built or installed into their devices. For instance, the latest Windows operating systems have the latest security features that protect against malware and phishing sites.

Use Secure VPNs As Well As Software to Monitor and Protect Endpoints

As discussed before, remote and hybrid working environments expand an organization’s attack surface since they involve personal devices and private networks. Organizations seeking to manage such a raised attack surface should put more resources into deploying secure VPNs and training their remote working employees on how to use these networks. Additionally, these organizations should deploy monitoring software to monitor and protect end devices and networks. They should also conduct regular specialized training for their cybersecurity teams that utilize such tools.

Protect From Phishing and Social Engineering

With human factors being the primary factor in cyber threats, cybersecurity training programs should include a course in which employees are educated on the dangers of malign activities such as phishing and social engineering and how to avoid them. For example, such courses would train employees to recognize email messages with questionable senders, links, or attachments. Also, organizations should invest in Artificial intelligence-powered software. This software will help detect phishing and socially engineered attacks through machine learning.

Adopt Strong Password Security

Some cybercrimes such as phishing and social engineering are aimed at personal harvesting information of employees that could be used to predict their login credentials like usernames and passwords. To avoid being a victim of such malicious activities, employees should be trained on the importance of password security and how to achieve it. This would include using a combination of random numbers and texts for passwords or using different passwords for different accounts.

Apart from employing strong passwords, organizations should use policies that ensure employees change their passwords periodically. Changing passwords regularly ensures that previously acquired credentials cannot execute a cyberattack. Employees should also use credible password managers to help them manage passwords.

Adopt a Zero-Trust Policy towards Digital Assets

A zero-trust policy is a cybersecurity principle that follows ‘never trust, always verify.’ Organizations should encourage and train their employees never to trust shared files, connections, or network devices until they (employees) verify for themselves. The zero-trust policy ensures that every digital asset, either internal or external, is treated with suspicion until proven to be harmless.

Cybersecurity Awareness Training Alone Isn’t Sufficient.

Training employees alone won’t be sufficient; organizations must take extra measures to combat cyber threats and keep their IT infrastructure running, including investing in MDR service and other solutions. Here are two other tips to combat cyber threats:

Develop Cybersecurity Expertise – Both Internally and Externally

All organizations, particularly small and mid-size, struggle to build their capacity to detect and contain cyber threats. This is mainly due to the costs involved in assembling the latest and most comprehensive cybersecurity tools. But even if an organization has adequate resources to set up a cybersecurity unit, staffing is a major issue. As we already stated, the cybersecurity industry is currently experiencing a huge skill gap. Nevertheless, organizations should still strive to build their in-house expertise because they will give you long-term value.

Although, some organizations can outsource their managed cybersecurity services in order to focus fully on their other operations. The advantage of working with managed cybersecurity service providers is that they use cutting-edge tools and techniques to provide 24/7 monitoring, detection, and response services against existing and emerging cyber threats.

Create a Cybersecurity Policy

Having cybersecurity skills today is more critical than ever. With the intensity, volume, and sophistication of cyber threats increasingly rapidly, it is paramount that all organizations, irrespective of size or industry, ensure that all their employees understand existing and emerging threats and ways to combat them.

A cybersecurity policy should be a living document that provides stipulations for transferring or modifying company information, accessing company systems, and using company-issued devices. A cybersecurity policy should be regularly updated to reflect evolving threats and cybersecurity needs due to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Essentially, a cybersecurity policy would include guidelines on device and data protection. Device protection would consist of up-to-date operating systems, security features, and multi-factor authentication. Data protection would consist of guidelines on handling various types of data, particularly private and confidential data.

Your cybersecurity policies should be regularly reviewed and readily available to all your employees to ensure that everyone understands and abides by them.

Final Words… Conclusion

Cybersecurity researchers opine that the industry is currently grappling with a skills gap, noting that the “global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145% to meet the demand for skilled cybersecurity talent.” As sophisticated cyber threats intensify, organizations must bridge the cybersecurity talent gap to stay ahead.

One way of bridging the talent gap is by training employees on security issues such as device and data protection. By training employees to identify and contain potential threats at the root level before they spread, organizations would mitigate risks associated with the attacks.

Investing in external cybersecurity experts is another way of bridging the talent gap in the cybersecurity industry. Cybersecurity managed service providers provide the necessary skills and personnel to monitor, detect, and manage cyber threats.

At SISA, we have placed cybersecurity training at the heart of our organization. In addition, we have developed custom services to help organizations secure their resources against cybersecurity attacks.

CPISI – PCI DSS Training and Implementation program – This program helps to educate participants on the policies and PCI implementation procedures. The workshop helps bridge the gap and help organizations implement standard PCI security controls and facilitate PCI DSS compliance.

CPISI 2.0 Advanced Payment Data Security Workshop – This program equips cybersecurity personnel with the appropriate skills to assess and secure payment gateways. The course further helps organizations implement a coordinated approach to existing and emerging payment security regulations.

CIDR – A comprehensive Threat Hunting and Incident Response Security Training – This program focuses on equipping participants with threat hunting and incident response skills with payment forensics knowledge as the kernel.

Other training programs that can help your organization include CPISI-D – Secure Application Development Training and CPISI Hybrid – PCI Online Training.

You can contact us today and learn how our services can help your employees build cyber solid security personnel.

SISA’s Latest
close slider