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Why security awareness training is important (plus 3 tips)

Wondering why security awareness training is important for creating a secure culture? Get the answers along with 3 tips to protect your firm.

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Last Updated June 12, 2024

Category Cybersecurity

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The tight labor market makes recruiting and retaining talent difficult—especially in the accounting and finance profession. The employees you do hire become valued, trusted members of your team, so it can be unsettling to think that they’re one of your biggest security risks when it comes to data breaches.  

No matter how knowledgeable or well-intentioned your staff may be, it’s critical to understand just how big of a security risk this group represents. According to an EisnerAmper survey recently referenced in Accounting Today, 71% of companies are worried that their employees could trigger a cyber incident, even though they simultaneously believe only 23% of employees would maliciously harm their IT systems 

Add to this the fact that email is the most common threat vector and the risk becomes clearer. Consider that it takes just one team member clicking one malicious phishing link to open your entire network up to data loss—and by default, reputational damage.  

Why security awareness training is important to accounting firm security…plus 3 tips  

So, what can you do to make sure employees don’t unintentionally become the source of a data breach? The ideal approach involves a combination of technology and the right training solution to create a sound security culture. 

Consider each of the following proven and tested tips to accomplish this: 

1. Implement a year-round training approach

Implementing security awareness training is the single most important action to take to keep your employees security-informed and mitigate the risk of data breaches. 

  • Pushing out regularly scheduled, year-round training is crucial to keep staff current and hypersensitive to ever-evolving scams. One-time annual training or training delivered during initial employee onboarding just doesn’t cut it anymore. 
  • Consider making monthly training (and refresher courses) a business requirement.  
  • Be sure to choose security awareness curriculums that are consistently updated, making sure that lessons align with current threats likely to impact employees.
  • Offer lessons that promote high engagement and are provided in digestible, bite-sized nuggets. Employees are more likely to retain key takeaways and complete courses that are thoughtfully created and require a 5-minute (on average) time commitment. 

2. Provide targeted phishing simulations

Your approach to security awareness training should include a frequent push of real-world phishing simulations. These should align with your business and/or specific employee roles.  

If you have bookkeeping staff, it’s important to understand the level of risk facing this particular group. Bookkeepers often receive emails claiming to be from large accounting and tax software providers such as Intuit. These emails will be convincing, sophisticated and micro-targeted. 

Regular phishing simulations ensure that employees recognize even the smallest red flags within emails. This helps staff stay alert to scams and identify malicious links or emails they should not respond to.  

Although some employees may be good at spotting scammer emails, regular practice is still critical to a sound security culture. A momentary lapse in judgment can lead to a malicious link being clicked and a disastrous breach.  

3. Evaluate your technology stack

The right technology stack can prevent phishing, spoofing and other varieties of scam emails before they reach your employees’ inboxes. Evaluate fully managed email solutions that provide peace of mind via ongoing email monitoring. Mitigating the number of employee encounters with malicious emails further lowers the risk of a data breach.  

Next, implement a second security gate with monitoring and remediation. Monitoring and remediation blocks threats if an employee accidently clicks a link or introduces a virus. 

Consider a provider that uses a combination of technologies—including antivirus and endpoint detection and response (EDR)—to identify threats. The best providers will respond quickly to incidents and work to mitigate data loss or other damage.  

Make your employees your first line of defense with a security awareness training program 

There are numerous opportunities to prevent cyberattacks—including implementing the right technology and security awareness solutions. The goal is to put barriers in place at every potential opening.  

Make your employees the first line of defense against data and reputation loss by prioritizing ongoing training. This will empower your team to be good security stewards and promote a strong security culture across departments and roles. 

Learn more about a total layered security solution that includes security awareness training.

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