DEFENSESTORM BLOG

Redefining Cybersecurity Part 5: Cyber Risk Awareness

Friday, August 25th, 2023

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The previous posts in this series have covered topics like shifting from cybersecurity to proactive cyber risk management, reinforcing cyber risk readiness, bridging communication gaps, and harnessing the power of a buyer’s guide to build a robust cyber risk management solution. While these are integral to designing an efficient cyber risk management program, the final and crucial piece of the puzzle is cyber risk awareness. If your employees lack awareness of the constantly evolving threats to your financial institution (FI), they become a significant liability to your security, despite your adherence to the latest recommendations and employment of state-of-the-art technology.

In our previous blogs for Redefining Cybersecurity, we explored a variety of important aspects of improving and strengthening cybersecurity solutions. The series delved into shifting from cybersecurity to proactive cyber risk management, reinforcing cyber risk readiness, bridging communication gaps, and harnessing the power of a buyer’s guide to build a robust cyber risk management solution. While these are integral to designing an efficient cyber risk management program, the final and crucial piece of the puzzle is cyber risk awareness. If your employees lack awareness of the constantly evolving threats to your financial institution (FI), they become a significant liability to your security, despite your adherence to the latest recommendations and employment of state-of-the-art technology.

Security Today reports: “A joint study by Stanford University Professor Jeff Hancock and security firm Tessian has found that a whopping 88 percent of data breach incidents are caused by employee mistakes. Similar research by IBM Security puts the number at 95 percent.” FIs are always a prime target for cybercriminals due to the sensitive data and valuable assets they protect, so employees at all levels must be trained and educated to prevent costly mistakes. The consequences of a breach aren’t just monetary; cyberattacks erode trust, damage reputations, and disrupt business operations.

The Importance of a Cybersecurity Aware Culture

  • Protecting Assets and Reputation: For any business, a single breach can result in significant financial loss, not to mention the potential damage to the organization’s reputation. The financial sector is an especially sensitive industry to reputational damage because people expect that their trusted FI is effectively protecting their money and data.
  • Regulatory Compliance: FIs bear the responsibility of safeguarding customer data and assets while being held to a higher standard to prove it. Failure to maintain the security of your FI’s systems and infrastructure can lead to hefty fines and other consequences.
  • Empowering Individuals: Cybersecurity isn’t just about organizations. Educated individuals are better equipped to protect their personal data, financial assets, and digital identity. An informed workforce can act as the first line of defense.

Strategies for Strengthening Cyber Risk Awareness

FIs must provide ongoing security training for employees. Training should not be a one-time event but rather an ongoing initiative. By implementing training from the start – during onboarding – and diligently maintaining continuous education, your FI sets the tone as to the importance of security awareness. The benefits of regularly educating and training employees:

  • Evolving Threats: The cyber landscape is dynamic, and with new threats emerging every day, continuous training ensures that employees stay updated about the latest threats, prevention skills, and mitigation strategies.
  • Reinforcement: Like any skill, if cybersecurity best practices aren’t regularly reinforced, they can be forgotten. Regular training sessions help embed these practices as second nature to avoid falling victim and how to react if they do.
  • Adapting to Technological Changes: As FIs adopt new technologies, there’s a need to understand the associated security implications. Continuous training helps bridge this gap so your employees are abreast of new risks and vulnerabilities associated with innovation and are better prepared to support the integration.

FIs are encouraged to seek assistance from an external organization to support ongoing education. DefenseStorm partners with KnowBe4 to provide internal training for our own employees and add-ons to our services to keep your FI threat ready and informed. KnowBe4 conducts mock phishing campaigns or simulated cyberattacks that can help gauge employee readiness and identify areas for improvement. DefenseStorm and KnowBe4 also offer educational webinars for professional development in security awareness.

Information Sharing

Sharing information about threats, breaches, and best practices is essential to staying informed and threat ready. When one organization encounters a new threat and shares information about it, others can prepare and defend themselves more effectively. By sharing experiences, FIs can establish best practices and set industry benchmarks, enhancing their overall cyber security posture. Quick dissemination of information about emerging threats can aid in timely response and mitigation, limiting potential damage. Ways to stay informed:

  • Sign up for email news alerts from a reputable source. DefenseStorm’s Director of Cyber Defense compiles and distributes a daily list with links to the most important cyber risk news that affects your FI. It’s completely free and gathered from only credible sources.

Sign up to receive these daily email FREE Security Intel Opt-In

  • Follow credible organizations for threat alerts specific to your industry. DefenseStorm’s expert threat intelligence team regularly shares current/potential threats on our internal community platform as well as our website.
  • Join round table discussions/webinars to become a part of the conversation. Fraud Fusion Centers are considered one of the most effective ways to tackle cyber fraud and stop it before money ever leaves accounts. DefenseStorm’s Fraud Fusion Center brings together professionals from different departments and industries to discuss the latest threats and best practices to combat cyber fraud. Join DefenseStorm for our quarterly Fraud Fusion Center.

As the demand for digital innovation continues to increase and cyber threats evolve in complexity, there’s a pressing need for FIs and individuals alike to prioritize cyber risk awareness. Your employees’ level of cyber risk awareness is equally important to the tools, technology, and services in your cyber risk management solution. By emphasizing continuous training, promoting information sharing, and integrating other essential strategies, we can collectively pave the way to a stronger cyber defense.

DefenseStorm

DefenseStorm experts collaborate to share valuable insights, tips, trends, and resources about cyber risk management. Information sharing is a critical component of cyber risk readiness and considered a best practice to improve cyber risk awareness. As a leader in the industry, we strive to build a community of trust by providing the most current and important information that affects your financial institution.