Only about a third of small businesses offer any cybersecurity training. In this post we’ll discuss the main kinds of training small businesses need and some resourceful ways to find free training materials.
Basic Cybersecurity Awareness:
For small business owners and all staff members, basic cybersecurity awareness training is vital. This training should cover fundamental concepts such as identifying phishing emails, recognizing social engineering tactics, and understanding the importance of strong passwords. Emphasize the significance of avoiding suspicious attachments or links, as well as reporting any suspicious activities to the appropriate personnel within the organization. This is not “one and done”. Have this training at least quarterly so you can learn about emerging threats and keep all the basic concepts top of mind.
Secure Data Handling and Privacy:
Both small business owners and their financial personnel should receive training on secure data handling and privacy practices. This training should include guidance on how to properly store and transmit sensitive information, such as customer data and financial records. Educate staff on the importance of data encryption, secure file sharing, and the necessity of keeping customer information confidential.
Password and Account Security:
Cybersecurity training should highlight the importance of strong passwords and good account security practices. Encourage staff to create unique, complex passwords and avoid using the same password across multiple accounts. Additionally, promote the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) for added account security, which involves using a second form of verification, such as a code sent to a mobile device.
Safe Internet and Email Practices:
Training on safe internet and email practices is essential for all staff members. This includes educating employees about the risks of visiting suspicious websites, downloading files from unknown sources, and clicking on links from untrusted emails. Emphasize the importance of skepticism and caution when interacting with emails, especially those requesting personal information or financial transactions. Encourage staff to verify the authenticity of emails through alternative means before taking any action.
Incident Reporting and Response:
Ensure all staff members understand the process for reporting cybersecurity incidents promptly. Establish clear lines of communication and provide guidance on how to report suspicious activities, potential breaches, or any unusual system behaviors. Emphasize the importance of reporting incidents without fear of repercussions, as early detection can significantly minimize the impact of cyber threats.
Free and Low-Cost Resources
Many reputable organizations offer free online courses and webinars on cybersecurity. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udemy offer a wide range of introductory and advanced cybersecurity courses. Additionally, industry associations, government agencies, and cybersecurity firms often organize webinars focused on specific cybersecurity topics. These online resources provide valuable insights into best practices, threat awareness, and risk mitigation strategies.
Explore the websites of government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and national cybersecurity centers to access their resources. These materials often include videos, infographics, posters, and fact sheets that can be used for training purposes.