Security Training at Most Companies is Woefully Lacking

Security Training at Most Companies is Woefully Lacking.

Human error and lack of internal security awareness are the biggest sources for data breaches and risk to organizations. Yet 78% of SMBs conduct security training just once a year (or less).

According to Shred-it’s 2016 Security Tracker survey (conducted by Ipsos), US companies are failing to prioritize employee training to mitigate fraud and breaches. It’s not just a small business problem either: Half (51%) C-suite respondents report they only conduct employee training for information security practices once a year or less as well.

More than a quarter (28%) report they have never trained employees on legal compliance requirements or company information security procedures. And 22% only conduct training on an ad-hoc basis.

Given that experts suggest employees can forget 90% of training information within a week, training once a year is a wildly insufficient practice for effective security awareness.

“With employees returning to work in the fall, business leaders have a prime opportunity to engage their teams and raise awareness of information security risks,” said Andrew Lenardon, global director, Shred-it. “They can consider taking advantage of this time to launch a comprehensive training program that makes information security best practices a part of all employees’ daily routine and responsibilities.”

Shred-It suggests a multipronged strategy:

1. Commit to a Culture of Security: When management demonstrates a commitment to information security, employees are more likely to follow suit. If managers behave in a way that undermines security policies and procedures, employees won’t take them seriously either. Consider asking employees to take a pledge to make their workplace a more secure environment. Display the pledge in various locations throughout the office. To encourage participation from all areas of the business, consider appointing employees from a range of departments to participate on a committee focused on improving information security practices.

2. Repetition and Frequency is Key: Training should occur throughout the year and include various modules on organizational information security policies. Consider a “multichannel” approach utilizing a mix of in-person and digitally-delivered video training content to ensure employees are aware of how to handle and dispose of confidential information.

3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Place visual cues throughout the office to remind employees of their responsibilities in protecting confidential information. Reminder posters, such as this series of office security posters from Shred-it that targets common workplace errors and areas that increase the risk of a data breach.

4. Go Where your Employees Are: A growing number of employees are now working outside of the traditional office environment. Ensure training addresses the safe destruction of confidential information for both office and remote workers. Also leverage internal newsletters, intranet news feeds, employee and corporate social media accounts to provide constant reminders about different aspects of information security that employees can access regardless of their location. Keep the information short to make it more digestible.

5. Embed it: Make security best practices a seamless part of daily tasks. Implement a Shred-it all Policy, which requires all documents to be destroyed when they’re no longer needed and a Clean Desk policy which encourages employees to clear their desks and lock documents in a filing cabinet or storage unit when they leave their workstation at the end of each day. When these policies become common practice, there is little decision left to employees on what should and shouldn’t be destroyed.

“Successful programs focus on building organizational knowledge and capacity on the right way to manage, store and destroy physical and digital data,” said Lenardon. “Without good training repeated throughout the year, employees can unintentionally expose their organizations to serious risks including reputational damage, theft, fraud and data loss.”

Originally published on Infosecurity Magazine.

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