Security Awareness Training as a First and Last Line of Defense

Security Awareness Training as a First and Last Line of Defense

[7 min read]

Now more than ever, businesses continually observe the ramifications of inadequate cybersecurity awareness training unfold before them. According to some of the nation’s most prominent cybersecurity firms, businesses are being increasingly targeted by hackers, with over 43% of businesses suffering from cybercriminal attacks, up from 37% the year prior.


These attacks are no small nuisance, either. Some sources determined that businesses are spending an average of $2.6 million per year defending themselves, up from around $2.2 million in 2020.


The statistics don’t end there, however. Surveys denote that over 95% of security breaches directly result from human error.

As technology continues its trajectory to become integral for every business to succeed, cybercrime will remain a rampant problem. While we cannot solve cybercrime’s threat to our businesses, we can educate and train ourselves to minimize human error and therefore greatly reduce our risk of a cyber attack.


Security education training and awareness, or security awareness training covers topics such as secure software design, password management, access privileges, secure network connections, social engineering and phishing, device security, threat response, data classification, physical and third-party application security, and much more.


Together, the core aspects of cybersecurity awareness training build a foundation for all employees, leaders, and users to identify and eliminate points of potential failure. Experts cannot stress the importance of security awareness training and its benefits enough.


Security awareness training and education integrate themselves into a business’ two main domains of cybersecurity, their frontline and last lines of defense. Here’s a deeper look into which aspects of security awareness training cover the various facets of cybersecurity, and which domain they fall under:


Types of security endeavors that create frontline defenses


Cybersecurity and ransomware

Building secure software is only half the battle. Malicious software that encrypts data on machines until a user pays an attacker a sum of money to claim the data back, or ransomware, is a plague in our current environment.


As one of the most popular forms of cybercrime, it is paramount that employees and business decision-makers demonstrate online competencies that actively prevent ransomware attacks. Maintaining backups, having an incident response plan, and consistently using updated antivirus applications are just a few precautionary measures.


The most common form of ransomware trap is a phishing email or infected download link. This is where the human aspect of cybersecurity becomes so critical. Some businesses are even issuing “Cybersecurity for Dummies” books to their employees to help crack down on laissez-faire online behavior.

Physical security

When people think of cybersecurity, many envision thousands of lines of code, firewalls, antivirus programs, and email filters. However, hardware security is a cornerstone of upholding high cybersecurity standards.


Some institutions, especially government organizations, issue custom hardware that serves as a hardware key, allowing holders to access certain information, use specific machines, and enter permitted areas. These can be ID cards, USBs with secure software, or NFC tags.


If someone gets their hands on an employee’s badge, card, or key, a malicious user can impersonate an employee, clone the hardware key’s information, and even reverse engineer an organization’s security system.


Decision-makers, influential employees, and others who have access to sensitive information must be wary of leaving devices unattended, passwords written down, or not using two-factor authentication. Merely leaving a laptop in a public area for 45 seconds may be all it takes to compromise one’s physical and online security.


While companies will likely not ask every single one of their employees to adopt and learn high-level cybersecurity skills or comprehend and analyze cybersecurity analytics, it is important to have at least a fundamental understanding of why security awareness training is important and how a single employee’s actions can spiral into massive dangers for them and their company.


Security endeavors that are the last line of defense


Incident response

Cybersecurity consultants, analysts, and professionals constantly preach that risk management is one of the first and foremost priorities in fostering robust online security inside an organization. Though being aware of security breaches is important, how teams react and rectify complications is just as critical.


Simple incident response plans disaster recovery plans, and business continuity strategies are effective ways for IT teams to isolate and solve incidents, preventing them from spiraling out of control. Read about the differences and advantages of BCPs, DRPs, and IRPs.


In some circumstances, simply knowing how to measure anything cybersecurity risk-related can be what separates a nuisance from a zero-day exploit.



Over 95% of security breaches occur from human error, with 61% of those incidents attributed to compromised credentials. Password security, though it may seem trivial, is often both the first and last line of defense for many businesses.


Most of the time, password breaches are not caused by hackers guessing them, but through people absent-mindedly entering them and reusing the same phrases in multiple places.


Implementing randomized, encrypted, multi-factor authenticated, and unique passwords are great ways to help minimize the impact that password scammers have on businesses, but ultimately, there is only so much businesses can do to encourage employees to practice responsible cyber behavior.

Mobile security

When traveling, it is very tempting to connect to any and all free Wi-Fi locations, use public phone chargers, and keep sensitive information like credit cards and hardware keys in pockets. Today, cybercriminals can seamlessly clone and steal information wirelessly and undetected.


To truly have competent cybersecurity potential, businesses must find a mesh between frontline and backline defenses to protect their data, both on and offline.

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