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How to make users aware of your IT security

Did you know that users are the single biggest focus of attacks against companies? And that attacks targeting them are continuing to increase? This is the reality facing Nordic organisations right now, which means greater responsibility for IT managers and management teams to work with IT security, while demands become stricter.

It is a general truth that users are only human, and that hackers take advantage of this. Users are therefore vulnerable to phishing, fraud and other user-oriented attacks. When we’re in our secure zone and not on the alert, it’s relatively easy for an attack to slip through. Companies therefore need to work preventively on IT security by making employees aware of the threats that exist, what they look like and how they should act. But it’s also important to add practical protection that offers help when mistakes do happen.

In this article we look at several ways of working preventively on security, from making users aware of threats to implementing the right protection for users to prevent attacks.

Common challenges relating to user security

Many different tricks and methods are used to get users to click on harmful links and attachments in emails or other message services. The user is often instructed to act quickly, which means that there is little time to check the message before a damaging click takes place. According to the security company Nimblr, which is constantly monitoring developments in the area of user security, the most common mistake at the moment is that a user clicks on a harmful link in an email from a sender claiming to be PostNord. This particular kind of email has attracted a lot of attention in the news media, which means that the results are slightly surprising, as there is a broad level of awareness that this method of attack exists.

Despite constant reminders from the IT department and news headlines, users don’t always pick up the information that they should be on the alert for this kind of email. So, how can you get through to employees, if this information still fails to make them more cautious? Here are a few methods to raise user awareness when traditional instructions or training courses don’t work:

Methods of working with user security

Micro learning

Micro learning, i.e. short, interesting training sessions that appear attractive to the user, can be used to reach users in a simpler way than in longer courses. When the information is more “appetising”, it’s easier for users to take it on board. Because hand on heart, how many users in an organisation have a serious interest in IT security?

Penetration tests

Penetration tests are a way of investigating how great the risk is that an organisation will be hacked, for example by means of attacks aimed at users. But usually, a penetration test puts the focus on checking that current security solutions are working as they should. When you conduct a penetration test, it’s important to make sure that the user aspect is included as part of the test. Then you can test, for example, how well the business deals with simulated phishing attacks aimed at users.

Work with security tools that make life difficult for hackers

There is a lot of focus on users and their responsibility for allowing unauthorised access to the IT environment, which is of course a necessity. But apart from working regularly with micro learning and testing users’ awareness of security, there are also practical solutions that make it easier for users to do the right thing.

By using technology to identify, alert and respond to suspicious emails or websites, not all the responsibility has to rest with users. Implementing multi-factor authentication when logging in is fundamental for a secure IT environment nowadays. Protection that warns users about suspicious attachments or senders is another way. The IT department can also control which systems and applications a user can have access to, depending on where he or she is located.

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