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Raise Cyber Awareness With the Fortinet Training Institute Fortinet

Clever cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to infiltrate personal and corporate networks, and they're not slowing down anytime soon. According to the Fortinet 1H 2022 FortiGuard Labs Threat Landscape Report, the number of new ransomware variants identified increased by nearly 100% compared to the previous six-month period.

Yet as the volume of cyberattacks grows, organizations continue to struggle to hire and retain cybersecurity talent. The Fortinet 2022 Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report found that 80% of organizations surveyed have suffered at least one breach they could attribute to a lack of cybersecurity skills or awareness. The stakes are high for successful cyberattacks. This same survey showed that 64% of the organizations that experienced breaches lost revenue.

One way organizations can work to close this gap is by ensuring their workforce is cyber aware. With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we are again reminded that regardless of an individual's job responsibility within a company, every employee plays a critical role, as they're often the first line of defense against potential attacks.

Three Simple Ways to Protect Yourself Against Cyberattacks

The good news is that you don't need a Ph.D. in engineering or cybersecurity to implement your own strong cyber hygiene practices. Here are several simple actions you can take to protect yourself:

Create Strong Passwords

It's no surprise that bad actors love to find easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities, and weak passwords top the list. Stolen credentials top the list of illegal data sold on the Darknet, and according to the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, these credentials led to nearly 50% of cyberattacks last year. Worse, many cybercriminals now sell access to organizations that have been compromised using those credentials.

Creating great passwords is an easy way to guard against becoming the victim of a cyberattack. For starters, use passwords that are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. A good rule of thumb is to use a mnemonic device, such as the first letter of every word in a sentence you know or from the lyrics to an obscure song you love, and then mix in capitalizations and special characters. Avoid using personally identifiable information in your passwords, like your birthday or address.

While following these guidelines is a solid start to improving your defenses against cyberattacks, don't try to keep track of your passwords in a spreadsheet or on a sticky note near your computer. Instead, consider using a password manager for a more secure option. A password manager can generate unique passwords for each of your online accounts (or you can create your own), encrypts those passwords, and stores them in a local or cloud-based vault. The result? It's much more difficult for an attacker to get their hands on your credentials.

Add a Layer of Protection with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is security measure that protects individuals and organizations by requiring users to provide two or more authentication factors to access an application, account, or virtual private network (VPN). Many organizations are implementing a strong access management that maintains strict standards for password creation and requires MFA. MFA offers multiple layers of security to make sure that individuals requesting access to a network are authorized to do so.

Using MFA gives you another layer of protection against cyberattacks and ensures that a cybercriminal can't access your account even if your password is already compromised. To ensure extra security for all accounts you log in to, ranging from personal email to bank accounts, to health and insurance accounts, MFA is an option that should be widely implemented and no longer a "nice to have" but a "must have" to prevent your sensitive information from being assessed in case of a breach.

Know How to Recognize Social Engineering Tactics

Social engineering attacks are one of the most common ways bad actors make their way into an organization's network. Social engineering refers to a wide range of attacks that use human interaction and emotions to manipulate the target. During the attack, a victim is fooled into giving away sensitive information or compromising security.

A social engineering attack typically involves multiple steps. The most common method is a phishing attack that lures the victim into opening a malicious attachment. Users must learn how to detect and respond to these threats. But more sophisticated techniques, such as spearphishing, are even harder to detect. In these cases, an attacker will research the potential victim, gathering information about them and how they can use them to bypass security protocols or get information. Then the attacker does something to gain the target's trust before finally manipulating them into divulging sensitive information or violating their organization's security policies.

Knowing how to spot social engineering tactics is the best defense against these attacks. When communicating online, never trust anyone whose identity you can't confirm. Don't click on anything that seems out of the ordinary or suspicious, even if the sender makes it seem urgent. And always check with the sender to ensure an unusual or unexpected request or attachment is really from them.

The Importance of Ongoing Cybersecurity Training

As cyber threats continually evolve and attackers introduce new techniques to steal data, every employee needs to know about cyber threats and how they can best protect themselves. If your employer offers cybersecurity training, take advantage of those sessions. If not, many cybersecurity-focused companies and organizations provide free online cybersecurity training courses to help you learn the steps to take to protect yourself.

If you're a security professional and aren't conducting security training already, create a program to train your entire organization regularly to help all employees understand their role in keeping the business—and themselves—safe. In addition to training courses, find other ways to test employees' cybersecurity knowledge, such as implementing simulated phishing exercises.

Being aware of cybersecurity risks and cybercriminal tactics is more important than ever both at work and at home. Taking simple steps to protect your data is foundational to protecting your information and digital assets.

Find out more about how Fortinet's Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) and Training Institute programs—including the NSE Certification program, Academic Partner program, and Education Outreach program—are helping to solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.