Are You Making These 5 Security Awareness Training Mistakes?

Author: Joseph Jachimiec, Security Administrator

Is your company making these five security awareness training mistakes? Read on to discover what they are, why it’s important to fix them, and how to get started on the right path.

Imagine this scenario (this shouldn’t be too hard since we’ve all experienced it):

An email from your bank pops into your inbox. They’re performing maintenance on their website and need you to click on a link and login with your username and password to make sure everything is working. The email also warns that you’d better do it right away or they’ll cancel your account!

Seems kind of strange; you’ve received nothing like this from your bank before. And weird… they’ve made spelling mistakes in the email. Something doesn’t seem right, but it’s from your bank after all, and you don’t want your account canceled.

So you take your mouse, hover over the link and…

What you do next could be the difference between a wonderful day and a lousy day. Your next actions will determine whether you move on to more productive things or whether you open yourself up to months of financial misery and identity theft.

What do you do? How do you react when you receive an email like this? Do you have anything in your mental toolbox to help you determine what to do next?

This is where security awareness training comes in. With proper training (and awareness), you know what to do (and what NOT to do) in these kinds of situations.

What is Security Awareness Training?

According to the training experts at KnowBe4, security awareness training is “a form of education that seeks to equip members of an organization with the information they need to protect themselves and their organization’s assets from loss or harm.”

With that definition in mind, here are five security awareness training mistakes I see businesses make all the time. Is your company suffering from any of these?

1. Training Once

It’s great if your employees are getting at least SOME security awareness training. You’ve made the first step and you’re doing more than many other companies out there. But if you’re training “one and done,” you’re making a big mistake. Humans are creatures of habit, so any training should cater to that. Security awareness training should be continual and consistent.

Here’s a schedule that works at Nahan:

  • Weekly – quick or newsy security tip in Nahan News (weekly newsletter to employees)
  • Monthly – online video training modules, automated email phishing tests, security policy overview (or similar topic) in monthly internal news poster
  • Yearly – security policy training and acknowledgment, HIPAA training, PCI DSS training, etc.
  • Onboarding – introductory security training for new Nahan employees. Includes security policies, physical security, HIPAA awareness, and other training. New hires sign acknowledgment forms for Nahan Human Resources.

So you see, training should be ongoing throughout the year. If you make the mistake of training only once, users will fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap regarding security.

2. No Signed Acknowledgements

Nahan not only requires employees to sign security training acknowledgments at the time of hire but each year as well. These acknowledgments help with compliance and risk management. They also identify gaps in training (for example, who didn’t sign an acknowledgment this year and why?). Acknowledgments are also an excellent way for employees to feel like they’ve got some “skin in the game” with our information security program. 

Our acknowledgment forms include agreements to:

  • Read and understand pillar security policies
  • Access the full information security manual for future reference
  • Follow the policies
  • Take part in continual security awareness training

3. Lack of Training Variety

To keep things interesting, it’s a smart idea to include a variety of different training materials for your employees.

I like to use everything from Nahan newsletters, online video training, email training, live classroom training, and everything in between. If you ever get a chance to visit us at the Nahan HQ in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, you’ll even notice a few of our security awareness training posters scattered throughout the building. Content variety will help crush boredom and familiarity and will also catch the eye.

If you’re doing only one or two kinds of training, not bad!

Now try adding a third or fourth format to make your training more interesting (and yes, fun) for your workforce.

4. No Phishing Tests

Again from our friends at KnowBe4, “phishing is the process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity using bulk email which tries to evade spam filters.

Emails claiming to be from popular social websites, banks, auction sites, or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. It’s a form of criminally fraudulent social engineering.”

Some Phishing Stats

Phishing is a monstrous problem. Check out these statistics:

  • 65% of US organizations experienced a successful phishing attack in 20191
  • 96% of phishing attacks arrive by email2
  • The average breach costs organizations $3.92 million3 

It’s clear that if your organization is not doing phishing tests, it’s a matter of time before you become part of those stats.

Sending scheduled phishing tests to your personnel is a powerful way to train them when facing something suspicious. Be sure to give them a way to report these and other phishing emails and incidents. Perform phishing tests for email first (the most common form of phishing) and add voicemail and USB phishing later on.

An effective test for USB phishing is to drop a USB thumb drive in the break room or copier room of your office. If someone finds it and plugs it in, the USB drive will “phone home” to your phishing system to let you know it’s been activated. At that point, you’ll know to do some extra training.

I’m happy to report that during our Nahan USB phishing tests, no users plugged the drives into any systems; our trained users found the drives and returned them, without plugging them in.

That’s the power of good security awareness training.

Test at Least Monthly

Since email phishing is the most popular attack vector, send email phishing tests at least monthly. Not only does this expose users to “safe” phishing emails (the more they see them, the more they can tell real emails from phishy ones), it instills actions to deal with real phishing emails when they do come in.

When your people are trained to not click on strange email links, not open unexpected email attachments, and report incidents, you’ll be 90% of the way towards protecting your business from malicious phishing attacks.

5. No Training

The biggest mistake is doing no security awareness training at all.

If your team has email and internet access and you aren’t training them, you’re making them fend for themselves in shark-infested waters — except these sharks are malicious attackers using social engineering, ransomware, phishing, infected attachments, identity theft, and more. You must give your people a fighting chance and security awareness training is the key.

One added benefit I’ve seen with Nahan’s security awareness training program is staff taking their new skills home to teach their families how to protect themselves in cyberspace. They’ve explained social engineering to them and have even asked me if training is available for their families. It is! Nahan makes free online training available to all our families.

Bonus Mistakes!

Want more? Here are other mistakes I’ve seen. Are you guilty of these?

No onboarding security training

New employee orientation is the right time to start security awareness training. If your onboarding program doesn’t include a security module, you’re missing a great opportunity to get new hires involved.

A Nahan orientation includes the following security training modules and more:

You’ll also get our HIPAA awareness training, so you know how to protect health information in case your role requires it.

Not reviewing results or user feedback

Security awareness training should produce a measurable result. You want to see trending improvement with your phishing tests over time, for example. If you don’t see the results you were hoping for, you’ll know it’s time to change up the training you’re delivering. What’s not working? How can you improve the results? Asking questions like this will help guide your program tweaks.

Nahan’s Information Security Leadership Oversight Committee (ISLOC) reviews the results of our various information security awareness training activities. Likewise, Nahan’s third-party security auditors also review our results to help make sure we stay on track with beneficial and measurable training.

Conclusion

It’s easy to make mistakes when rolling out a security awareness training program, but if you focus on results and not perfection, you’ll make measurable progress over the long run.

And that’s the key — consistent progress over time, based on training repetition.

Do that, avoid the mistakes in this post, and your workforce will know exactly what to do (and what NOT to do) the next time they receive that fake bank phishing email.

Have more questions about how we train our employees to protect your data? Contact us today!

1 https://www.proofpoint.com/sites/default/files/gtd-pfpt-uk-tr-state-of-the-phish-2020-a4_final.pdf

2 https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/2020-data-breach-investigations-report.pdf

3 https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach

Joseph Jachimiec is a security, IT, and marketing professional. As the Security Administrator at Nahan, he heads up our information security program and is the go-to guy for our customer/third-party security audits and PCI, SOC 2, and HIPAA compliance initiatives. In his spare time, he dreams about what it would be like to have more spare time.

Image by LTDatEHU from Pixabay

Nahan Printing, Inc. Achieves 2020 PCI DSS Compliance and Certification

SAINT CLOUD, MN – MAY 14, 2020 – Nahan Printing, Inc., award-winning provider of commercial print, direct mail, and digital solutions, announced its achievement of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Compliance and Certification for 2020.

PCI DSS is an information security framework designed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). PCI Compliance is for entities that transmit, process, or store credit card data. The standard guides organizations in protecting cardholder data by preventing fraud and securing Cardholder Data Environments (CDEs).

PCI Logo

2020 marks the fifth year in a row that Nahan has earned the demanding certification. To meet compliance requirements, Nahan performed ongoing management and auditing of physical, technical, and administrative controls of their CDE throughout the year.


The successful audit resulted in Nahan’s Attestation of Compliance (AOC) for Service Providers. The AOC reviews Nahan’s compliance in detail by assessing the 12 main requirements of PCI DSS. Requirements include maintaining a vulnerability management program, implementing strong access control measures, maintaining information security policies, and more.

FRSecure LLC of Minnetonka, Minnesota, conducted Nahan’s PCI audit. As a PCI DSS Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), FRSecure provided the necessary expertise to evaluate and consult Nahan on their PCI DSS compliance.

“Achieving our PCI certification is one of the yearly milestones of Nahan’s ongoing Information Security Program,” stated Curt Tillotson, Nahan’s Chief Operating Officer.

“Our commitment to information security doesn’t stop with our PCI environment, either. It extends throughout our organization. Our customers not only appreciate this, they require it.”

– Curt Tillotson, Chief Operating Officer, Nahan Printing

About Nahan

Nahan Printing is a Minnesota-based, independent, family-owned, world class printer committed to providing end-to-end solutions that add value to clients. Since its inception in 1962, Nahan has specialized in catalog and direct mail printing for industries such as retail, financial services, non-profit, and hospitality. With a client roster of legendary brands, Nahan prints iconic work that represents the highest level of quality and innovation in the industry. For more information about Nahan, please visit https://www.nahan.com/.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Three Things to Look for in a Secure Print Partner

Author: Joseph Jachimiec, Security Administrator

Yogi Berra once said, “Okay you guys, pair up in threes… and talk about information security!”

Okay, I added the part about information security. But he still said “pair up in threes,” which is a brilliant Yogi-ism…

Taking his advice to heart, I paired up my knowledge about InfoSec and came up with three things to look for in a secure print partner. Play ball!

1. A Maturing Information Security Program

Your print partner must have an information security program, period.

Bonus points if they have a “maturing” InfoSec program. This means the program (by design) develops and improves over time, guided by business and customer needs. Sprinkle in leadership commitment, reliable frameworks, and awareness training, and you’re off to a good start.

Sounds simple, but it’s not. Consider the following…

Leadership Commitment

A robust information security program starts from the top down. It must have the full support of the CEO and company leadership with a clear security commitment shown to employees, stakeholders, vendors, and customers.

Controls

As discussed in my previous article, a well-designed InfoSec program encompasses administrative, physical, and technical controls.

For administrative controls, think policies and documentation. For physical controls, think door locks, cameras, and key cards. And for technical controls, think firewalls and encryption. Make sure there are policies, standards, procedures, and guidelines in each of these areas. 

Frameworks & Training

Ask if they built the program on a well-known cybersecurity framework like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, CIS Controls, or ISO/IEC 27001:2013.

Also, make sure the print vendor has a diverse security awareness training program for its employees. More about this later.

2. Independent Third-Party Security Audits

Okay, your potential print partner has an information security program. They’ve told you they segment their networks, scan for vulnerabilities (and patch them), and have full documentation and policies.

Do you take their word for it? Or do you, as the Russian proverb goes, trust but verify?

I think you know the answer. But how do you verify? It’s time-consuming and expensive to fly your security auditors out. However, due diligence is a must.

That’s where independent third-party security audits come in. Trained, unbiased auditors perform these evaluations. And in most cases, compliance obligations require third-party validation.

So ask about the third party reports and certifications that confirm your potential print partner is meeting their InfoSec duties. Make sure they’re following industry standards, using best practices, and protecting your data with proven methods.

For instance, what’s their S2SCORE? Do they have an AICPA SSAE 18 SOC 2 report? If they process credit cardholder data, are they PCI DSS compliant? If you’re in the healthcare field, is the print vendor HIPAA compliant

Besides independent audits, does your potential partner have a track record of fixing security gaps? Do they have a history of remediating and improving any security findings the inspections uncover? Or do they strike out?

3. Security Awareness Training Program

I mentioned awareness training above, but it’s so important that I’m calling it out in this separate section.

Someone once said that humans are the weakest link in the security chain (no offense if you’re human). All this means is we’re emotional, and thus easy prey for social engineering trickery. 

A robust training program covers a few different bases here. First, it shines a spotlight on the threat of social engineering and teaches ways to identify it when something doesn’t seem right.

It’s not about paranoia; it’s about awareness. It’s about thinking before divulging information, clicking on a strange email link, or plugging in that USB thumb drive.

The security awareness program should use different media like email training, newsletters, video, and even live training. Is the training spread out over different time frames like weekly, monthly, and yearly?

Phishing Tests

To further combat social engineering and ransomware, make sure the vendor’s awareness training program includes email phishing tests and remediation training for anyone who takes the bait.

Policy Acknowledgments

And don’t forget about the print vendor’s security policies. All employees must be aware the information security policies exist, what those policies cover, and where to access those policies for further reference. Annual acknowledgment of security policy training is ideal.

Bonus: look to see if the print vendor cares about its employee’s digital safety outside of work. Security training for their family and home life is a welcome addition.

Conclusion

When evaluating a potential secure print partner, look for telltale signs the print provider cares about your data security. Ask them to prove it.

At the very least, look for:

  • A reliable information security program
  • Third-party assessments
  • A security training program that’s proactive about educating its employees.

Is there more to consider? Sure, but don’t get overwhelmed. Start with these basics, and you’ll go a long way toward protecting your data with your trusted print vendor.

If you’re looking for a secure print partner, contact us today. We’ll show you how Nahan meets all these criteria and more.

Joseph Jachimiec is a security, IT, and marketing professional. As the Security Administrator at Nahan, he heads up our information security program and is the go-to guy for our customer/third-party security audits and PCI, SOC 2, and HIPAA compliance initiatives. In his spare time, he dreams about what it would be like to have more spare time.

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

A Quick Intro to PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

Author: Joseph Jachimiec, Security Administrator

With over 9,300 security breaches recorded since 2005, and a whopping 10.4 billion records estimated stolen (source: privacyrights.org), it’s essential for businesses to follow a reliable security framework to guide their information security programs.

One such framework is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

In this post, we’ll take a quick look at how PCI DSS started. We’ll also define “cardholder data” and touch on the 12 requirements of the standard.

PCI DSS Overview and History

PCI DSS was introduced in 2004 by the five major credit card companies: American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB, MasterCard, and Visa.

Before joining forces, each company had internal security programs to combat rampant credit card fraud and breaches. They formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to establish a common standard. Additionally, they needed to solve the interoperability problems of individual programs.

From this group, the PCI Data Security Standard was born. It’s aim? To reduce credit card fraud and to give guidance for controls around cardholder data. To this day, the PCI Council acts as the governing body for the PCI Standard.

PCI DSS has been through many iterations since version 1.0 in 2004. Major updates to the standard were released in October 2010 (version 2.0) and November 2013 (version 3.0). At the time of this writing, version 3.2.1 is the most current, released in May 2018.

The PCI DSS applies to any entity that accepts, processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, including merchants and service providers.

What is Cardholder Data?

In short, cardholder data (and sensitive authentication data) is the good stuff that thieves are after. Here’s a breakdown from the version 3.2.1 documentation:

Table image of PCI DSS cardholder data and sensitive authentication data
Source: Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard – Requirements and Security Assessment Procedures, Version 3.2.1, May 2018, page 7

Interesting fact: although PCI DSS permits cardholder data storage, sensitive authentication data storage is not allowed, even if encrypted.

To show where this data lives on a typical credit card, take a look at this image from the PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide:

Image of credit card front and back showing types of data for PCI DSS
Source: PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide – Understanding the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard version 3.2.1, page 11

The PCI DSS Requirements

The PCI Data Security Standard breaks down into 12 compliance requirements within six goals:

Table image of PCI DSS goals and requirements
Source: PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide – Understanding the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard version 3.2.1, page 9

As you can see, each requirement is a significant security undertaking for any company. When met though, these requirements mirror security best practices, protect cardholder/sensitive authentication data, and lead toward PCI DSS compliance and certification.

The PCI DSS documentation lays out guidance steps for each requirement. It also unveils the testing procedures that the PCI Qualified Security Assessor (PCI QSA) performs to confirm the requirements are in place. Consider it your PCI cheat sheet!

Conclusion

At Nahan, PCI DSS is just one of the security frameworks that guide our information security program. We’re proud to be PCI Compliant and Certified since 2016. Our annual PCI QSA audit verifies that we’re meeting all PCI DSS requirements to protect cardholder data.

To learn more about our PCI DSS compliance and to see our Attestation of Compliance, contact us today.

Joseph Jachimiec is a security, IT, and marketing professional. As the Security Administrator at Nahan, he heads up our information security program and is the go-to guy for our customer/third-party security audits and PCI, SOC 2, and HIPAA compliance initiatives. In his spare time, he dreams about what it would be like to have more spare time.

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay