cybersecurity training

5 essential lessons from a cybersecurity training and awareness session (Part I)


Cybersecurity training is mandatory for all businesses and individuals. Small businesses in Africa must start investing in cybersecurity training and awareness for their employees. Recently, a friend invited me to give a talk about information/cyber security to small businesses in Cameroon. Cybersecurity remains a nascent idea amongst companies in Cameroon, and small businesses are yet to give it the required attention. While most international companies in Cameroon comply with international cybersecurity requirements, most small businesses are unsure if they should invest in cybersecurity. cybersecurity training and awareness

Cybersecurity is an investment, not an expense. It may not directly generate revenue, but neglecting it can ruin your business. Even more critical, cybersecurity is not just for businesses. It’s for everyone. Often, individuals are the weak link to a cybersecurity attack. Small businesses must pay close attention to their cybersecurity posture because they could be the weak link to ruining their business or their employer’s fortune. The most important message during this talk was: cybersecurity training and awareness is mandatory. Small businesses must protect their devices from cyber attacks through cybersecurity training and awareness.

Simple tips like using free versions of antiviruses on phones can go a long way to protect businesses. But more importantly, small business owners must be vigilant and aware to avoid hackers and scammers. They rely on simple links sent via text messages, social media texts, or emails to launch malicious attacks on phones. Similarly, they use familiar conversations to deceive people on voice calls, text messages and social media relationships to deceive unsuspecting victims. In a previous article, I explained how African journalists can protect themselves online. Small businesses should read the article and adopt the required protective standards. 

During the talk, I elicited information from participants to gauge their understanding and lead the conversation. I will share a few questions and the lessons I learned during that conversation. 

What is information security or cybersecurity?

I used these terms loosely to determine if participants understood their need to secure their information. Most participants did not have a direct understanding of information security or cybersecurity. While some participants connected security to information and cyberspace, they did not believe it related to their business or their personal lives. 

Participants consistently practice and enforce physical security over cybersecurity. The immediate threats to their businesses, although cybersecurity risks are becoming rampant, as discussed below. cybersecurity training and awareness

Is hacking a common risk to small businesses? 

Most participants understand that hacking is a serious business risk. They don’t think they are targets because they believe hacking only happens to businesses with computers connected to the internet. I then asked if they run any aspect of their business using smartphones. All participants said they send SMS, WhatsApp, make calls, use apps, mobile money banking, and sometimes browse the internet from their phones.

Smartphones are merely mini-computers that come in handy and ease business operations. Businesses operating on computers or smartphones run similar risks of being hacked since they perform similar functions and are exposed to the same risks. 

During the conversation, I asked if they had received emails, text messages or WhatsApp messages promising a prize if they clicked links included in the message. About 80% of participants accepted they have clicked on such links but have never won a prize. Social engineering is rampant in Cameroon. Participants couldn’t tell if clicking on these links compromised their systems. cybersecurity training and awareness

Many people have frequently lost access to their online accounts, including Facebook, X (Twitter), Whatsapp, etc. Cybercriminals have been succeeding in compromising small businesses in Cameroon. With simple tips like better password management and protection, small businesses can protect their accounts from hackers. Read my blog on 5 Ways to Manage and Protect Your Passwords

To be continued


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