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Cybersecurity Training for Executives: Critical Topics & Courses

September 7, 20238 min read


Cyber threats are continuing to increase globally. According to recent data, global cyberattacks increased by a whopping 38% in 2022 and are expected to continue on an upward swing.

There are many potential reasons for the uptick, from an ever-expanding attack surface to IT budget cuts due to inflation. However, simple human error is also a leading cause of dangerous breaches. According to Verizon, 82% of breaches involved the human element, including errors.

This fact underscores the importance of cybersecurity training for all within an organization, from the C-suite down. The best way to champion cybersecurity training within your enterprise is to start at the top by training the influencers: your business leaders.

In this guide, we discuss the importance of cybersecurity training for executives, critical topics to cover, and courses that might just be the perfect jumping-off point.

Before we dive in, here are five things to know about cybersecurity training for executives:

  • Cybersecurity training involves teaching executives and their teams about common threats and the methods used to prevent them.
  • Cybersecurity training for executives is critical for preventing costly data breaches and remaining in compliance, among other reasons.
  • There are various critical topics that training should cover, including password hygiene, mobile device security, and data security.
  • There's a wide range of cybersecurity courses and classes available for executives, including options from MIT and LinkedIn Learning.
  • One way to quickly boost organizational security is by implementing a password management tool such as TeamPassword.

[Table of Contents]

Why Is Cybersecurity Training Critical for Business Leaders?

Cybersecurity training involves educating executives and their teams on cybersecurity threats and the best practices required to prevent them. Training can be completed in many ways, from seminars to in-depth courses.

Regardless of how it's delivered, cybersecurity training for executives is critical for:

  • Preventing costly data breaches and attacks: Humans are the first line of defense against cyberattacks. Proper education empowers your executives to know what to do and what not to do when it comes to accessing company files, using customer data, sending sensitive information, and beyond. This knowledge prevents costly data breaches and attacks. And when the average cost of a data breach is $4.45 million, it's easy to see the benefit of training to prevent them.
  • Building a culture that prioritizes cybersecurity: Your executives are influencers within your organization. If they learn to prioritize cybersecurity, you can start to build a company culture that does the same.
  • Protecting your customers: It's your responsibility to protect your customers' personal information. Data breaches can result in that data falling into the wrong hands, which can be detrimental to those you serve. Cybersecurity training ensures your executives understand how to best handle customer data and what to do in the event of a breach.
  • Remaining in compliance: As a business, there are various cybersecurity and data protection laws you must follow. For example, some laws govern how organizations gather and use employee and customer data. Through training, your executives can get to know these requirements and what must be done to comply. As a result, your business can remain in compliance, preventing serious consequences such as large fines.

Cybersecurity Training for Executives: 7 Topics to Know

When developing or seeking out cybersecurity training programs, there are some critical topics you should ensure are covered. These topics include everything from data security principles to password hygiene.

#1. Data Security

Whether you're a startup or an established global enterprise, one thing's for sure: your executives are dealing with data daily. From company financial data to customer data, critical information is flowing freely throughout your business.

Unfortunately, that data is something many cybercriminals would do anything to get their hands on. And they'll use a wide range of tactics to do so, from phishing to malware.

Data security training ensures your executives know how to properly use, store, and manage this data to thwart cyber threats. It can also help your team understand what a potential threat looks like, so they can respond quickly.

#2. Mobile Device Security

In business today, work isn't reserved for the office desktop computer. In fact, many executives are working remotely or on the go using laptops and mobile devices.

While the ability to work from anywhere is convenient, mobile devices increase your potential attack surface. Executives should be trained on mobile device best practices, such as keeping apps up-to-date, using encryption, and taking advantage of virtual private networks (VPNs).

#3. Phishing & Other Threats

Cybercriminals are creative, and there are many attack methods they use to break into your systems. For example, phishing is a method used to trick your employees into giving away sensitive information such as passwords or other sensitive data.

Executives should be kept informed of current threats and new threats as they emerge. By understanding the threats, they'll know exactly what to look for and how to best respond.

#4. Email Security & Use

Hundreds of emails are sent throughout your organization daily. Unfortunately, each of these emails presents a potential cyber threat.

For example, cybercriminals are known to send malicious links that, when clicked, infect business systems with malware. Executives should understand how to safely use email and what to avoid to prevent these risks.

#5. Social Media Security

Whether using LinkedIn for networking or Facebook for staying connected with family, social media is a big part of our lives. Due to its use, social media is ripe for threats. Nine in 10 people know someone whose social media accounts have been hacked.

Social media threats include everything from malware attacks to password theft. Executives should understand how to secure their social media accounts and what to avoid when using different platforms.

For example, executives should understand what they can and can't share on social to prevent critical company info from falling into the wrong hands. They should also understand the importance of security tools such as two-factor authentication that can help protect their accounts.

#6. Cloud Security

Many organizations are moving their operations to cloud-based environments. And while there are many benefits to doing so, the cloud comes with unique security challenges.

For example, complex cloud environments can be misconfigured, leading to gaping security holes. In addition, a lack of visibility is common with cloud-based environments, making securing data a challenge.

Executives should be trained on how to access cloud services securely and how to protect their accounts by using strong passwords and other methods.

#7. Password Hygiene

Every app, system, or service that executives use is gated by a password. These seemingly simple strings of letters, numbers, and other characters are often standing between a cybercriminal and your sensitive data.

That's why it's critical for executives and all members of an organization to practice good password hygiene. This includes everything from creating strong passwords to understanding how to share passwords safely.

Executives and teams alike should also know how to utilize a password manager like TeamPassword. Password managers boost security by keeping all logins in one secure location instead of a spreadsheet. They also enable secure password sharing and access management.

4 Cybersecurity Courses for Executives

Luckily, there's no need to start from scratch when developing training materials and programs for business leaders. There are many robust cybersecurity courses available you can take advantage of.

#1. Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook by MIT

The Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook course is a six-week-long deep dive for business leaders, managers, and executives. Throughout the program, students learn cybersecurity frameworks, leading approaches to cybersecurity (such as NIST), and more. This course has a one-time fee of $2,950 with early-bird pricing options.

#2. Foundations: Computers, Technology & Security by SANS

The in-depth Foundations: Computers, Technology & Security course by SANS includes over 120 hours of content on everything from networking fundamentals to digital forensics. The course is a perfect option for business leaders without IT or cybersecurity experience. A one-time fee of $3,020 is required.

#3. Cybersecurity Leadership by Northwestern University

The Cybersecurity Leadership course is a six-week-long class that instructs leaders on how to lead cyber response strategies. During the course, students explore cybersecurity strategies, learn how to inspire strategy adoption, and discover how to implement security initiatives within their companies.

#4. Cybersecurity for Executives by LinkedIn Learning

The Cybersecurity for Executives course was made for executives who wish to understand how to manage cybersecurity risks within their organizations. Students dive into common cyberattacks and the basics of security hygiene. This course can be accessed for just $34.99 through LinkedIn Learning.

Secure Your Organization With TeamPassword

Cybersecurity training for executives is a surefire way to protect your organization from damaging security threats. However, there are some additional security measures you can take now to secure your data, including implementing a password management tool.

TeamPassword helps you protect your data and systems with a robust password manager, password generation capabilities, and more. Secure your critical data today by signing up for TeamPassword.

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