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The importance of cyber security upskilling

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. Businesses of all sizes and across all sectors face myriad cyber threats, both from external and internal sources. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown has presented cyber criminals with additional opportunities to infiltrate company networks and steal their data. During 2020, cyber crime caused nearly $1 trillion in damage, according to ‘The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime’ report by McAfee.

Because the internet touches all aspects of business, countermeasures require a co-ordinated and holistic approach. Cyber criminals often exploit internal vulnerabilities in the business and general consensus is that educating employees is a key aspect of defending your data and networks against cyber crime. “Cyber security awareness requires behavioural change among people employed at the business,” says Stanley Dogbatsey, NATED Facilitator at CTU Training Solutions Centre of Excellence (Pretoria Campus).

He goes on to say that some of the biggest cyber security threats faced by business today can be stopped in their tracks by an alert workforce. “Social engineering attacks, such as phishing, rely on users clicking on links or attachments to gain access to the network. Educating your employees on what suspicious e-mails or links look like can help prevent this type of attack from being successful. Ransomware is another common cyber threat, relying on spam e-mails or weak user credentials to access the company network and cause large-scale data loss. Again, educating employees about changing their login details, not sharing them with anyone and not writing these down on a sticky note can go a long way towards countering this type of cyber threat.”

Dogbatsey says: “Last year’s overnight move to a remote workforce resulted in companies rushing their digital transformation journeys and their shift to the cloud. This often resulted in vulnerabilities that cyber criminals were able to exploit. Once again, user education might have helped counter some of the attacks that were reported in the media.”

It’s clear that the importance of companies upskilling their employees so they can defend the business against the cyber security threats of today and tomorrow cannot be overstated.

How businesses can improve their cyber security

Skills shortages in IT in general and internet security specifically are critical threats to the future growth of South African businesses. Dogbatsey says: “Companies should have a suitable skills development plan combined with cyber security awareness training to make the most of deployed cyber security technologies. This plan should allow the business to systematically develop employees to address the skills gaps in IT and internet security so that the business can achieve and maintain cyber security and empower its human capital at the same time.”

CTU Training Solutions offers a wide variety of IT and internet security qualifications and courses to help businesses and their associates keep their skills and knowledge up to date to protect their business against any cyber threat.

CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Security+ certification designates knowledgeable professionals in the field of security, one of the fastest-growing fields in IT. Security threats are increasing in number and severity, and the gap between the need for security professionals and qualified IT personnel is the largest of any IT specialty, according to a 2008 CompTIA study.

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CompTIA CySA +
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) is an IT workforce certification that applies behavioural analytics to networks and devices to prevent, detect and combat cyber security threats through continuous security monitoring.

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Microsoft AZ 500 Azure Security Technologies
This course provides IT security professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to implement security controls, maintain an organisation’s security posture, and identify and remediate security vulnerabilities. It includes security for identity and access, platform protection, data and applications, and security operations.

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Technical Support & Cloud Solutions
In this department, the IT technical support qualification creates entry-level systems support professionals with good fundamental knowledge of the technical support field. The next qualification in the Technical Support & Cloud Solutions track, IT Cloud Solutions Administrator, further builds on the technical skills required to progress to the IT Cloud Solutions Engineer.

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