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It’s Time for Your Bank to Host a Cybersecurity Awareness Program

  • by Steve Sanders
  • Sep 18, 2019

Consumers Seek Cybersecurity Education from Their Financial Institutions

Consumers face a near-daily barrage of troubling cybersecurity news, with each story being more concerning than the last. When the public learned about the Capital One data breach, consumers were again left scrambling to figure out if their personal information was included in the 106 million exposed records. So, how can financial institutions quell this constant cyber-paranoia?

To find out, CSI polled more than 2,000 American consumers to discover their perceptions of the cybersecurity threats and challenges surrounding themselves and their financial institutions. The result? Consumers (unsurprisingly) want to know how to better protect themselves and, in fact, are open to their bank showing them how. Almost three-fourths (74 percent) said that they would likely participate in a cybersecurity awareness program if offered by their financial institution.

This insight presents a tremendous opportunity to banks that want an inexpensive way to increase their value and retain more customers.

If You Host It, Consumers Will Come

Per our poll, consumers age 18 through 44 are the most likely (75 percent) to attend a bank-sponsored cybersecurity education program, but interest from those age 45 and older is not far behind (73 percent).

In terms of income, those earning $100,000 or more were especially keen (80 percent) to gain cybersecurity knowledge from their financial institution. That is not surprising given that they have more to potentially lose. However, there is a widespread appetite for such a program, with significant majorities at other income levels indicating they would likely attend:

  • Less than $50,000 – 68 percent
  • $50,000 to $74,900 – 77 percent
  • $75,000 to $99,900 – 71 percent

In short, if your institution hosts a cybersecurity awareness program, people will come. In fact, this is a huge, yet wholly underappreciated, opportunity that too many banks are ignoring. By hosting this type of program, you create a win-win for consumers and your institution.

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Bolster your institution’s reputation as a concerned corporate citizen
  • Increase the potential for new business as you share your knowledge
  • Create more cyber-aware customers able to thwart malicious cyberactivity
  • Reduce your own risk from cybercrime as a result

The Keys to a Successful Event

To really capitalize on this opportunity, you much be intentional and deliberate in planning such consumer-education events:

  • Guest list: Of course, you should include your existing customers, but don’t stop there. Cement your status as a local hero by inviting the community at large. Bill it as your commitment to public service.
  • Save the date: The bad guys aren’t waiting, so don’t procrastinate. Host your event as soon as you can properly plan it. If possible, consider scheduling it in October, which is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), “a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.”
  • Timing is everything: Reach the broadest audience by hosting several sessions conveniently scheduled for various demographics, i.e., mornings for senior citizens and stay-at-home parents of school-age children, evenings or weekends for working adults.
  • Location, location, location: Select a venue conducive to a group meeting and one that projects a professional and credible atmosphere. Also make sure the location is conveniently accessible and big enough to comfortably house your entire guest list.
  • Pick a partner: Pairing up with your local chamber of commerce, an area civic organization or academic institution is a great way to reach the broader community.
  • Give more than advice: Everyone loves free stuff, including your guests. This is a great opportunity to hand out bank-branded items like pens, mugs, etc. You could also give away a more valuable door prize to one or two lucky winners.
  • Bring in the experts: Technology can be a dry and complicated topic, so pick a speaker with the cybersecurity chops to inspire confidence and the charisma to motivate them to heed the advice.

The Makings of a Useful Message

Beyond the logistical details, you should ensure you craft an informative message, including these topics:

  • Practicing good cyber hygiene: CSO Online shares several basic cyber-hygiene tips that you can share:
  1. Use secure access points:Only connect devices through private Wi-Fi networks or use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt a public Wi-Fi network.
  2. Install updates: As soon as hardware and software updates are available, download them to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  3. Protect yourself: Always use strong, unique passwords and incorporate multi-factor authentication whenever its available.
  4. Practice safe emailing: Beware of opening links or attachments from unknown or suspicious persons.
  5. Use anti-malware protection: Explain that this isn’t just for computers and laptops anymore. Consumers need to think about mobile and other Internet-connected devices.
  • Protecting Online Footprints: The NCSAM 2019 Toolkit is a great resource for anyone hosting a cybersecurity awareness program. It also suggests talking about these online safety tips:
  1. Personalizing privacy settings
  2. Posting safely to social media
  3. Understanding the Internet of Things (IoT)
  4. Protecting from social engineering
  5. Staying safe with e-commerce
  • Responding to a data breach: Explain the key things consumers should do after a data breach, including finding out what information was stolen and if their personal data was included, as well as putting fraud alerts on affected debit and credit cards and credit reports.
  • Institutional defenses: Finally, take the opportunity to discuss how your institution protects itself and its customers and their personal data from cyber intrusion.

More Helpful Insight from CSI’s Consumer Cybersecurity Poll

Consumer receptivity to a bank-sponsored cybersecurity education program is not the only thing to learn from our survey. Download the Executive Report: CSI Consumer Cybersecurity Poll today to gain several other informative insights about how consumers feel about and interact with cybersecurity at your institution.