The Ultimate Guide to Security Awareness Training

The Ultimate Guide to Security Awareness Training

At CybeReady, we believe that security awareness training should be easy, effective, and even fun for employees.

These short Best Practices videos will help you turn your cybersecurity culture around.

Please feel free to share them with your team or anyone else who may find this Guide helpful!

Kicking off a Successful Security Awareness Program

When you’re starting out - first take the story back to the beginning: what did you try previously, and why didn’t it work for your organization?

Most of our customers have already tried the wide net approach, where employees have trained a handful of times a year in a wide range of projects. It’s true that this approach simply doesn’t work, and it ultimately fails to impact employee behavior.

These programs then usually lead the customers to CybeReady, where we do three things:

  1. We narrow down your security awareness training to focus on the most important threats.
  2. We align the solution with engagement targeted at your employee needs.
  3. We include the ability to run security training continuously, month after month.

By the end of the year, we see a real change in our customer environments, and they are then ready to widen the solution to a new set of behaviors or threats.

Read more about creating best practices for security awareness, right here.

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Creating a Strong Security Awareness Culture in your Organization

A positive security awareness culture means creating a training program that engages employees - it should be built for them, rather than assuming they will be driven to educate themselves.

If you want to implement security awareness programs that stick, putting employees at the center is key. This means creating short, accessible, and digestible content that employees can consume immediately, that arrives at the right time, and that is relevant to their needs.

Many security awareness programs rely on chasing the employees, trying to get them to engage. But the natural response to being chased is running away! In contrast, effective security awareness programs will allow the employee to opt-in and consume meaningful content that speaks to them and is relevant to their needs.

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What Kind of Security Awareness Content Should I Promote?

Understanding the format that this training should take is essential. First, let’s settle an age-old debate: video, or text-based training content?

Let’s face it. No one is searching for security training sessions on Netflix. When we’re talking about compliance and corporate training, employees want to be able to easily see what a training session will cover, and choose which elements to engage with, and what to skip. This can only happen with text-based content, so effective training can’t be provided via video lessons.

Text-based format also has added benefits above and beyond engagement alone, making it easy to slice training into bite-sized nuggets that improve retention and also to adapt it over time as organizational needs change and evolve.

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Should I Create Spear Phishing Campaigns to Test my Employees?

Another important decision is whether your content is hyper-personalized, or just broadly customized for different levels of employee risk?

Some security teams build spear-phishing campaigns that focus on highly customized phishing attacks for a fraction of their employees. These put plenty of resources into creating targeted attacks that are sophisticated and built to slip past employee defenses.

However, the data shows that even simple phishing attacks often work, and there isn’t a great correlation between how much time is spent forming a phishing email and the success of the phish.

Instead, continuously training and testing 100% of your employees is a much more effective way to approach security training, ensuring that you’re consistently improving that education gap and boosting employee behavior.

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How Can I Measure Effectiveness of my Security Training Program?

When it comes to any Security Awareness Training program, measurement is key. But how can you know the impact that your training is having on your security culture if you’re not measuring the change?

Most security programs measure participation, such as who has enrolled, watched the videos, interacting with the content, and more. However, do these metrics tell you anything valuable about employee behavior? Not really. Take phishing simulations for example. Without context, it’s not helpful to receive data on how many employees clicked on an unsafe link. Instead, you want to be able to measure progress.

This requires more than just click rate, it requires context. Your security awareness program needs to provide data such as which employees are repeat offenders, who failed the test for the first time, and the employees who have changed their behavior from one month to the next. These are the data points that matter and can allow you to build both an effective security platform for staff training and the proof you need to show management what really works.

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How Should I Handle High Risk Employees?

One area that’s essential to consider is your high-risk employee group. For starters, you need to identify who they are, and here's your first hint: these are not the employees who click on the most phishing simulation links.

High-Risk employees are most likely to open you up to a cyber threat. That doesn’t mean they are the employees that click on the majority of phishing links in a simulation – after all, you could just be identifying a beginner who hasn’t seen what to look out for yet. Instead, we’re talking about the employees who are poorest at picking up the skills to evade phishing scams, and need extra training, or extra defenses to meet the threat.

Organizations today have three challenges when it comes to managing high-risk employees. It starts by simply identifying which employees are high risk in the first place. Second, it’s about reducing the number of high-risk employees under your roof, with effective security training that changes behavior. As a last line of defense, it’s about containing the risk of the remaining amount of employees who will remain in that category.

Only continuous security training can provide the insight that you need to find the high-risk employees, and then minimize the group down to a more manageable number for you to take the next steps to contain this risk.

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Proving ROI of Your Security Awareness Training Program

For cybersecurity awareness training to work, it needs the buy-in of management, whether that’s your direct superior, or the CISO, the entire C-suite, or the board.

What your management wants to see more than anything else is ROI, so the goals of your Security Awareness Program need to be in line with their own. Firstly, you want management to see that you’ve done a great job, and secondly, that the results of the program are working in alignment with the company as a whole.

To make this happen, explain to the room what progress looks like, and then use data to show how the solution has helped you to get there. Add a bit of storytelling to explain the business benefits of the program, whether that’s how you’ve reduced the high-risk employee group, boosted engagement for employees, or even improved the security culture across the organization as a whole.

Read more about showing the ROI of your security awareness program:

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Ready to kickstart your security awareness training?

Our team is available to address any of your concerns, and share how we can help you to implement a future-focused and effective approach to changing employee behavior towards cyber-attacks.