The 5 Cornerstones for an Effective Cyber Security Awareness Training

By Nitzan Gursky
image November 28, 2022 image 4 MIN READ

It’s not news that phishing attacks are getting more complex and happening more often. This year alone, APWG reported a record-breaking total of 1,097,811 phishing attacks. These attacks continue to target organizations and individuals to gain their sensitive information.

phishing attacks

Source: APWG


The hard news: they’re often successful, have a long-lasting negative impact on your organization and employees, including:

The harder news: These often could have been easily avoided.

Phishing, educating your employees, and creating a cyber awareness culture? These are topics we’re sensitive to and well-versed in. So, how can you effectively protect your organization against phishing attempts? These best practices will help transform your employees‘ behavior and build organizational resilience to phishing attacks.



1. Plan for total workforce training:

According to the 2022 Tessian Security Cultures Report, “security leaders underestimate just how much they should be a part of the employee experience” across onboarding, role changes, offboarding, relocations, and day-to-day activities.

But we’ve repeatedly seen that ad hoc, scattershot employee training attempts don’t work. If you want sufficient internal defenses against sophisticated phishing threats, you should train 100% of your employees monthly.

Granted, it isn’t easy if your team is growing rapidly or spread across different locations and time zones. Yet doing anything less than 100% employee training leaves you with too many security holes and opportunities for hackers to break in. Unfortunately, it also means you have no way of knowing your employees’ level of threat awareness or whether they know how to react to threats. You might be missing your weakest link or getting into a scenario that could have been easily avoided.

2. Apply Continuous Training

Ever been told there’ll be a fire evacuation drill? Likely, you weren’t caught off guard when the practice started and could have paid more attention. That’s the thing about drills; they’re in place to prepare us for present and future threats.

Cybersecurity training is no different. While it can quickly become ticking a compliance box to satisfy minimum requirements. To prevent it, you need to catch your staff off guard. Knowing that a threat could present itself at any time keeps employees vigilant and accountable between more extensive training campaigns.

It would be best if you kept giving your employees these unexpected opportunities to learn on an ongoing basis. They will likely make easily avoidable mistakes if they only receive occasional simulations. You might miss new employees without sufficient cybersecurity training, or it might take time for them to revisit and build on this training.

The solution: Conducting consistent cybersecurity training is the best way to keep it top of mind for everyone—train for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


3. Deploy Adaptive Content

You might use cybersecurity understanding or departments as categories. Start by segmenting your workforce into groups. Then, develop adaptive training based on each group’s needs – and even based on individual behavior. That’s critical to adequately address the challenges of given scenarios of future attack campaigns.

These can include data or password requests, messages from legitimate sources, or realistic content tailored to an organization’s specific role or department.

You strengthen employees‘ defenses by adapting your content to individual responses and specific attack vectors. Doing so turns the human element from a security gap to a security advantage.

4. Localize Your Cybersecurity Training

English might be your corporate language, but it might not be every employee’s mother tongue, and cultural contexts might be perceived differently in some branches.

Using employees’ mother tongue within a location’s cultural context will dramatically enhance their learning retention. By citing local references (such as national holidays, significant news sources, popular social media platforms, and more), you make your simulations more believable and relatable. Your employees will likely pay better attention during training and will be less susceptible to attacks.

Lastly, there could be different implications regarding email compliance standards in different places. Ensure your team is aware of that and incorporate the necessary precautions in these locations’ training.

5. Back Your Cyber Training with Data Science

In our experience, one in every five employees is a „serial clicker.“ Serial clickers click, open, and download attachments that often place them and your organization in danger. They might be a new or existing employee. We’ve seen it all, from entry-level positions to company stakeholders.

They’re not trained or equipped to reliably identify phishing attacks, nor understand how dangerous and their destructive impact. So they keep clicking links in emails that they shouldn’t have opened.

The good news: We believe serial clickers can be cured because we’ve seen it repeatedly happen with employee training and education.

We know that serial clickers are just some of the ones to worry about. Employees respond differently to a variety of attack vectors. It’s recommended to use data science to understand how employee groups within your organization – from new hires, executive leadership, and veteran employees – respond to potential threats.

Once you analyze the data to understand these groups‘ behavior, you can develop programs that shift them toward a more discerning approach to email management based on their specific needs and their current place in their cybersecurity awareness journey.

These programs must include expert knowledge, adjusted frequency, timely reminders, custom simulations, and training content designed for highly susceptible groups while respecting employees‘ privacy.

phishing attacks

Automate Your Cybersecurity Education

Regardless of the size of your organization, the complexity required to run a training program like the one described above can be challenging. Whether you’re looking at it from the perspective of time, resources, or economics, it’s almost impossible without a truly automated solution that has expert knowledge baked into the software.

CybeReady provides a fully-automated platform powered by machine learning technology. It mitigates the risks of human error through an educational approach that continuously provides frequent, adaptive, engaging training. Get in touch today to foster a culture that cares, retains information to keep your organization safe, and feels accountable. Make your organization cyber-ready. Learn how you can upgrade your security awareness program with a short, perosanilized demo.

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