How to develop an effective security awareness training program

How to develop an effective security awareness training program

Many people often assume that cyberattacks are perpetrated by skilled hackers who use malicious software to infiltrate a company’s defenses, but in reality most threats come from within. According to IBM statistics, a whopping 95% of data breaches are caused by human error. This includes the occasional lapse in judgement such as accidentally clicking on suspicious email links, using weak passwords, and forgetting to update security software. Such behavior is often due to poor security awareness and little access to the appropriate resources.

These issues highlight the crucial need for effective cybersecurity training, as the latest tools and software can only go so far. Without workers pulling their weight, businesses are still bound to encounter security mishaps.

To help you mitigate internal security threats, we’ve compiled four tips for a safer and more secure workplace.

Consider cybersecurity a part of risk management

Developing an effective security training program starts with making cybersecurity a part of risk management. This entails establishing desired outcomes, such as reducing the number of phishing incidents, the amount of accidental malware downloads, and the level of resources used to manage and recover from security incidents.

A risk reduction approach also provides clear-cut reasons as to why security training is necessary. This helps in getting all staff members on board, along with justifying the time and financial investment put into building the program.

Make employees care

The next step is to create training materials that emphasize why employees should be more proactive with cybersecurity. Highlight the dangers of poor security awareness, and how building one’s knowledge can help. Be sure to cover how to identify common security issues such as social engineering, malware, ransomware, and spear phishing. Ensure to also align your training with issues specific to your organization, such as matters of compliance, customer data protection, and protection of intellectual property.

Additionally, aim for engaging, creative, and participatory content. Dry presentations of otherwise valuable information are less likely to capture employee interest, compared to gamified training (i.e., generating fake phishing emails each month for workers to spot), multimedia content, and regular office competitions.

Tailor your training to all roles

When designing your training program, be sure to vary your content to suit specific audiences. Those in your sales department may require a different level of security training compared to those in IT, for example.

It can help to group staff according to their business roles, and craft training content suited to their specific needs. You’ll not only address their unique challenges, job responsibilities, and expectations, but also demonstrate your understanding of their day-to-day demands and activities.

Of course, it’s also important to include board members in your training. By turning security awareness into a board-level issue, the initiative is much more likely to gain the attention, priority, and investment it deserves. This can also help foster a corporate culture in which security awareness is consistently valued and encouraged.

Track your progress

In the early stages of development, you must establish your key metrics for training success. This can include the number of people interacting with phishing simulations. Less people interacting with fake phishing emails demonstrates improvement in employee awareness and behavior. Tracking security-related downtime hours is another common metric for measuring program results.

Monitoring this progress highlights the effectiveness of your training over time along with any areas that may need improvement.

Start the year off with better security!
Developing an effective security program starts with having the right technology. InTouch IT specializes in comprehensive security solutions to assist with businesses continuity, compliance, and data protection. Combat the rise of cybercrime by talking with our experts today.


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