Your employees are your first line of defense against cyber security attacks. The success or failure of your security awareness program depends on the knowledge of every employee in your organization.
As part of your organizational goals and plans for 2023, you must prioritize building a cyber secure and aware culture. This requires an ongoing commitment not just among the average employees, but across every department and individual within your organization.
That means random training sessions or a single quarterly email about phishing aren’t enough to enhance your security outcomes.
To help you embrace 2023 with a cyber secure mindset, we’ve put together our top security awareness training must-haves so you can help keep your employees aware, secure, and protected. But first, let’s look at why building a strong security awareness training program is critical for your success.
The business case for security awareness training
Data breaches are one of the most expensive incidents modern organizations can experience, with research showing that the average global cost of a data breach is $4.35 million.
This high cost means that security leaders, executives and board members need to consider cyber security as a business risk that they and employees have the power and responsibility to address, rather than the sole responsibility of the security team.
After all, executives are a prime target of spear phishing—a highly-targeted phishing attack that aims to trick privileged users into handing over their login credentials. These attacks are so common that one report estimates CEOs and CFOs are almost twice as likely to experience an account takeover as the average employee.
Addressing these threats comes down to embracing a culture of cyber security at every level of the company and ensuring that executives are leading by example and engaging with security awareness training opportunities.
Get the Support You Need to Create a Cyber Aware Culture
Successful security awareness programs all share a common denominator; support across all departments, teams, groups, and decision-makers.
As a CISO or security leader, your role is to get users engaged in security awareness, all the way from other C-Suite executives to Human Resources, the IT department, and every other team lead or manager.
When building a new training program, it’s important to remember that people learn by example. If employees see others in the organization getting behind your security awareness training and engaging with it, they will do the same.
This level of interest and commitment to security awareness needs to happen at every level and in every department.
4 Tips on How to Get Support for a Security Awareness Program
If you want to generate support across your organization for your training program but don’t know how, there are some simple steps you can take:
Get C-Suite Support
Security awareness training requires employees to be allowed to spend time on learning. At the same time, employees need to know that this training is a priority for them and the organization.
To accomplish this, you need C-suite support. This translates to setting aside a training budget, allocating time for employees to complete training modules, and encouraging other decision makers to support employees.
Action: Show the executive and management team how cyber attacks happen and the impact that password theft, data leakage, or ransomware infection can have on the organization. You can also set up a phishing simulation for your management team to test their security awareness and kickstart the conversation on how to develop your organization’s training plans.
Work with key departments such as Human Resources, Legal & Compliance, IT, and managers to build a high-performance security awareness program. Explain to them how cyber attacks happen and why it’s crucial to build a cyber secure culture to stop them.
Action: Use micro- or nano-learning activities to demonstrate that you don’t need to devote lots of time per day or week to deliver effective security awareness training. In fact, short and easily digestible learning content is more effective than longer training sessions.
Know Your Organization
Talk to employees in every department and at every level in the organization and pay close attention to the work habits of your colleagues. Try to establish their level of awareness.
For instance, do they understand the BYOD policy or follow your remote working best practices? Do you know how people communicate with each other and share information? Learn about the objectives, concerns, and culture of the different teams and departments in your organization.
Action: Provide a range of security awareness training and program strategies that address the needs of your employees. Remember that gamified training might not appeal to every user or team on tight schedules.
It takes a team of people to make a security awareness program successful. As a result, it’s essential to communicate with managers, executives, team leads, and other key colleagues and keep them updated on the status and progress of the program.
Action: Ask for input, feedback, and ideas from others within the organization. Get people thinking and talking about security awareness training and sharing what they like and don’t like about training. Listen and give people training that fits.
Best Practices for Building a Security Awareness Program in 2023
No two organizations are the same. Every company has unique needs and people, and this demands a training program that’s tailored to the who, what, why, when, and where of your organization. Most importantly, create a people-centric program that’s designed for your people.
Remember these five best practices for building a security awareness program:
1. High-quality content
People have short attention spans so you’re going to have to earn their attention. Use training materials created by security experts that provide a fun, engaging, and relevant learning experience.
2. Personalized campaigns
Employees need to be able to relate to the training content. Give people content that is specific to their role and responsibilities. Remember to make sure this content is available in their native language and easily accessible.
Look for a security awareness training provider who wants to be your collaborative provider. Choose a company that uses an advisory approach, who’s willing to learn about your organization’s needs and can guide you on creating and implementing your program.
4. Analyze, Plan, Deploy, Measure, Optimize
Success happens when you know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Create a well-defined program with measurable goals designed specifically for your target audience, that includes topics based on your organization’s priority risks.
5. Custom delivery model
Choose a training delivery model that you can easily incorporate into your organization. How you deliver training should depend on the score, size, and personality of your organization. Ask your training provider about self-delivery/management, security awareness-as-a-service, and a hybrid delivery model.
Know How to Get Your Users Interested in Security Awareness
Cyber security starts with your employees. You need to motivate your employees to learn about cyber security threats and risks to help them to engage with your training materials.
Here are 10 steps you can follow to engage employees in your security awareness training:
- Create custom training campaigns based on the risk profile and knowledge level of employees.
- Explain how certain behaviors and best practices enhance their security in both their personal and professional lives.
- Deliver accessible training campaigns that ensure everyone in your organization has the same access to detailed security awareness training.
- Use a range of training types, including eLearning, micro- and nano learning, and gamified training.
- Use awareness campaigns to drive conversions and encourage employees to reflect on what they’ve learned.
- Gather feedback from your employees to review the training and make adjustments based on their comments.
- Give employees a chance to test their knowledge with simulations and gamified scenarios.
- Provide employees with continuous feedback on what they’ve learned.
- Empower your employees by communicating they have the ability to prevent and stop cyber attacks.
- Recognize security-conscious and high-risk behaviors and provide employees with feedback.
How to Stay Cyber Secure When Working Remotely
Cyber threats don’t disappear when you’re working from home, traveling, or connecting to an organization’s network in a coffee shop. If anything, these risks increase when we change our work habits and adjust to a new routine and environment.
To keep your organization protected from the latest threats and cyber criminals, remember these keys to staying cyber secure when working remotely:
- Use a VPN to connect to the network when you need to perform work-related tasks.
- Only work on your work computer. Don’t share your organization’s private information on your home computer or personal devices.
- Ensure your computer has the latest applications, operating systems, network tools, and internal software installed.
- Don’t disable malware protection and anti-spam software on your computer.
- Follow our policies on sharing information. Only use approved cloud-sharing tools. If you’re not sure—ask.
- Secure your passwords, pay attention to where you enter them and do not reuse the same password on multiple systems.
- Remember essential cyber security best practices. Don’t trust links and attachments in emails, text messages and social media chats. When in doubt – don’t click.
- Turn off Bluetooth auto-discovery on all mobile devices.
- Don’t connect to a public Wi-Fi network that isn’t password protected.
- Even when you’re working at home – don’t leave your laptop unlocked and unattended, store printed documents in a secure location, and always be click aware.
Build a Modern Security Awareness Program for 2023
The shift to remote work has put increasing pressure on organizations to provide a learning environment that supports employees when they’re working from home. After all, cyber security best practices don’t stop when people are working remotely or traveling.
Your 2023 security awareness training should focus on supporting users in hybrid working environments. Make sure you have training modules on topics including:
- Confidentiality on the internet
- Protecting your home computer
- Smartphone and mobile device security
- Working remotely and securely
- Reporting incidents
- Privacy and password best practices
- Protecting sensitive information
- Wi-Fi security
- Being security aware
Cyber Security Hub: Access Exclusive Cyber Security Content
You can find security resources to support your employees within our Working From Home Kit in our Cyber Security Hub.