With cyber attacks posing a significant threat to businesses, especially to small ones where 60% don’t survive such an incident, the importance of regular and effective cyber security awareness training is more evident than ever.
But what defines “regular?” What makes “effective?”
This article explores the crucial aspect of training frequency. It’s not just about whether your employees undergo security awareness training annually, quarterly, or monthly, but about finding the right balance.
This article provides you with a starting tool and aims to guide you in establishing a cyber security training routine that is both sustainable and effective, ensuring your team stays vigilant without feeling burnt out.
Factors Influencing Training Frequency
The frequency of cyber security training is deeply tied to a variety of factors. Business size and complexity can lead to more frequent training needs simply because large, complex businesses offer more chances for data breaches.
The other main factor is the level of data sensitivity the organization handles. While all customer data should be treated with the utmost care, some industries have to go a few steps further. In certain cases, like in healthcare, there might even be regulatory stipulations around cyber security training.
How Often Should Security Awareness Training Be Conducted?
No matter the size of your company and your industry, your cyber security awareness programs should be reviewed and updated at the very least every quarter. In the process of this review, it’s a good idea to have either a formal test or phishing simulation to get a good baseline of your employees’ skill level.
Ultimately, the frequency of your cyber security training should also be based on the data you collect from the training. Does the staff seem to struggle with certain concepts? Are they often clicking on phishing simulation emails?
If you need to increase your training frequency, there are methods to supplement your existing security awareness training program without disturbing your users’ workflow.
“Many organizations employing a comprehensive cyber security awareness program combine quarterly awareness training activities with monthly touch points featuring short activities, games, and cyber challenges to effectively educate their users about the evolving landscape of cyber security risks.
This multi-layered approach ensures that employees remain informed throughout the year, remain vigilant, and become equipped to proactively address potential threats in today’s evolving threat landscape. It also allows organizations to provide information and adapt based on current events and new threats.”
Theo Zafirakos, CISO, Professional Services Lead at Terranova Security
What’s The Best Way to Deliver Regular Security Awareness Training?
Building a rich cyber security-aware culture can take a while and must be executed with a carefully laid out plan. The most important aspect is keeping employees engaged, which can be challenging with cyber security content.
Additionally, it’s essential to strike the right training balance so your users don’t start seeing them as a chore.
Here are a few tips for devising a cyber security awareness program your employees will enjoy:
Varied media formats
Cyber security training faces a considerable challenge in explaining complex concepts to an audience with extremely varied levels of understanding. This is why it’s crucial to provide a few different learning paths.
While some traditional quizzes are essential to test the learning and gather success data, you can also leverage graphics, photos, and videos to show cyber threats where they happen and to help them practice spotting red flags.
Countering cyber threats like phishing and spoofing relies on users noticing visual cues.
With 3.4 billion phishing emails sent daily, it is one of the most prevalent cyber threats. The hackers launching these attacks are constantly evolving their methods. This situation forces IT departments to continually create new training content, a task that can be nearly impossible without proper data on employee capabilities.
Running phishing simulations is an excellent way to add context to phishing training because it tests employee knowledge while providing security leaders with the data to plan the training further.
It’s also important to note that this tool shouldn’t be used to single out users but rather as a learning experience, whether they click on the phishing link or not.
Micro and nano learning
Cyber security isn’t the most entertaining subject, but there are ways to keep users engaged.
Quick and bite-sized refresher content can provide a fun way to top up on essential knowledge. Research shows short microlearning modules can boost retention rates by at least 80%, minimizing vulnerabilities that could result in a data breach with just a few minutes of content.
Quick, engaging, and fun—it’s security awareness training your end users can easily fit into their workday.
Gamification refers to the integration of learning content with video game-inspired progression elements. Rudimentary point-and-click video games, quizzes, and leaderboards keep learning fun and engaging.
A study found that 83% of employees said gamification makes them feel more motivated for training. Since these modules are completed quickly and provide high knowledge recall rates, they are the perfect touchpoint to introduce employees to new and evolving cyber threats.
Employees Are Your First Line of Defense Against Cyber Attacks
In recent years, cyber security has undergone a massive shift. While the field used to be highly technical and almost entirely focused on software development, the advent of cyber threats like phishing and social engineering has forced cyber security professionals to shift towards training employees to combat cyber attacks.
Modern cyber threats almost exclusively target individual users since they represent the most consistent point of failure. With adequate training, your workforce can become your first and most reliable cyber security measure.
The challenge lies in designing training programs that keep users interested while giving them a sense of the importance of cyber security. This coaching must also be built to consider varying levels of technical skill and different roles.
There are different methods to keeping users engaged while boosting retention, but before you start anything, it’s important to know what you’re working with so you can lay out the most efficient plan for you.