Discover important security awareness trends and best practices for 2022
When it comes to cyber security, 2021 saw cyber attacks increase both in prevalence and complexity across all industries and geographic regions. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), over 80% of businesses were targeted by phishing scams, while on a , 85% of breaches in 2021 involved a human element.
It’s clear that employees are the first and most important line of defense against cyber criminals. Because of this, the strength of an organization’s security awareness training program has become more crucial than ever before.
Creating, maintaining, and growing effective initiatives and a cyber-aware organizational culture must be at the top of cyber security priority lists in 2022. To get there, organizations will need buy-in at the executive level, a clear understanding of quarterly and yearly KPIs, and a strategy to ensure behaviors are changed and goals achieved.
A new calendar year means a slate of opportunities to provide every team member with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to recognize cyber threats, from phishing emails to credential harvesting webpages and beyond. And, if this year’s Gone Phishing Tournament results are any indication, intermittent or inconsistent training won’t contribute to success.
To help your 2022 security awareness training campaigns get off on the right foot, check out this post’s recommendations for crucial program must-haves, as well as trends and best practices to keep your organization’s sensitive information secure at all times.
Security Awareness Training in 2022: Are You Getting the Support You Need?
To paraphrase the reverends Lennon and McCartney, thriving security awareness training is all about getting by with a little help from your friends. And, in this case, “friends” encompasses all departments, teams, groups, and internal decision-makers within your organization. As a security leader, it’s imperative to get as universal a level of buy-in as possible.
While this mission may start with C-suite executives, it doesn’t stop there either. From human resources to your IT and development teams, everyone must have a firm grasp of why security awareness training is vital to its continued growth and success. To stoke those embers of interest, engaging communication is a must.
Follow these three tips on how to get support for a security awareness program:
1. Get executive support. Security awareness training demands that employees be permitted to spend time on learning. To accomplish this, you need C-Suite support.This support translates to training budget, allocating time to employees to complete training modules, and setting the tone at the top of why cyber security is essential.
Action: Show the executive and management team how cyber attacks happen, the potential impacts they can have on sensitive information, and set up a phishing simulation for your management team to preview a hands-on training initiative that can tangibly affect behavior change.
2. Lean on interdepartmental support. Work with key departments such as human resources, legal & compliance, IT, and managers to strengthen your security awareness program further. Give them access to resources such as the Cyber Security Hub and The Human Fix to Human Risk
Action: Demonstrate different modules, including micro- or nanolearning activities, to showcase how little time per day or week it can take to deliver a noticeable return on investment.
3. Communicate clearly and frequently. Effective security awareness programs deploy engaging, informative courses and phishing simulations, but that’s only part of the equation. Leadership must also regularly communicate the training program’s importance using reinforcement tools employees can easily digest.Examples of such tools include an internal newsletter or social posts, information sessions hosted by internal ambassadors or program leaders, and the implementation of gamified structures (e.g., leaderboards) to entice everyone to participate
Action: Get people thinking and talking about security awareness training and ensure all end users understand its importance. Optimize over time and give people messaging that fits your organization’s brand.
Best Practices for Building a 2022 Security Awareness Program
Your organization has unique needs and people, which means your training program needs to be designed to those resulting goals and sensibilities. One-size-fits-all security awareness training – especially those with course content that doesn’t evolve or change to match new cyber threats – can’t hope to match the power of a robust, customizable solution.
These five best practices will go a long way in supporting an effective security awareness program in 2022:
- Double-down on high-quality content. Whether it’s pre-built training campaigns perfect for small-to-medium-sized businesses, or a more elaborate setup geared towards a larger, international employee base, the key ingredient remains high-quality content. Invest in engaging, immersive material that will leave a lasting impression on every end user instead of settling for bland, ineffective alternatives.
- Make time for personalized campaigns. Part of what makes great content stand out are the opportunities for personalization. Whether specific to their role and responsibilities or their region, ensure all employees have access to training relevant to their daily reality. This consideration should include accessibility requirements as well.
- Deploy, Measure, Optimize. Assuming your security awareness training strategy and execution plan is sound to start with, your campaigns should be measured and optimized over time to deliver the best possible results. Consider which end user behaviors you’re targeting for change, how those wants are reflected in practical exercises like phishing simulations, and where your improvement areas are.
Getting Your Employees Interested in Security Awareness Training in 2022
Security awareness training success can hinge on participation, course completion, and the program’s overall perception within a given organization. As a result, motivating everyone internally is a topic that comes up when planning for the upcoming year.
And, even in the face of remote work and the changes organizations have made during the past two years, there are still some simple, easily executable steps security leaders can take to invigorate their initiatives with renewed energy and interest.
Follow these seven steps to engage employees in security awareness training further:
- Explain how certain behaviors and best practices help them in their personal and professional lives. You can also link these to individual or departmental business objectives for added effect.
- Deliver accessible training campaigns that ensure all end users enjoy security awareness content and phishing simulations. Consider the languages, format, and even devices used during training for direction.
- Leverage gamification techniques and internal awareness campaigns to stimulate conversion, get people thinking about what they have learned, and instill a sense of pride and/or friendly competition between employees or departments.
- Collect feedback from your employees on their training experience and find out what they liked and disliked. Once the information has been collected, use those insights to craft clear optimization efforts and highlight how their opinions make a difference.
- Let employees test their knowledge with simulations and gamified scenarios, such as Serious Game modules. These activities should include deep-rooted interactive elements that put end users at the center of the action.
- Give employees continuous feedback on what they have learned and recognize standout security awareness training performers at least once a year. Doing so will help raise the program’s profile and importance internally.
- Empower your employees by making it clear that they have the power to stop cyber attacks and threats. With remote work now the norm, this level of understanding is a critical component of every employee’s workday.
How to Build a Modern Security Awareness Program (and, Yes, Remote Work)
Many organizations have now shifted their attendance policies to remote or remote-hybrid models. With this freedom for end users comes an urgent need to communicate and even forecast cyber threat trends and ensure all team members have essential knowledge at their disposal.
If it doesn’t include these already, your 2022 security awareness training campaigns must focus on topics like:
- Confidentiality on the internet
- Protecting your home computer
- Smartphone and mobile device security
- Working securely outside the office
- Reporting incidents
- Privacy and password best practices
- Protecting sensitive information
- Home and/or remote Wi-Fi security
In addition, these best practices for remote work should be kept top of mind across your entire organization. These can be reinforced through communication tools, more complex phishing simulations, and more:
- Use a VPN to connect to the network when performing work-related duties.
- Don’t perform non-work tasks using your work computer. Do not share work data and information with your home computer or personal devices.
- Ensure your work device(s) are updated with the latest applications, operating systems, network tools, and internal software.
- Do not 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, always ask your manager.
- Create secure, unique passwords, pay attention to where you enter them, and do not save that information on multiple systems.
- Remember essential cyber security best practices. Remain vigilant and skeptical of all unsolicited emails, text messages, social media chats, and attachments. When in doubt, don’t click on links or attachments.
- Turn off Bluetooth auto-discovery on all mobile devices.
- Never connect to a public Wi-Fi network that is not password-protected.
- Even when working at home, please do not leave your laptop unlocked and unattended, securely store any printed documents (do not leave them on your desk), and always be click aware.
Your end users are the most important line of defense against cyber attacks and threats. To support them and safeguard sensitive information in 2022, make sure your security awareness training program is operating at peak efficiency, fuelled by high-quality content and real-world testing exercises like phishing simulations.
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