SECURITY AWARENESS TRAINING:
The Definitive Guide

Security awareness training helps organizations worldwide reduce risks related to cyber security, building vital threat resilience, and create a strong security-aware culture.

What is Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness training is the practice of educating employees, contractors, partners, and other stakeholders on how they can safeguard sensitive information from cyber threats. Additionally, this process also informs training participants on how they can keep various systems, networks, online accounts, and other digital assets safe from hackers.

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Why is Security Awareness Training Important?

Security awareness training helps organizations reduce risk related to the human side of cyber security and build a strong security-aware culture across all business units. To achieve this, CISOs and other security leaders construct risk-based awareness training programs that targets unsafe behaviors like clicking on a phishing email link or downloading a malicious attachment.

With a security awareness program in place, organizations strengthen information security and keep sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property (IP), and accesses to confidential accounts, such as bank accounts. Awareness training can also ensure employees comply with industry or regional data privacy regulations, such as GDPR.

As organizations improve their security awareness maturity model, they often see a sharp decrease in cyber security-related costs, as well as a positive impact on their productivity, revenue generation, and brand reputation.

Does Security Awareness Training Work?

Because all cyber attacks are rooted in human behavior manipulation, security awareness training is the most effective tool to safeguard sensitive information from hackers. By giving employees the knowledge needed to detect and report common threats, organizations minimize the possibility of data breaches compromising their data.

That said, effective training is grounded in effective security awareness planning. An organization’s security awareness professionals must establish clear cyber security goals, the metrics they’ll use to measure performance, and actionable strategies to attain or exceed their aspirations. Boosting employees training participation and completion rates must also be considered.

According to the 2021 Gone Phishing Tournament results, one in every five end users click on suspicious phishing message links. Of those who clicked, three-quarters compromised their data. By implementing dynamic security awareness training options, organizations can avoid extended downtime, revenue loss, and other inevitable data breach consequences.

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What Should a Security Awareness Program Include?

he best security awareness solutions combine a variety of different learning activities to deliver an engaging, informative, and fun (yes, work-based training can and should be fun!). Common training program components include (but are not limited to): online courses, quizzes, interactive modules like Serious Games, phishing simulations, and ongoing communication campaigns.

Security awareness program topics will vary based on an organization’s goals and maturity level. However, it’s important to cover a solid spectrum of security awareness fundamentals, such as phishing, social engineering, ransomware, malware, email security, and password best practices. A solid knowledge foundation will improve knowledge retention and phishing simulation performance.

How do You Implement Security Awareness Training?

The goal of security awareness training is about more than meeting compliance standards or ticking corporate mandates off a checklist. Organizations must strive to build vital cyber threat resilience, based on real-world intel, and, using that momentum, foster an internal culture that prioritizes continuous security awareness education.

To get the most out of your training program, you must implement each element carefully and connect it to you an overarching information security vision. For most security awareness teams, a successful implementation will resemble the following process:

Baseline phishing test

To accurately gauge initial end user security awareness, perform an initial baseline phishing simulation test. The results of this exercise will infuse the result security awareness report with the intel needed to craft a focused, risk-based training strategy.

Expert planning and executive support

Before launching any awareness training initiatives, it’s vital to get executive support. This process can be made much easier by leveraging informed opinions based on your baseline security awareness report and industry expertise, such as in-house Terranova Security CISO resources.

Engaging, multilingual training content

To maximize your training program’s ROI, your security awareness content must be engaging, informative, and, above all else, provide a fun learning experience for all participants. Be sure to offer training content in various modules, formats, and languages, which will enable you to benefit from increased participation, reduced risk, and changed behaviors.

Phishing training modules

Every organization needs a safe way to train employees about real-world threats and put their cyber security knowledge into practice. Because of this, phishing simulations are a key ingredient for security awareness success. They can also allow your organization to assess training content effectiveness and ensure you’re always targeting the right behavior change.

Reinforcement tools

To support your awareness training initiatives with consistent, impactful messaging and learning opportunities, reinforcement and communication tools are essential.  From newsletters and infographics to videos, web banners, and more, these assets help keep participation and engagement rates high while also emphasizing key cyber security topics.

Dynamic, real-time reporting

With the proper analytics and reporting infrastructure in place, making data-driven decisions via an in-depth security awareness report or dashboard is easy. By customizing a reporting experience to your organization’s unique needs and goals, you’ll be able to instantly see and synthesize course and simulation results, as well as optimize your program for the long term.

FAQs

How Much Does Security Awareness Training Cost?

Security awareness training is quite budget-friendly and can start as low as $X per end user per year. Relative to the cost of significant downtime or a ransomware payment, investing in security awareness for employees is as important as it is inexpensive.

How Long Does Security Awareness Training Take?

Security awareness programs will vary in length depending on an organization’s goals, resources, and existing maturity level. The most important ingredient for any awareness campaign is content quality. For example, engaging learning modules that are 3-5 minutes in length can significantly augment participation rates and keep critical subject matter top of mind. Stale or boring training content will be ineffective, regardless of how long it lasts.

How Often is Security Awareness Training?

Terranova Security CISOs recommend deploying security awareness training courses on three different topics each quarter, accompanied by at least one phishing simulation during the same timeframe. Over the course of a full year, this model will educate employees on 12 cyber security topics and require them to complete four phishing simulations.

What is the Difference Between Security Awareness and Security Training?

General security awareness refers to an employee or business unit’s ability to spot cyber threat warning signs in their daily activities and, based on an organization’s cyber security or IT policy, act accordingly. Security training is associated with process of acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to strengthen their security awareness levels.

How Do You Promote Security Awareness?

There are plenty of ways security awareness professionals can promote and grow a strong security-first mindset within their organization. These include:

  • Get executive buy-in by tying security awareness activities to business objectives
  • Democratize cyber security by ensuring everyone plays a role in its success
  • Gamify the training experience to further incentivize employee participation
  • Appoint internal ambassadors to increase interest in various training activities
  • Invest in the long-term by gauging performance and optimizing campaigns over time

To know where your security awareness program stands in relation to your goals, investing in customizable dashboards and reporting capabilities is a must. To learn more about how you can implement and grow awareness training analytics, download your free whitepaper on this topic.

What are the Benefits of Security Awareness?

Adopting and growing an effective security awareness solution can deliver a host of benefits to any organization, regardless of industry, size, or region. Some of these advantages include:

  • Less downtime per year for organizational networks and systems
  • Stronger regulatory compliance with various data privacy and security mandates
  • Improved consumer confidence in the brand’s ability to protect their data
  • Time and money saved on cyber security practices and processes
  • A thriving security-aware culture that empowers employees through knowledge

To learn more about how your organization can benefit from building an internal security awareness community, download your copy of our definitive guide now!

Why is Security Important in the Workplace?

Beyond the avoidance of data breaches and confidential information leaks, strong cyber security can minimize operational and employee-related costs. Many organizations see a significant reduction in insurance, liability, and cyber threat compensation expenses. With lower costs, organizations can benefit from major revenue increases over the course of a fiscal year.

Who is Responsible for Security Awareness Training?

An organization’s CISO is normally leading any project related to security awareness training. They work with stakeholders from both within and outside the cyber security or IT department to create information security policies and execute a strategic vision regarding one or several training programs.

The CISO is also responsible for creating an emergency response plan to respond to a data breach.

What is the Most Important Security Awareness Training?

CISOs and other security awareness peers looking to enhance cyber security knowledge throughout their organization must include a generous number of topics in their training programs. Essentials include phishing, social engineering, ransomware, malware, working remotely, and so on.

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Organizations looking to heighten security awareness among employees need to cover a wide variety of security awareness training topics, but social engineering tops the list.