A Definitive Guide

Effective security awareness training empowers users to become cyber heroes. Learn how this cyber security investment helps keep sensitive information safe and reduces related risk.

What is Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness training is a type of cyber security education that gives an organization’s end users the knowledge they need to protect confidential information from cyber criminals. In this case, the term “end users” can encompass both full- and part-time employees, freelance contractors, and any other individuals who share, store, edit, or access organizational data.

Security awareness training courses and topics must support an organization’s overall cyber security objectives by changing specific user behaviors that may amplify risk. These behaviors can include clicking on a link or entering sensitive information in a suspicious webpage form.

The best security awareness training programs leverage real-world phishing simulations and other web-based communication and reinforcement tools. Working in concert with educational training modules, they ensure users can recognize cyber threats and tactics related to phishing, spear phishing, ransomware, malware, social engineering, and more.

Why is Security Awareness Training Needed?

Technology alone doesn’t provide your organization with foolproof protection from cyber attacks and data breaches. Security awareness training courses, programs, and campaigns help educate users and empower them to detect and avoid common cyber threats consistently. In short, a human-centric cyber security approach is the best defense against cyber criminals.

Security awareness training also cultivates a strong security-aware mindset and culture that prioritizes the protection of sensitive information. Once this mindset becomes second nature, security leaders can feel confident that their team can easily adapt to the ever-changing, complex world of cyber threats.

Many organizations also require security awareness training to comply with industrial or regional regulations, including (but not limited to) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Initiative (PCI). While training on these and other regulations isn’t required for small-to-medium-sized enterprises, it can boost revenue and public image through a public commitment to information security.


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Is Security Awareness Training Effective?

Not all security awareness training programs are created equal. The elements of any given campaign or initiative will depend heavily on an organization’s cyber security needs and goals, as well as which user behaviors they’re looking to change over a period. Security awareness training must be tailored to those variables to be effective.

This reality means organizations need to establish a clear strategy and rollout plan for a security awareness training program. Doing so will enable leadership to build campaigns.

Fortra's Terranova Security recommends leveraging dynamic, multifaceted content in various formats to create a diverse, inclusive, and engaging training program. Successful security awareness training programs are also fun for users, often introducing a gamified structure and content modules to appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of end users.

According to 2020 Gone Phishing Tournament simulation results, 1 in every 5 users may click on a phishing email link and potentially compromise sensitive data. This statistic further underscores the importance of transforming your users into cyber heroes.



Regarding training, we think that the catalog should be large, diverse, interactive, inclusive, accessible and localized.
Terranova Security catalog meets all those requirements, which is why we partnered with them.
- Brandon Koeller, Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft

How Does Security Awareness Training Reduce User Risk?

The most effective way to reduce cyber security risk within your organization is to address the human link in that chain. Organizations can accomplish this by constructing security awareness training programs that proactively work to change specific user behaviors. By understanding its needs through thorough baseline testing and planning, organizations can maximize their return on investment.

Teaching end users about cyber threats that take advantage of certain behaviors mean, if the course and supporting the campaign are successful, they’ll be better equipped to protect sensitive information. Reinforcing this knowledge through phishing simulations, communication tools, and just-in-time training ensures the learning process is a continuous, growth-oriented experience.

The more a security awareness training program is aligned with proven pedagogical learning techniques, such as the Terranova Security 5-step framework, the more likely it is to attain its behavior change objectives. The initiatives must be ongoing as well, with optimizations made along the way to help the training program evolve alongside its end users and the cyber security landscape at large.


Your Definitive Guide to Security Awareness

Learn everything you need to know about successful, inclusive training programs, from the role of high-quality content to the proven solution behind dealing with human risk. All the answers are just a download away.

How to Build a Successful Security Awareness Training Program

The human element of cyber security is always your most important line of defense when it comes to protecting sensitive data from phishing attacks and other cyber threats. Your training program must include several critical components to ensure your organization is working to change the right user behaviors and reduce related risks.

Baseline phishing test

To accurately gauge your end users’ cyber security knowledge base, perform an initial baseline phishing test. The results of this exercise will provide your security leaders with the intel they need to create a focused security awareness training strategy.

Expert planning and executive support

Before launching any awareness training initiatives, it’s vital to get unilateral executive support. This process can be made much easier by leveraging informed security awareness training opinions from industry experts, like in-house Terranova Security CISO resources.

Engaging, multilingual training content

To maximize your security awareness training program’s ROI, the content you use must be engaging, informative, and, above all else, a pleasurable learning experience for end users. To achieve this, 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 way to safely expose employees to real-world threats and put their cyber security knowledge into practice. For these reasons, phishing simulations are a key ingredient for security awareness training success. They can also allow your organization to assess awareness training content effectiveness and ensure you’re enacting positive 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 concerning your security awareness training program is quick and 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.

How to Get Executive Support for Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training is a booming domain of the cyber security industry for a reason. With various compliance standards to adhere to and severe cyber threats making headlines worldwide, understanding how to protect sensitive information can save businesses thousands or even millions of dollars.

And yet, training program leaders and administrators still get push-back from executive-level management. Some individuals or groups may question the necessity of launching a security awareness training program or voice skepticism around the ROI for the organization.

That said, getting critical executive buy-in for awareness training initiatives doesn’t have to be a struggle or contentious process. Address concerns and demonstrate value by using the following techniques.

Understand leadership and end user concerns

Cyber security professionals and other in-organization ambassadors will have a high level of knowledge around the importance of information security. However, that doesn’t mean business leaders from other departments or sectors and end users outside of the security or IT spheres will understand or care as much about the topic and solution.

As a result, different concerns will arise from various stakeholders. Many will hinge on answers to “why” questions, such as (but not limited to):

  • Why do we need this type of training?
  • Why don’t we invest more money in the technical side?
  • Why should we sacrifice employee productivity?

It’s crucial to treat these concerns as valid questions and invest genuine time and interest in responding to them, either during in-person meetings or through documentation. Whichever method you choose, leaders and end users must have their voices heard to feel fully engaged.

Connect security awareness training to business outcomes

Once you understand where other stakeholders and participants are coming from, you can better demonstrate your training program’s value to the organization at large. To accomplish this, tying positive awareness training return on investment to outcomes benefitting the entire business is paramount.

Security leaders can capture executive attention by repositioning security awareness training as a conduit to:

  • Increased productivity due to less downtime and resources spent addressing data breaches
  • Decreased costs related to data leakage and other incidents where sensitive information may have been compromised
  • A reputational boost for your brand in the eyes of a worldwide consumer base that takes data privacy and security more seriously than ever
  • More knowledgeable, confident end users who will feel empowered to detect and avoid common cyber threats
  • Enhanced profitability over time when combining the above factors over a multi-year span

Whether you’re using real-world events, industry news and trends, or internal or external analytics to reinforce your point, the question security leaders must answer is simple: How will security awareness training benefit the organization as a whole? With clear, concise answers to those questions, leadership’s attention will be piqued.



Recognized as a representative vendor in 2021 Market Guide for Security Awareness Computer-Based Training


Security Awareness Training for Remote Workers and Remote-Hybrid Teams

For many organizations, accelerated digital transformation has meant the implementation of a remote or remote-hybrid workforce. However, while working outside an office environment offers greater convenience for many employees and can boost productivity, securing sensitive information has also become far more challenging.

Security leaders must account for various devices (including personal smartphones or computers), platforms, online accounts, networks, and other system components. Under these circumstances, even the best cyber security technical infrastructures can become strained. Therefore, employees must be complete daily tasks in a cyber-secure manner.

Providing end users with security awareness training that teaches them best practices for cyber-secure remote work is a critical ingredient to changing behaviors, reducing risk, and maximizing productivity. Some fundamentals to explore in a security awareness training course related to working remotely can include:

  • How to access, share, and store cloud-based information safely
  • How to secure your home or remote Wi-Fi connection
  • How to create strong, unique password for online accounts
  • How to enable two-factor authentication for added account security
  • How to create or attend a video conference securely

For additional end user tips and best practices for cyber-secure remote work, visit the Cyber Security Hub on the Terranova Security website.

The World’s Best Security Awareness Training Course Content

Our diverse content library is continually updated to ensure that your users can enjoy training that’s current, easy to understand, and backed by the industry’s most respected experts. Join millions of cyber heroes globally who leverage high-quality content to boost user participation rates, improve knowledge retention, and promote a security-first culture.


Security Awareness Essentials

Enables users to master important information security basics, defend against common cyber threats, and keep their data safe.


Training for End Users

Offers a core curriculum that provides users with a comprehensive security awareness training experience.


Training for Managers and Executives

Explores a manager or executive’s roles and responsibilities in observing security awareness best practices.


Training for IT Administrators and IT Developers

This course focuses on security awareness training for information technology professionals like IT administrators and developers. It outlines essential cyber security best practices for networks, databases, and more.


Train Users in Minutes with Microlearning and Nanolearning

Only have a few minutes to devote to security awareness training? We’ve got you covered.

The microlearning and nanolearning content are designed to convey important cyber security subject matter in digestible portions that take just minutes to complete. To find out what kind of content is right for your organization, watch the webcast "Choosing The Right Security Awareness Training Format".

Innovative Nanovideo Training Options

Provide just-in-time training on a specific phishing behavior with nanovideo modules. Empower your employees with clear, concise feedback that can function as either quick training for users who exhibited a phishing behavior, or as standalone videos for your intranet or internal social media.


Boost Engagement with Immersive Communication Tools

Increase employee engagement with a diverse suite of communication tools, with new assets added regularly.

PostersPromote your training program with visuals you can tailor to match your brand.
NewslettersSend training updates and security best practice highlights directly to your users.
Wallpapers and web bannersIncrease program engagement with vivid, thought-provoking digital messaging.
VideosReinforce key awareness concepts and skills through stylish visual storytelling.
InfographicsTranslate cyber security concepts into fun, concise infographics that are instantly shareable across any internal communication platform.

Powerful, Scalable Security Awareness Training

Invest in a comprehensive, accessible training solution that benefits all your users. Deploy completely customizable training courses and programs with content and simulations with a proven track record of globalized success.


End-to-end customization

Go beyond a one-size-fits-all training experience with customizable security awareness training courses and phishing simulations. Personalize every aspect of your learning environment to support your organization’s needs and goals.


Multilingual Training Support

Provide users with multilingual training content that supports over 40 languages. Build an inclusive, accessible environment that enables every user to absorb important cyber security information in their preferred language.


Engaging, gamified learning

Gamified security awareness training is the gateway to a science-based approach to behavior change. Engage and motivate users with proven gamification techniques like interactive drag-and-drop exercises, quizzes, and more.


Diverse, inclusive training

Accessibility isn’t an option – it’s a responsibility that affects everyone in your organization, regardless of role. Implement a training program that embraces diversity and ensures that everyone can deepen their security awareness knowledge.


Mobile responsive modules

Give users the freedom to complete their security awareness training on any mobile device. Deploy flexible, omnichannel training that leverages mobile learning techniques to deliver an engaging experience.


Customizable quizzes

Test user knowledge retention with customizable quiz options for all security awareness training programs. Choose from a bank of pre-configured questions designed by in-house cyber security experts or insert your own to ensure your quizzes meet your specific needs.

Structured, Data-Driven Security Awareness Success

Our customizable training programs take a multi-layered approach that perfectly combines the conceptual with the practical. Starting with foundational knowledge modules, users also benefit from targeted microlearning and phishing simulations. Take advantage of our data-driven insights and expert guidance to boost your program’s long-term effectiveness.


Build a Thriving Security Awareness Training Program with Terranova Security Professional Services

Take the guesswork out of implementing, managing, and optimizing your security awareness training program with our managed services option. Our knowledgeable, friendly, supportive staff will make sure that your training initiatives are successful.

CISO Advisory Services

With over 20 years of industry experience, in-house CISO Advisory Services can help you plan and optimize every part of your security awareness training program.

Managed Services

Work with a dedicated, knowledgeable, and supportive team to deploy and manage all aspects of your security awareness training program, and ensure you attain your security awareness goals.

Customization Services

Quickly and easily customize both branding parameters and content, benefit from extended customization levels, and tailor them to your organization’s reality.