Why is Security Awareness Training Important?
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
What Is Security Awareness Training?
Ah, the age-old question of what came first, the chicken or the egg? In order to start understanding why Security Awareness Training (SAT) is important, we need to start with what it is.
In its essence, SAT is an organisation-wide initiative, implemented to help employees identify and avoid real-life cyber-threats at home but also in the workplace. SAT should be viewed as a continual learning process, and reinforcement is essential to building a cyber-secure workplace. This is the exact philosophy we have adopted at GoldPhish, through utilising our various mediums of content whether it be interactive quizzes, educational videos, or informative longer-form modules, we believe that a combination of all of these mediums will reinforce cyber security and keep this front of mind.
Now that we understand what Security Awareness Training is, let's look at why organisations need training.
Why Do Organisations Need Security Awareness Training?
Cyber threats are constantly evolving and their cost and impact continue to rise each year. According to CybSafe, data breaches cost UK organisations an average of £2.9 million per breach. A study done by Verizon found that 82% of breaches involve a human element.
As companies begin to implement and improve technical security controls to keep the threat actors at the door - the hackers are realising that targeting the humans in an organisation is a much easier route to the crown jewels.
A strong Security Awareness Training programme for educating the workforce, from the Intern to the CEO, is now recognised as a fundamental security control for minimising losses. Employees able to understand the threat, identify and report suspicious activity, and behave securely when online and in the office will be a key asset to an organisation's overall security.
Why Is Online Training Important?
The simple answer is that it’s flexible. Studying online teaches you vital time management skills, which makes finding a good work-study balance easier. Not only is it flexible, but it is commonly known that our attention spans are much shorter than they used to be.
Online training provides participants with the opportunity to progress through the training at their own pace. More importantly, in-person training does not allow management to report on the progress of participants. The reason for online training becoming a fundamental part of SAT is the element of transparency and a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the current training.
Luckily for you, we have integrated this into the GoldPhish platform. We allow managers to have complete control over their training campaigns and pull real-time reports of the ongoing training.
What Are the Benefits of Security Awareness Training?
Let’s look at the other side of the coin. We have covered why online training is important, let us cover what are the specific benefits when it comes to SAT.
Not only is mitigating human error a major benefit, but here are several other benefits of SAT:
Prevent data breaches and phishing attacks
Starting with the most obvious, security awareness training helps prevent breaches. Equipping employees with the knowledge to be able to identify and report a phishing email or attack, will go a mile in improving the organisation’s security.
Build a cyber-secure workplace
Developing a culture of security has long been seen as the holy grail for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs). With the help of SAT, more organisations are heading in the right direction. Creating a culture of security means building security values into the fabric of your business. Training that covers situational awareness (why someone might be at risk) plus work and home-life benefits is a good way to bring people on board. Advanced training platforms can help monitor and develop a culture of security, making people your first line of defence against social engineering attacks.
Make more robust technological defences against cyber threats
Without SAT and cyber security education, technological defences can't fulfil their potential. Attackers today rarely bother trying to attack businesses through technological means only. Today’s attackers typically target people, as they are seen as an easy way into protected networks.
As the cyber insurance landscape is shifting, so are the regulations regarding compliance and SAT. It is therefore mandatory to implement SAT for regulatory purposes. However, SAT should not be implemented solely to comply with regulations. Compliance can be a happy by-product of security awareness training. Introducing the right training content makes your organisation more secure as well as the rest of the ‘ecosystem’.
Improve employee wellbeing
SAT doesn’t just keep people safe at work. It keeps them safe from cyber security threats, phishing, and social engineering in their personal life, too. This translates to safer families, children, and households. Remember, if SAT does what it’s supposed to do in threat prevention, it isn’t just an employer benefit. It’s an employee benefit, too.
What Should a Strong Security Awareness Training Programme Include?
Training content should be as interesting and engaging as possible. Bite-size e-learning experiences are extremely effective in raising awareness on a particular topic. Content needs to be simple, digestible, and jargon-free. Here is a list of key subjects we believe should be covered.
Security Awareness Training is "security marketing". When trying to change end-user behaviours and build a secure culture organisations need to adopt a marketing style approach using strong communications, regular training campaigns, and constant feedback. Key subjects should be reinforced on a regular basis to keep security front of mind.
Simulated phishing campaigns
Utilise tools such as simulated attacks like phishing, evaluations, and assessments to evaluate enterprise workforce to follow best practices in cybersecurity.
Measuring and reporting workers
Identify weaknesses, and flaws in the current programmes and update them for effectiveness.
Best Practices for Delivering An Effective SAT Training Programme:
In order to deliver effective SAT training, multiple factors need to be taken into account. In order to effectively deliver SAT training, organisations will need to begin by defining their programme’s goals and scope of policy, along with garnering organisational buy-in.
End-users, and employees, must be taught not only how to recognize social engineering and phishing threats, but also how to treat them and report them. SAT is among the most high-value mitigations any organisation can perform to significantly reduce cyber security risk. The most challenging aspect for many organisations, is to know where to begin when creating these programmes. Knowing who you want to train, and on what, you can now pinpoint how you want to deliver the goods. Part of a solid strategy is considering your information security communication plan and how it will cohabitate with the other goals. You want to engage people. If users are not listening or are not motivated to change behaviours, your programme will fail.
Click on each of the below best practices for building a cyber-savvy culture:
The first step is to engage your audience. You will need to engage your audience on two levels: Organisational The company culture. You can develop a plan and approach in conjunction with senior management and corporate communications that reflect top-down, full support of the security awareness programme initiatives and goals. Work directly with senior leadership & corporate communications to identify opportunities to strengthen the support for security awareness and secure behaviours and habits. (Think all-hands meetings, CEO involvement, etc.) Individual Emphasising that people have lives outside of work and are also subjected to the same types of risks is a great way to engage users. The intent will be to empower users with the ability to make smart, security-driven decisions in their personal lives that nurture secure habits; along with the tools and resources to maintain secure behaviours at work. Giving them the knowledge and skills to protect their family and personal lives is always a big win.
Get leadership buy-in
SAT should not be a project that is only pushed to the employees by the IT department. In order to succeed, the SAT needs endorsement from management throughout the entire process. Getting team leaders and management across your company to promote cyber security awareness training will show your employees that everyone is responsible for creating a secure company. It can also encourage open communication about the training or other topics in cyber security.
Show both the personal and organisational importance of SAT
Everyone cares more about things that could impact them personally. Since personal data breaches can negatively impact both employees and the company, showing your employees what they personally risk from a data breach can make them take the training more seriously. Addressing the personal aspect of data security also trains your employees to regularly practise good cyber hygiene at work and home.
Keep it simple
One of our most important tips for successful SAT is to make the content relatable and easy to understand. Fancy jargon can make employees feel even more distanced from the world of IT security. If they don’t understand what the risks are, they won’t be able to protect themselves or the company from threats. You should explain topics in plain, conversational language.
Give it in small pieces
From passwords to phishing attacks and social engineering, there is so much to learn. In SAT, it is impossible for your employees to cover, digest, and retain all that information at once. That’s why information security training should be given in small pieces, over a long period of time. In order to reinforce cyber security best practices, and keep it front of mind, training should be repeated on a monthly basis.
Provide relevant content
The SAT should be suitable for all employees in all departments. You do not need to explain technical details but simply need to create content that can be understood by all.
Make it interactive
Adding interactive methods is an easy way to keep SAT interesting. For example, you can give your employees a short quiz on the key lessons of a course after the training. The use of quizzes serves many purposes: it keeps your employees engaged in the security training and it gives you a way to measure their learning. Our platform gives a host of interactive, learning experiences which will maximise your employees' engagement and learning.
Convenience is key
SAT is an extra task you are asking your employees to complete. They shouldn’t have to spend time figuring out where to find the training or how to access it.
Use varied learning methods
SAT is an ongoing process. To keep your employees engaged, it’s important to use a variety of learning methods. In addition to small e-learning modules, you can utilise videos, interactive slides, and quizzes to test your employees’ knowledge. Luckily for you, this is all built into our platform.
Provide regular continuous learning
As important as SAT is, the frequency of the training keeps cyber security front of mind. Finding the perfect balance of how often you should train your employees is a key factor for making sure that cyber security best practices are being maintained and through doing so, building a cyber-secure workplace. Many businesses are still utilising ‘traditional’ training best practices in which training only takes place once per year and is often delivered by an instructor in a classroom setting. With over 80% of successful cyber attacks being a result of human error, it is evident that the traditional training method is flawed. This led to a study being conducted by USENIX, where employees initially received security awareness training that was focused on identifying phishing attacks. The study group was asked to identify phishing emails at various stages over a 4-12 month period. The researchers learned that most employees were able to spot phishing emails four months after the training. The employees began to forget what they had learned after six months - meaning that employee training was needed at a minimum of every 4-6 months in order to combat phishing. With that in mind, more and more businesses are finding that monthly security awareness training is the most effective approach for educating all staff on new threats whilst maximising their knowledge retention. The only real way to protect your organisation is to educate, train and reinforce your first line of defence - your employees. In order to ensure that your organisation remains secure, it's wise to invest in employee training in order to develop a cyber-savvy workforce. It is not a matter of if, but when will your organisation be attacked. And when this happens, you’d want your employees to be ready, right? It’s important to do regular phishing campaigns and invest in security awareness training. This keeps your employees up-to-date on the best password habits, what phishing is, and how to stop cyber criminals from exploiting and accessing company-sensitive information.
So, where do we go from here? We develop a cyber-savvy workforce!
GoldPhish educates end-users on the cyber threat and helps build more secure organisations with awareness training and simulated phishing.
Get in touch for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org