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Developing Effective Security Engagement

Security engagement

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Engagement is critical in building better security behaviour, but how do you keep employees interested in security? Security Awareness Training works best if an organisation can achieve the same levels of engagement as seen when people talk about their favourite show or football team.

More than ever, promoting employee security engagement is vital to protect data. Here are some further details about security engagement, how it relates to Security Awareness Training, how to encourage staff to use engaging security content, and how positive engagement builds a culture of security.

Security Engagement vs Security Awareness

Security Awareness Training is used to educate employees about fraudsters and cybercriminals’ various tactics and techniques. Awareness training uses many techniques to train employees across the entire workplace. Multiple components make up a security Awareness Training program. These modules include:

  • eLearning packages: online training that educates employees on specific scams and attacks.
  • Simulated phishing exercises: spoof phishing messages, typically delivered by a cloud-based platform, are sent out to employees to teach them how to spot phishing tricks.
  • Bitesize quizzes and videos: short, often gamified, quizzes that can help assess an employee’s understanding.
  • Focus training events: education on areas as diverse as password security and data privacy expectations.

Security Awareness Training is a comprehensive attempt at ensuring staff are tuned in to data security and scams. However, unless the training engages at the individual level, it is unlikely to be effective. Engagement happens when communication is fluid and relatable. In other words, the same social interactions that promote strong relationships also encourage learning. Various engagement techniques are used alongside Security Awareness Training to cement learning; engagement is an intrinsic part of effective Security Awareness Training.

Steps to Spur Cyber Security Engagement

Security engagement happens when an individual feels a connection with the training program. There are a few core principles that keep employees engaged during security Awareness Training:

Top-down engagement

People feel connected when everyone is involved. Senior staff members generally have an influential voice in an organisation, which can help engage others. Ensure that all staff members, including those at the board level, are included in security awareness training and understand its purpose. Encourage senior staff members to engage with other staff during training sessions or promote the positive outcomes of education in cyber security.


Clear communication is used to cement relationships and build engagement. Communicate well to influence your staff. Talk to staff about their role in the company and what their typical day entails. Where are the pressure points? What security knowledge do they feel they lack? Collecting this type of feedback can help you to better tailor training, and create engaging, relatable modules.

Make Security Training Relatable with security engagement

Forcing any training that seems pointless will not go down well. Employees tend to rebel if they think their work time is being wasted: relevance engenders engagement, so make your security training courses relatable.

Make security training fun

Someone having fun stays engaged for longer, and people learn best when they are happy and positive. As a result, many security training services now offer gamified security training exercises. This creates a happy and fun environment where lessons learned stick in people’s minds.

Remove the fear

2022 Cisco threat trends report found that at least one person in 86% of organisations will click a phishing link. This insecure behaviour is hard to change, and instilling fear is not enough to make that change. Instead of fear, engage employees in decisions on security by involving them in security policy development. Ask employees about their view of security controls before you enforce their use. Security issues often occur when people circumvent ill-thought-out rules or have rules enforced that interfere with their normal working patterns. Work with staff to understand the best way to decide upon and implement security controls.

Carrot, not stick

Incentivise and reward staff when working with them on security training exercises. Negative reinforcement is rarely successful. People work best when they are encouraged through positive feedback and by rewarding positive behaviour. There are many ways to make a security awareness challenge rewarding. Ideas include small prizes such as a coffee and cake award for best-simulated phishing results. Also, Cyber Security Awareness Month also happens every October and often has tips on using carrots instead of sticks to keep employees engaged.

Keep on engaging

Security awareness knowledge, like any other education, can be lost over time. Therefore, security engagement must use a principle of continuous input: carry out regular training sessions with staff to keep them up to date with the latest cyber-threats and keep them engaged using the other techniques on our list.

How Security Engagement Is Changing Employee Security Awareness Training

The era of classroom-based, uninspiring security training is long gone. Instead, the new generation of security training is about security engagement. Engaging and stimulating employees during security awareness training sessions results in focused attention and better results. This attention facilitates better learning conditions and promotes positive security behaviour by staff.

One of the ways that this positive behaviour can be encouraged is through threat awareness training. Simulated phishing platforms, for example, helps keep awareness at the forefront of people’s minds. Simulated phishing is interactive, and advanced simulated phishing platforms allow a high degree of personalisation. This tailoring of spoof phishing messages makes the training more relatable and memorable. Advanced platforms will allow tailoring to reflect employees’ roles, department specifics, and native language. Phishing simulation emails will also adjust to the security skill level of the individual as they become more adept at spotting a phishing attack. 

Another important aspect of engagement is making employees part of the end-to-end approach to securing your company and its data. By engaging employees in every aspect of a security strategy, from policy creation to security training to incident reporting, you are more likely to develop that all-important security culture.

Security engagement will also result in better outcomes that can be measured and proven using security awareness metrics.

Cultivating a Cyber Security Culture

An engaged audience is an active audience. Employees who are part of an organisation’s broader cybersecurity culture are more likely to use positive security behaviour. This is because cultural expectations encourage and engender conformism and behavioural norms. Through effective security engagement, your organisation will build a robust culture where security is front of mind. The result will be reduced cyber risk and better employee morale.

Developing Effective Security Engagement

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