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How to Get Employees to Take Security Awareness Training Seriously

Security Awareness Training

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Security Awareness Training, let’s face it, can be dry and unappealing if not done well. A bad training session can be off-putting, with employees bored and unable to appreciate the issues caused by cyber security attacks. However, security awareness for employees is a must-have in an era when attackers use human behaviour to execute their attacks. When a company develops a security awareness programme, they are taking on a critical area of modern business – tackling cyber security threats. But making that programme a success depends on engaging employees on the serious nature of cyber security threats to a business.  

Ideas for Ensuring that Security Awareness Training is Taken Seriously

Cybercriminals set out to take full advantage of human behaviour. Consequently, security awareness programmes also need to use human behaviour as a foundation to engage staff so that they take their training more seriously. Here are a few tips to make sure your Security Awareness Training is a success:

Empower Employees on Cyber Security Matters with Easy Incident Reporting

Researchers, Dupuis and Renaud, have shown that ‘Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” (FUD) can be off-putting and ineffective in changing employee security behaviour. FUD can even be counterproductive as a tactic in Security Awareness Training, causing anxiety in employees. Fear should not be the driver in an organisation, at any level. Instead of scaring employees, reward positive security behaviour and encourage easy, seamless reporting of security incidents. A security incident reporting system, that enables fast and easy reporting of security concerns, can empower employees and release the fear factor. “Click and Report” systems change behaviour by making things simple and positive. A reporting system that is integrated into a company process of report-triage-escalate-respond, becomes an enabler in the extended security culture of an organisation, making an employee central to that culture.

Make Cyber Security Integral, Personal and Cultural

Individuals are the target of cybercriminals. Whilst the fraudster may be looking to steal large amounts of personal data or to hack a corporate IT system, they begin at the individual level. Phishing, spear-phishing and social engineering are all tactics that place the employee centre stage in a cyber attack. Without input from a targeted individual, many cyber attacks would fall flat. In the same way that cybercriminals target individuals, Security Awareness Training should be targeted and personalised.

Security Awareness Training is more successful if it is personalised: people respond more positively to something they can relate to. Behavioural models, such as behavioural ecology, offer insights into human behaviour that can be applied to make Security Awareness Training a success. Ensure that your training is based on an employee’s typical work profile, tasks and level of risk. A personalised programme will help to develop a more integrated culture of security that bridges different roles within an organisation. Game-based Learning Theory has identified ‘experiential’ games, e.g. role-playing and experience-relevant, as being more successful for learning. If an employee is more receptive to learning, they will see the serious nature of cyber security threats without the need to use negative, fear-based lessons.

Make Security Awareness Training a Team Sport

Research into areas such as social cognitive theory has found links between human learning and behaviour that are impacted by social environments, including the reactions and approval of others. Security awareness games can be the basis of a positive learning experience. Try creating teams of employees that act together to thwart cyber attack methods. The team environment can help to encourage learning and demonstrate to staff the serious nature of cyber security threats against the organisation. 

Make Security Awareness Training Part of an Ongoing Company Culture

Research from analyst Forrester, suggests that successful Security Awareness Training must be user-centric and focus on changing behaviours. Go beyond creating a culture of security to imbuing security into your general company culture by using security awareness campaign automation. Automated awareness campaign solutions can be employed to create and manage effective, ongoing, cyber security training campaigns. By using automation to deliver Security Awareness Training, you make it part of an embedded system delivered across your organisation. Automation makes delivery and fine-tuning of security awareness easier and embeds security culture into company culture, making it an important part of an employee’s remit, and not just an afterthought. By making security an integral part of your organisation’s expectations of employee behaviour, good security behaviour is then confirmed as an important and recognised part of your organisation.

Changing Long-held Security Habits is a Serious Business

The key to a cyber-safe company is the engagement of its staff in helping to mitigate cyber threats. Making staff security aware means changing often long-held habits. To do so requires the engagement and understanding of staff of the importance of security training in the success of the organisation. Metrics and feedback can be a benefit in replaying the success and seriousness of security training programmes. Metrics are useful both for employees to see progress and for your organisation to adjust programmes to improve their success rate. If your organisation deploys an automated awareness campaign solution, this system will also be able to maintain an audit of your organisation’s use of Security Awareness Training, providing an important resource to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

Security threats are serious, the statistics prove that. But fear does not motivate employees or make them realise the implications of their actions. A well-thought-out, managed and ongoing Security Awareness Training programme, that engages employees in a company ethos, will make employees take security seriously. 

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