With the UK coming top in the cybercrime density charts, at 4,783 victims per million people, companies need to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect the organisation.
One of the most powerful ways to prove that Security Awareness Training works is when the program results show positive progress. If your Security Awareness Training results could improve, you must understand why.
Optimising your Security Awareness Training is critical as cyber threats continue to become complex and challenging. Here are five reasons why your security education may be failing to deliver:
#1 A Lack of Motivating Content
Boredom is the enemy of learning; planning is crucial in creating motivating and inspiring Security Awareness Training campaigns. Using “interrelated activities” and engaging content is a best practice in adult learning and should be used to enhance learning experiences.
A security awareness program must be designed to reflect real-world experiences to engage employees. If training is uninspiring and unrelatable, it may turn trainees off and be seen as boring. A bored audience will not retain information, and poor security behaviour will remain an issue.
Plan to design a security training campaign that engages your audience at an emotional level and addresses specific risky behaviour, for example:
Role-based training: use role-based simulated phishing campaigns that test employees’ responses to threats a particular department is likely to experience.
Interactive content: use training materials that offer interactive experiences and include point-of-need learning; this gives advice to learners during a session and points out where they have gone wrong, what could occur, and how to prevent the action in future.
#2 A Tick-Box Mentality
Regulations may provide a box to tick regarding compliance but ticking this box does not produce effective training outcomes. If you deliver a Security Awareness Training campaign with the mindset to tick the compliance box, you are unlikely to get good results. Security Awareness Training is ultimately about human experience and social interactions.
Instead of performing Security Awareness Training for compliance reasons only, create a well-thought-out interactive and engaging program of events. Build training sessions that reflect your employee base that is roles-based, builds upon the knowledge, and present learning opportunities that stick.
To help establish a comprehensive and regular training program, automate your Security Awareness Training campaign to ensure that learning happens throughout the calendar. Automated Security Awareness Training provides a framework for engaging and ongoing content that drives positive security behaviour.
#3 The Training Does Not Focus on Behaviour
Security Awareness Training must deal with deep-seated behaviours exploited by cybercriminals to manipulate your employees. Unfortunately, the technologies we use daily in our workplace are part of this manipulation, with phishing emails still the favourite tool of cybercriminals, according to IBM’s Threat Intelligence Index 2022.
But changing behaviour is difficult; don’t expect Security Awareness Training to take effect overnight. Education into how scammers manipulate people requires a concerted effort, using campaign content that is designed to focus on changing poor security behaviour. Use behaviour-based security training content, such as interactive videos, to achieve better results from your training programs. These behaviour-driven programs recognise risky behaviours and use these to develop the training needs of the individual, building upon knowledge over time.
The campaign design should be based on known and expected risks at a granular, roles-based, and departmental level. The behaviours that propagate these risks, such as clicking on a phishing link, can be addressed using specialist training programs, such as simulated phishing.
#4 You Don’t Know If Your Employees Understand the Training
One of the most important aspects of learning is judging individual development and understanding. If your organisation experiences a lack of progress in some or all employees’ security behaviour, then you must find out why those employees fail to learn from the content. With the correct type of measurement data, you will be able to adjust the security awareness program to make it more effective.
When running security awareness campaigns, use built-in analytics and reporting to generate metrics for review. Many advanced security awareness systems, including simulated phishing platforms, will provide mechanisms to collect metrics on a per-individual or department basis. Use these metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of different aspects of your training. For example, you may find that specific topics, or how they are presented, are less effective in changing behaviour.
Design your security awareness campaigns to collect metrics based on the risks and behaviours you want to address. Regarding top risks, phishing link click rate is a good place to start, as the metrics are collected during phishing simulations. As you collect data on susceptibility to clicking a phishing link, adjust the campaigns to ensure that point-of-learning is used to address problem points. Keep measuring the click rate, adjusting as you go, until you see a reduction in phishing link clicks. This iterative adjustment strategy should be repeated for other poor behaviours, such as password reuse.
Security Awareness Training metrics also help to evaluate the program as a whole and provide a way to show leadership the importance of security training. Strategic metric analysis should align with areas such as the number of incidents, the cost of a breach, and policy and regulatory violations. Advanced security awareness platforms will generate comprehensive reports and visuals to show your management team.
#5 A Community Spirit is Lacking
There is much talk in Security Awareness Training circles about developing a culture of security. This is for a good reason. A culture where security is taken seriously results in a better security posture.
A lack of community spirit concerning security has dire results: a recent report shows 61% of employees would not report a security incident. This can mean that tackling breaches and preventing continued security issues is more complicated.
By fostering a combined effort towards securing an organisation, your employees are more likely to feel a general responsibility to keep the workplace safe. A culture of security comes about when security awareness programs are successful. An effective program of education in security matters empowers employees with knowledge and changes poor security behaviour to positive actions that stop cybercrime.
With everyone pulling together, a culture of positive security attitudes develops and the culture of security forms. When addressed, the four reasons above help build the foundation for this security-aware culture. The result will be reduced cyber attacks and adherence to regulations.
As you prepare and roll out your Security Awareness Training in 2023, check that you are following best practices to achieve the best results.