5 Essential Steps for Security Awareness Training in 2023

For any business operating in 2023, cyber and information security is a topic which demands serious attention. With the cost of mitigating and responding to threats continuing to rise, as well as the increased risk of non-compliance, addressing human error with effective awareness training is officially essential.

Although this topic can at times seem complicated, below are five essential steps to help you provide better information security awareness training to your employees.

Buy-In

Despite the ever increasing sophistication, frequency and costs associated with dealing with information security threats, only 19% of businesses are testing the cyber security skills of staff (see more in our Top 5 Phishing Trends blog).

One possible explanation for this issue is many organisations view security awareness training as either optional, or as lacking in terms of return on investment (ROI); though this is a flawed way of viewing the problem.

To establish and maintain a secure culture, that is a culture in which security conscious behaviour is the norm, security efforts need the support and buy-in of key individuals. As such, it should be understood by senior management and other internal stakeholders, that rather than generate ROI, information security training protects it.

Similarly, the significance of all individuals' participation should be impressed upon employees from the beginning; and rather than presenting security training as a box-ticking exercise or merely an issue of compliance, it can be more productively seen as both a fundamental element of any role, and as an opportunity to build an ever more valuable life skill.

Choosing Effective Training

Finding the solution which suits your organisation is a step too often overlooked when putting together an information security campaign, and just because a training provider is right for one organisation, doesn't mean it's right for yours.

Depending on the size of your organisation, the sector in which you operate, or even the types of data which you're responsible for processing, finding training which is going to fit your specific needs is a process which shouldn't be rushed.

From experiencing the product first-hand, through a demonstration or proof of concept, to identifying key features which address your specific security requirements, this step of building a security awareness campaign not only helps to ensure efficacy, but also helps in the process of securing funding.

Simulated Phishing

In a recent survey conducted by the UK Government, it was found that phishing remains the most common threat vector facing organisations today.

Facilitating numerous other information security threats, such as malware, credential theft, CEO fraud, and ransomware, phishing is a threat vector which cannot be addressed simply with technical controls (see more in our Anti-Phishing Insights Every CISO Should Know blog).

Providing employees with the basic information necessary to identify phishing attacks is a fundamental element of any information security training, though, it is only by putting these skills into practice that we discover how effective training truly is.

By integrating simulated phishing into security awareness training, an organisation can identify both individuals and departments in need of further training and assistance, whilst also gathering valuable information about their overall ability to defend against this dangerous and all too common cyber threat.

Persistence

We've all heard the phrase "you lose what you don't use", and just like any ability, when information security skills aren't exercised, they unfortunately fade.

Although providing a level of training during the onboarding process is going to be better than nothing, for employees to truly learn and maintain security compliant behaviours, it is essential that training remains ongoing.

This model of continual practice (termed by some as 'persistent training'), helps ensure that employees not only retain important information, but also helps to engrain security behaviour into daily routines and the culture of your organisation.

While deciding on just how regularly training should be deployed is going to depend on your organisation, it's worth keeping in mind that with training techniques (e.g., simulated phishing campaigns), employees can face regular real-world challenges without these activities consuming too much time.

Track Progress

As mentioned in the essential step above, a key benefit of integrating simulated phishing into your security awareness training is that it allows insight into the practical skills of employees.

Whilst this is indeed a great idea, the additional value of collecting this data is tracking employee progress over time; an effort which shouldn't just be limited to simulated phishing campaigns.

Moving beyond just one-off training and testing, having the ability to accurately track user progress over the course of multiple training sessions allows an organisation not only insight, but the ability to set measurable goals and work towards them in a logical manner.

Additionally, by choosing an information security awareness solution which easily integrates all this information, you can focus on a data driven approach to measurable behavioural change that reduces risk.


No matter where your organisation is in its information security journey, finding an effective solution which both integrates into users' daily workflows and compliments your organisation's culture is an essential.

Hopefully, with the above 5 steps as a starters' guide, your organisation can provide the best information security awareness training to your employees.

Security Awareness for your Organisation

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