Security Awareness Training: 5 Tips for an Effective Program

hand with five fingers representing five tips for security awareness training

A security awareness training (SAT) program, if done well, equips your employees with the tools they need to handle the common cybersecurity risks they face daily as well as the ability to recognize the hallmark signs of foul play. By securing your “human firewall” (or in other words, educating your employees), you improve your company’s security posture and promote a security-minded culture within your organization. 

But a security awareness training program done poorly? Well, that’s an entirely different story.

It isn’t enough to just check the compliance box year after year. Security awareness training sessions need to be interactive and creative; otherwise they have the potential to make your employees even more complacent. So, how do you avoid rolling out a poor program? Global Learning Systems, a provider of e-learning security awareness training, offer these five tips for security awareness training. 

1. Train more than once a year

As tempting as it may seem to “get it over with,” a once-a-year program is a surefire way to open the door to more employee complacency. Think “out of sight, out of mind.” Remember, cybercriminals do not sleep. They do not stop. They are always on to the next attack. Therefore, it stands to reason that we should be just as diligent in our awareness training by embracing a continuous learning strategy.

A video here, a module there, a poster in the breakroom, or perhaps a friendly inter-departmental competition using gamified courseware – the possibilities are endless! Rest assured, if you rely on one and done training, your human firewall will develop holes and will eventually succumb to an attack.

2. Match roles to risks

In order to better arm your employees with knowledge and make their training successful, assign training that speaks to their role and the threats they are susceptible to in that role. Planning your program with this level of detail may take more time, but it is a critical step in creating an effective security awareness training program. In fact, a “one-fits-all” approach to training may actually send the wrong message to your employees – that all risks and attacks look the same and are engineered toward the same audience, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Learn more about role-based security awareness training

3. Recycling content can increase complacency

Today’s training managers, IT supervisors, HR managers and others responsible for training programs within their organization are always short of one thing – time. Planning an effective program can be time-consuming, especially if there are many roles within the organization. While it is tempting to continue to just reset and reuse the content you used last year, it can send the message that your organization is just going through the motions of training. Employees need to know that you are prioritizing the training program by being mindful of providing engaging topics year after year.

4. Get to the point

Time is money. This is true for every aspect of your organization. Training should be effective, but it should not be long and tedious. Short videos, modules and/or games on specific topics allow you to engage your employees quickly, effectively and often. Think of it this way – if you needed to repair something, would you grab the 500-page manual first or would you look up a 5- to 10-minute how-to video on YouTube? Chances are you would watch the video first and accomplish more in under 10 minutes than the 20 to 30 minutes it would take to find the topic in the manual, read through it, and then apply it.

5. Feedback is invaluable

One way to help your employees take ownership of their role in creating a security-minded culture is to ask them for their feedback. What did they like about the training? Did they find it useful? Was it too long? Was it clear? Engaging? Did they walk away feeling more confident about their role in keeping the organization’s information secure?

Encourage them to provide the feedback, but don’t stop there. Find ways to implement some of their suggestions into next year’s program. You’ll be ahead of the game when your next security awareness training planning session rolls around. By listening and implementing changes, you send the message to your employees that being cyber secure is a top priority for your organization and that it equals a win-win for everyone.

Take Your SAT to the Next Level

Step up your SAT program with these five tips for security awareness training and the expertise of Global Learning Systems. With our award-winning training, we help our clients of all types and sizes to assess, develop and deliver robust training programs designed to meet the needs of their learners. Contact GLS to learn more.

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