Security Awareness Training

4 Elements of a Successful Security Awareness Training Program

A whopping 52% of firms surveyed believe that their workers are their biggest vulnerability in IT security, according to a joint study by Kaspersky and B2B International. This statistic is no surprise, given that human error contributes to 95% of cybersecurity breaches. Amongst the most significant concerns companies have regarding employees and security are:

  • Data sharing on mobile devices (47%);
  • Physical loss of mobile devices exposing the company to risk (46%);
  • Employees’ misuse of IT resources (44%);

Proactively educating your team on common IT security risks is critical to protecting your company. This is where a comprehensive security awareness training program comes in. 

What is Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness training ensures employees across all departments can recognize threats, avoid potentially damaging actions, and take informed steps to protect your company. Security awareness training can include a variety of topics, from identifying suspicious emails and ransomware to physical device security and network security. Any risk your employees could be exposed to online through their email, social media, or other applications and tools they frequently use for their jobs should be covered in training.

Who Needs Security Awareness Training

The short answer: everyone. 

Your employees are the primary line of defence for protecting your business against security risks. Therefore, every person in every department of your company should receive security awareness training. However, your program must account for your company’s varying levels of expertise and ensure everyone can easily understand its materials. 

4 Elements of a Successful Security Awareness Training Program

1. Focus on Fundamentals

Covering all the potential threats your organization is most likely to face when designing a security awareness training program is essential. Here are some of the top security awareness topics:


Because phishing is one of the most effective tactics cybercriminals use, it is also the most common, with 83% of organizations reporting phishing attacks in 2021. Phishing is a form of social engineering. Attackers masquerade as trusted entities to dupe victims into opening an email, instant message, or text message and trick them into clicking a malicious link, which can lead to a malware installation or ransomware attack or leave sensitive information exposed. Therefore, employees must understand how to identify a phishing attack and defend against suspicious links and attachments. 

Passwords + Authentication

Poor password protection is another significant threat to IT security. You should educate employees on how to create and manage strong passwords and use multi-factor authentication. In addition, they should understand the risks of using the same passwords for multiple accounts (especially between personal and corporate accounts).

Removable Media

Removable media such as USB drives, external hard drives, and other portable storage devices can be a significant risk for your organization. Security awareness training should include dealing with lost or stolen removable devices and preventing malware infections and copyright infringement when using removable media.

Physical Security

Security awareness training should go beyond digital threats and include physical aspects of the workplace. For example, employees should understand the risks and avoid activities such as leaving sensitive documents and devices unattended, passwords in plain sight or cabinets and doors unlocked. 

Public WiFi + Remote Work

The ongoing rise of remote working and an increase in unsecured public WiFi make security training in this area critical. Educating your employees on the safe use of public WiFi and the common signs to spot a potential threat will minimize risk.

Mobile Devices

There is no denying the flexibility that mobile devices provide to the remote workforce; however, with that also comes more sophisticated security attacks. The rise of malicious mobile apps has increased the risk of devices containing malware. This poses a significant issue if their devices connect to your corporate network. From leaked corporate documents to client email and mobile contacts, it could put the entire company at risk. Security awareness training will educate your employees on protecting sensitive data while supporting their critical work function.

2. Create a Security-Centric Culture

Security must be a company-wide effort, so it’s essential to foster a culture of security awareness from the top down. Your leadership team’s involvement in security awareness training communicates that security is critical and demonstrates fairness because everyone is held to the same standard. Conversely, if leadership is lax on security best practices, employees may lose motivation to be diligent. 

3. Enforce, Review + Repeat

Cybersecurity threats constantly evolve, so you cannot take a “set it and forget it” approach to awareness training. Instead, your company should conduct programs with refreshers and updates regularly throughout the year. For example, routinely testing employee preparedness through interactive phishing exercises will keep everyone alert and reinforce awareness activities. Suppose an employee fails this test, clicks a link in a phishing email, or downloads an attachment. In that case, you can immediately provide feedback and additional training to avoid such threats in the future. Moreover, accountability is vital to the process, so keeping a slack rein could be detrimental to the overall security awareness policy.

4. Create Diverse Training Methods

To avoid information overload and appeal to different learning styles, use various tools, including interactive exercises, to communicate the information. For example, simulated phishing attacks, quizzes, videos and even games are a much more effective way to engage users and often help demonstrate concepts far better than handouts and slides. 

Wrapping Up

Employees play a critical role in operating a successful business. However, an untrained and negligent workforce can put your business at risk, compromise your reputation and lead to a devastating financial loss. By regularly promoting a culture of conversation through security awareness training, you can keep your employees updated with the requirements to secure their personal and business information.

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