How to conduct an effective cybersecurity training program

April 11th, 2019
How to conduct an effective cybersecurity training program

Most data breaches that make the headlines are those which target major names like Target, Marriot, and Sony. However, for every high-profile data breach you read about in the news, there are countless others targeting smaller businesses. SMBs are often seen as easy targets owing to a lack of expertise and effective security controls. That’s why many industry regulations require organizations to carry out ongoing security awareness training.

Get everyone involved

Information security has long been viewed as a challenge for the IT department. Employees are often left out of the loop, instead relying on security experts to implement command-and-control methods to block potentially malicious activity. Often, these controls would end up being oppressive and getting in the way of innovation, thereby encouraging employees to find risky workarounds. Today, things are different. With human error being the number one cause of most data breaches, it’s more important than ever to implement a company-wide training program that helps your team understand that security is everyone’s responsibility.

Don’t make it academic

No one wants to feel like they’re being sent back to school when they undergo security training. An academic approach simply doesn’t work because it rarely relates to specific, real-world threats facing your organization. Rather than bombard employees with reams of complex security policies, you should instead focus on the practical implications. Professional training seminars should teach employees to recognize potential security threats and help them develop a security mindset. Conducting phishing simulations will raise awareness and help your employees protect themselves in both their professional and personal lives. It’s important to make it less about the business and more about the people who make things happen.

Create accountability

Information security is everyone’s responsibility. Staff needs to work as a team in which everyone is held accountable to one another. Employees should feel empowered to use the platforms they rely on for work without having to live in constant fear of a data breach. That means they should feel confident in recognizing and reporting suspicious activities and working together to guard against threats. To that end, security professionals should lead by example and help instill a culture of innovation and accountability across every department in the organization.

Train early and often

The cyberthreat landscape continues to evolve at an alarming rate. Every new technology presents both risks and opportunities to the business, but failing to innovate due to security concerns is sure to result in your business being left behind. To foster a culture of innovation and security awareness, it’s important to incorporate training into your routine. As new threats arise and disappear, employees need to be updated. Although usually there’s no need to run training seminars every month, it’s crucial that information security and privacy remain at the forefront of people’s minds. Be sure to have a defined strategy for onboarding new hires and for keeping existing ones up to date with the ever-changing threat landscape.

Take steps to increase engagement

If your security awareness training program is boring, then your employees will learn little or nothing, and bad habits will surely prevail. Fortunately, cybersecurity doesn’t have to be boring or excessively complicated. Make it relevant and engaging, instead of just talking about the role of information security in a business context. You can, for example, provide short weekly training sessions to keep people informed without risking information overload. Other methods to increase engagement include making it fun through gamification. By assigning scores and rewarding good security practices with recognition, employees may even start looking forward to their training sessions.

Fidelis Inc. provides a range of employee information security training services to minimize the risks to your business. Contact us today to find out more.

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