Best Practices for Cybersecurity Awareness Training Programs

Government agencies such as the Canadian Center for Cybersecurity (CCCS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S., not to mention cybersecurity insurance companies, all stress or mandate the need for cybersecurity awareness training. The reason for this need/requirement is very concrete. In addition to cybercriminals exploiting vulnerabilities in the technology organizations use, they also prey on and exploit people’s trust, behaviours and emotions to gain access to their systems. 

A cybersecurity awareness training program is a cost-efficient way to teach employees to recognize, avoid and report threats, which helps reduce cyber risk for an organization and creates an effective human firewall. 

Here are some best practices that can be used as a base when looking at implementing a cybersecurity awareness program within a business.  

Cybersecurity Awareness Training Best Practices 

1. Emphasize that cybersecurity is not just about technology  

Technology is important to a strong cybersecurity strategy. Properly configured firewalls, endpoint protection, patching and updating and many other technologies that help reduce cyber risk are essential. However, one click on a malicious link can bring an organization to a halt. According to 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 85% of all data breaches involve human element.  

It’s important that everyone in the organization understands their importance and their responsibility when it comes to cybersecurity and reducing cyber risk. 

2. Deliver training often and make the content easy to digest 

Delivering highly engaging content that employees can used right away at work or at home has produced better results than longer training sessions.  

Training delivered on a regular basis throughout the year and in bite-sized portions so people can complete them in short periods of time has proven to be highly effective in raising employee cybersecurity awareness.  

3. Simulate and gamify 

Making the education program as real as possible and focusing on phishing simulations that mimic real-life attacks will reinforce the policies and procedures being taught. Delivering these simulated attacks to an employee’s desk allows for an organization to see how they react in their normal work environment. Depending on their responses, very targeted additional training can be delivered to address any vulnerable areas quickly.  

4. Don’t punish employees  

Cybersecurity is an ever-changing landscape as cybercriminals hone their craft and sophistication levels increase. The training that is provided is meant to give employees a safe space to learn and to fail. Punishing employees that don’t perform well on the training is not the right approach. Understanding the areas that need reinforcement and providing additional training will yield the results organizations should be looking for. 

5. Testing  

Testing is a key part of a cybersecurity awareness training initiative. It allows organizations to determine the knowledge level of each person within the business, including executives, to provide the appropriate training for each individual.  

Cybersecurity awareness training can help businesses stop many attacks by arming their employees with the knowledge they need to act as your best line of defense against cyber risks. MicroAge can help you implement a cybersecurity awareness training solution that is right for your organization. Contact us today. 

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