Given the ever-expanding threat landscape, organizations across industries are eager to implement cybersecurity training programs that are more specialized and effective than the once-a-year standard training course. To be successful, a program must take into account the depth of training required for different levels of knowledge and convey it in a way that is interesting and challenging. To enhance your security training program, these four key elements can heighten awareness and understanding of cybersecurity across the entire organization:
1. Culture comes first.
A security training program should not just be about awareness—it should be about building a security culture. Employees need to have a personal investment in warding off threats to the organization. To foster this, do not limit training to the confines of a “program” but rather, encourage your employees to approach security as a mindset. Whether it is making sure employees understand the warning signs of phishing or the importance of choosing a strong network login password, they need to feel a level of individual responsibility when it comes to security.
One way an organization can get security-curious employees more involved is to create email distribution lists for security-related announcements, hot topics, questions, debates or Q&A forums. Encourage collaboration. Companies can also celebrate employees who are active in security activities by offering certifications or giving kudos to those who have proven themselves as security experts. Organizations can implement a “belt system” where employees can accumulate points based on various security activities, such as testing new security software or identifying a phishing attempt.
2. Tailor your message.
A single program cannot resonate with both a mid-level product development employee and a business operations manager, so specialize your programs: adjust language, examples, depth and breadth to fit your audience. This can be achieved by setting up different tracks that encourage both security beginners and the most advanced personnel. For example, your program can offer various curricula that cater to developers who work with different coding languages. You can create a security training track for operations professionals that is non-technical and teaches users about different threat types. Specialized tracks within your program will work to encourage all employees, regardless of practice or level, to prioritize security in their day-to-day projects.
3. Get creative.
Corporate training—we have all been there: you sit, get lectured to, take a quiz, and once you leave the room or finish your online lesson, you never think about the content again. Do not approach security training this way. Your organization is only as safe as its weakest link—the least-informed employee. The security of an organization is dependent upon how much your employees retain the information and whether or not they will actively use it. Get creative, implement hands-on, face-to-face training sessions, gamify your program with events and milestones that foster friendly competition, and make it fun and rewarding. Passive training is less effective. You will see better results if you develop a security program that is interactive and encourages people to solve real-world problems.
4. Accommodate success at scale.
As the buzz around a successful security training program grows, so will the demand for training. Once the groundwork for an interactive security culture has been set, an expanded portion of the organization will likely see the value in security training and want to participate. It is important to think ahead and ensure the programs you are building are scalable. Expand your team of talented security trainers and evangelists and harness experts across different regions to replicate globally what you are doing at headquarters. This will not only work to keep security awareness top of mind, but will ensure a level of consistency in training across offices.
Sharing information is also essential for success. Find a home on the internal website for the program’s assets so they can be shared by internal staff and those working remotely. Offer online training modules that can be accessed whenever, wherever, and by a large number of employees. Many organizations provide free computer-based, on-demand courses and resources.
Organizations have accepted the reality of security threats, but it is important that this acknowledgement turns into action. Do not simply check a box by enacting a haphazard training program—invest in the development of a robust security culture; engage employees through creative, specialized programing and plan for growth. These key elements can make the difference in building a program that will unite employees and change mindsets regarding security of the organization.