TechGuard Blog

Changing Work Environments - How Does Your Security Awareness and Training Program Measure Up?

A high percentage of companies and employees have been dealing with it – changing work environments due to COVID-19. Since March, most of us have probably been stationed at home or sheltering somewhere safe as many businesses and offices have closed their doors to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. Working remotely isn’t particularly new to us, however the consecutive days/weeks and a wide majority of businesses participating…is. This is not a typical situation, but this is a cybercriminal’s fairytale dream. The vulnerability risk of cybercriminals attacking your systems is on the rise mainly because of human error alone. Cybercriminals know that people are vulnerable as they’re stressed with the increased workload of their careers, children, and housework. They know they’re filled with fear and uncertainty and know exactly what to say to phish anything out of them during this sensitive time. That’s why organizations MUST focus primarily on people-centric security as we’re navigating through this pandemic.

People-centric security places the individual/employee in the center of security measures and is designed to reduce the risk of human error. Organizations need to be aware of the increased risks of an attack while addressing and mitigating any risk of human error on the job. One of the biggest tools in staying ahead and preparing your employees is having an effective security awareness and training program in place. These programs inherently focus on the element of people to better prepare them for such attacks.

When switching environments, the deviation to remote workstations from corporate boundaries opens a much higher risk of an attack and is much easier to influence insiders (employees) to make detrimental mistakes. Working remotely vs working in office changes the trajectory of security and organizations must always remind their workers that they are not in a secure hard-shell where all the required security protections are in place for them. A good starting point for training is education surrounding security controls such as VPNs, encrypting emails, and the use of personal devices. These can be introduced initially to help counteract newly introduced aspects of a remote work environment. 

But, to fully adapt appropriately to an ever-changing threat landscape and shifting environments, an organization’s security awareness and training program must contain three important elements:

  1. Employee training specific to individual roles to protect against targeted attacks and to meet compliance requirements

    1. Not all training is the same for all roles – some employees may be more susceptible to opening a phishing email if the subject line contains their specific job title

  2. An organization must have a fully-staffed management team that’s prepared for actual cyberattack scenarios in a security operations center (SOC) or a corporate IT setting. These key players must be ready and equipped to comprehensively handle an urgent and challenging event if one were to occur.

  3. The entire organization must convey enhanced security skills to counteract any lack of cyber skills in the workforce and any other threat or special situation that may arise.

When building out and planning your organization’s security awareness and training program, you must always remember to make it comprehensive, scalable, and tailored to help lessen the organization’s risk at any given moment. Strong security awareness and training programs will also help prepare your employees to properly use remote work tips and advice. 

What Steps Do You Take if You Don’t Have a Program in Place? 

There are several steps in becoming proactive when implementing your organization’s security awareness and training program. Your very first steps include understanding your program’s objectives, the scope of work or your targeted audience, and the requirements and success factors. After you’ve laid the groundwork for those initiatives, your next steps are to establish your leadership support team, framework/game plan, artifacts, and training guides. Once you’ve completed your initial tasks, you must then assess your organization’s current cybersecurity posture and your current knowledge of cybersecurity – these two will play a major role in filling in some gaps and also help in strengthening your plans and training guides as mentioned above. 

When you feel confident that you have a structured and strong plan established, your next step is to deploy it! The work doesn’t end there though – and you must have a very dedicated team to launch such a program – and you must continue to measure and manage your program based on your established plan. Tracking the effectiveness of your program is very important and you’ll gain some valuable insight via KPIs and feedback from your audience. Implement changes as necessary while continuing to monitor employees’ risk profiles depending on their job roles and their responsibilities. 

You must also remain consistent in monitoring and assessing the following to be able to learn and measure the overall effectiveness of your systematized program: 

  1. Your employees’ awareness maturity on security topics and controls
  2. Their phishing awareness and susceptibility to actual threats
  3. Reinforcing user behavioral action and response
  4. Refreshing and adapting online/offline training resources for reinforcement 

If you think your company or organization may need to finetune their security awareness and training program or even implement a new one, TechGuard Security can help you get started! We can help build a more sound program to prepare your employees to identify and respond to phishing and social engineering attacks while also reducing the risk of a security breach and help minimize the overall cost of any security-related cyberattack. Contact us today for more information. 



Written by Allie Prange