We’ve all been there – or most likely have been – on the receiving end of that annual (or semi-annual) email reminder with the subject line “URGENT: Mandatory Security Training Module.” Most employees may not even bother opening it, but that’s where we must change the narrative on security awareness throughout the workforce. We must make it a team-centered goal to achieve success among our company’s cybersecurity approach. But, how? There are several strategies in making this work best for your organization.
1. Develop continuous & engaging awareness training campaignsWhen trying to build a culture of security at your workplace, one annual training session isn’t going to cut it. Yes, we understand this is the typical compliance standard, but if you want your company to adopt a holistic approach to risk awareness, continuity and creative ways of engagement are key. Think about making your campaigns engaging, interactive, and focused on typical threats like phishing and how an employee’s online behavior can affect the entire organization. It’s much wiser to treat these campaigns as learning experiences rather than mandatory (and boring) compliance training.
2. Provide regular & transparent communications from IT support or cybersecurity groups
When it comes to security training, the operators of such campaigns must be transparent and professional in all their communications. Clear communication and understanding among the departments is key to building a culture of security and resilience. Be straightforward in your authority and help employees to realize that cybersecurity is EVERYONE’S job, not just IT or cybersecurity groups. Each employee is 100% responsible for the organization’s security posture as a whole. Reinforcing that to your employees helps to build awareness while reminding them to be mindful and engaged in the fight against cyber threats. Also, teaching your employees about reporting any suspicious activity is very important and must be done regularly.
3. Address common challenges of working remotely in your campaignIt’s no surprise that working remotely may bring new challenges to the surface – but nothing that a well-secured organization can’t handle. Addressing these challenges and getting ahead of them in your training campaigns will ultimately help to engage your remote workforce and allow them to be more prepared for changes among their network and devices. An example of this may be an employee accessing the organization’s network/files while connected to a home Wi-Fi network (potentially unsecured) that lacks the benefits of network standardization. If your security awareness training program includes helpful tips for transitioning to home/remote security and how to avoid/prevent typical attacks from any location, this portion of security training will run very smoothly among remote or in-office employees.
4. Present tailored content for varying participant groups and technological abilities
Speak to your employees in laymen’s terms and content in which they’ll easily comprehend. General cybersecurity training that assumes an understanding of the company processes and technical skills will likely not meet the needs of every employee and can in turn, fail them. One must first define and consider the levels of risk awareness across the entire organization. Tailored content for each department or group of said organization is critical and can help to address unique situations and/or risks that might target their department specifically. A successful security training program includes specialized training for all proficiency levels of technology, and it is important to keep employees up to speed. Without considering this, it’s giving employees relevant information without the necessary context.
5. Train your employees to be consistent and risk-aware at all times
Consistency is KEY. Keeping your employees aware and engaged in the fact that they, too, are part of the organization’s security posture is more important than anything else in building that culture. Security awareness training should also focus solely on how individual decisions can affect the entire organization. Showing the relationship between these decisions (ex: employees connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi network while working remotely) and your organizational security can help employees to understand that cybersecurity is their responsibility, too – it’s a team effort. Providing personalized training to each employee can also help an individual to better comprehend the significant role they play within their company’s cybersecurity. And in today’s world, computer-based training is not mandatory – keep things enticing by offering in-person or video/interactive training sessions that give employees the chance to engage and ask questions about anything that they’re struggling with. This could provide a lot more value in their education vs. the standard computer-based training. Don’t be afraid to switch things up or try new methods!
With all these strategies in place, you’ll hopefully see a positive shift within your workforce. Be sure to remain consistent with these strategies and implement them throughout the year to train your employees properly and to successfully be more aware of the potential risk factors year-round. It’s best to be overly prepared and educated about potential threats than to be completely blind-sided while costing your company millions of dollars or costing you your position.