How to Create an Effective Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training Plan

How to Create an Effective Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training Plan

While companies will typically put a lot of thought and resources behind the hardware and software used for business IT security, the human element of cybersecurity can get less attention.

But humans are the element targeted the most by hackers. This is because it’s often easier for them to fool users into clicking a link in a spoofed email than it is to get around software security safeguards.

94% of all malware is delivered by email and 80% of security incidents involve phishing.

With users being the main target of cyberattacks, just having a once a year security training or giving them a security handout during onboarding isn’t sufficient. To keep users on their toes with the knowledge they need to help your business defend against the many IT security dangers out there requires ongoing employee training.

Nearly half (47%) of companies don’t have a security awareness training program in place. This puts them at significant risk of a breach as users get fooled into downloading malware, exposing their login credential, or infecting an entire network with ransomware.

Empower Your Employees Through an Effective Cybersecurity Training Program

Human error accounts for a many as 95% of all data breaches. Hackers go after the weakest link in a company’s technology infrastructure, and all to often it’s the users.

But it doesn’t have to be. By developing a strong employee awareness training plan, you can empower your team to be more cyber aware and significantly improve your IT security defences.

Schedule Training Regularly

Once a year training isn’t going to make a huge difference in your employees’ ability to identify phishing and prevent cybersecurity incidents.

When you don’t conduct training regularly:

  • Employees forget what they’ve been told
  • Employees don’t know what new threats to watch for (Like COVID-19 phishing scams)
  • Employees think you don’t see their security awareness as very important

You can get on a regular schedule for cybersecurity awareness training by incorporating different learning tools. Every training doesn’t have to be in person.

For example, you could do something like this:

  • Twice a year: Full team awareness trainings
  • Quarterly: Department-based trainings
  • Monthly: Interactive web-based or video training on specific topics
  • Weekly: Send a “Cybersecurity Tip” via email or Teams messaging

Incorporate Different Learning Methods

If all you’re doing is having employees sit and listen to a PowerPoint lecture on cybersecurity, they’ll be less likely to remember what they learned. Use different types of learning methods to help get the message across and aid retention.

These can include:

  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • Online phishing identification tests
  • Infographics
  • Team-oriented security events
  • Simulated attacks

Don’t Teach the Same Exact Thing Every Time

While there will always be those best practices that you want to recap during each training, you don’t want to simply do a rerun of the same topics for every training. Users will tune out and you’ll miss opportunities to dig deeper into specific security topics.

Here’s an example plan designed to keep training fresh and effective:

  • Cover highlights from the latest cybersecurity threat report (there are multiple to choose from – McAfee, Verizon, SophosLabs, Ponemon, etc)
  • Choose one cybersecurity threat to highlight in the training for deeper understanding (phishing, ransomware, email spoofing, etc.)
  • Go through examples of the latest phishing emails being received by users in your organisation.
  • Find a recent data breach, ransomware, or other attack incident in your local or state news to highlight as a real-world example of what can happen.
  • Recap best practices, like what to do with a phishing email and any data handling policies you require.
  • Ask users to engage with their own cybersecurity questions and experiences.

Use Phishing Simulations

It’s one thing to learn about a type of phishing attack in an awareness training and something else completely to see a phishing email in your inbox during a stressful day and correctly identify it.

Help your users learn in real-time by doing regular phishing simulations. These are phishing emails that aren’t real, but rather are sent by your IT department or provider to gauge how well your users can spot a phishing email in the midst of their workday.

Monitor Success & Reward Your Team

One critical step that’s often missing from a company’s cybersecurity awareness training plan is to measure how successful it is and reward your team when they do well.

One way to monitor progress is through the simulated phishing attacks, another is by measuring cybersecurity incidents or “near misses” and gauge them over time. You can also evaluate how many more reports of phishing emails you’re receiving from users, which is a clue they’re getting better at identifying them.

Make sure to reward your team for their progress and let them know how important they are in your overall IT security strategy.

Arm Your Employees with the Cybersecurity Knowledge They Need

Partner with GKM2 to develop an effective ongoing employee security awareness training program that can significantly decrease your risk of a breach.

Contact us today for a free consultation. Call +61 2 9161 7171 or reach out online.