7 Elements of an Effective Cybersecurity Training Program

We can’t write enough blog articles about employee training. Any amount you invest in your employees will likely have a high return on investment—especially cybersecurity training. When you take into account that a data breach could cost you millions of dollars, time spent talking to employees about security sounds like a cakewalk. 

But, what will suffice as a good security training program? 

Pulling up a PowerPoint presentation won’t cut it, unfortunately. After all, how many presentations do you really remember? Probably very few. A comprehensive, well-designed cybersecurity training program, on the other hand, will save your company countless hours of headache in the future. 

So, how? Where do you start? What should the training include? We have seven elements for you to review before you get started on the planning process. Each of these adds up to be one robust, successful program that will serve your team well.   

1. Include C-Suite Executives

Here is one of the most overlooked aspects of a security training program. That is a regrettable oversight for many companies because their c-suite employees have the highest level of information access in the organization.

Executives are often overlooked when it comes to security training. Maybe because it’s assumed that they have more important things to take care of. Perhaps they don’t want to complete the training. Whatever the reason, they are arguably the best candidates for security training in the entire company.

When hackers go in for a phishing scam on a high-level employee, it’s referred to as a “whaling attack.” You can imagine why, but we’ll tell you anyway: If the employees are the “phish,” the executives are the “whales” due to the value of the data to which they have access.

Don’t get us wrong—criminals can do considerable damage with any information they manage to steal from your company. However, the more confidential the data, the more damage they can do. 

2. Use Real-Life Examples

The best way to drive your point home is to make it real. We all know what could happen, but if it’s never happened to you personally, it doesn’t seem like a real threat.

Here’s an example.

Which of these make more of a lasting impression?

Scenario 1: A data breach could possibly cost a company millions of dollars.

Scenario 2: In 2019, Company X lost 3.9 million dollars, causing their company to shut its doors permanently. This breach was caused by an accounting employee who clicked on a link in an email that she thought was sent by the marketing department.

3. Make It Engaging

While we’re on the subject of making a lasting impression, let’s clear up a common misconception: security training must be a boring seminar that ends with everyone signing their names to say that they got through the course. Not even close. Well, they will still need to sign a form to provide evidence for any future audits; however, it can be far from boring.

Do whatever you must to keep your employees engaged and learning throughout the training program. Create games, give out prizes, set up a role-play activity—do what you know will keep them from drifting off and doodling on their notepads.

4. Recognize Employee Participation

You might be seeing a theme here: employee engagement. The more you can involve your employees in data security, the more they will retain—and the more they will take ownership of protecting your company from the bad guys.

Show them that you appreciate their efforts and that you notice their commitment to security. Even a gesture as small as a $5 gift card for coffee will go a long way in showing your employees that you value their dedication.

5. Keep It on Your Employees’ Radar

Once your training program is complete, make sure you keep security on everyone’s minds. No matter how memorable you make it, you will still need to send out reminders. This could be quick, fun quizzes that highlight the elements of a phishing email, for example—anything to keep security front and center.

6. Partner with Other Departments

To make your training program company-wide, you’ll want to get every department involved in planning and teaching. The point of this element is less to collaborate—though that’s also an excellent goal—and more to maintain buy-in, ownership, and excitement across all departments.

7. Build a Security-Focused Culture

At the end of the day, your security program should be the first building block of a security-focused culture. Your company is creating a regular work style, rather than conducting a one-day session that your employees will soon forget. Integrate security best practices into your employees’ routines whenever possible, recognize their efforts, and refresh as much as you can. It’s those elements that will keep your training effective year-round. 

Are you ready to improve your company’s cybersecurity program? Technology Lab’s security services take security tasks off your plate, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Contact us today to learn more.