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Four ways to create an engaging cybersecurity awareness program.

Measured Staff
April 13, 2022
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An employee error in today’s digital age can open the floodgates for bad actors to exploit vulnerabilities and disrupt an organization’s core operations. Cyber security is becoming more complex (down to the latest cybersecurity buzzwords) and relying on internal IT departments or third-party providers alone is not sufficient to guarantee complete protection.

Cybersecurity programs
There is growing evidence that human error accounts for 90% of cyber attacks, and the average cost of these attacks doubles yearly from 2020 to date. However, the real blame lies with current cybersecurity awareness programs. 

Programs are often conducted at the wrong pace, which doesn’t keep up with changing cyber trends, or by unqualified instructors. Often, awareness programs are tedious to sit through, and they fail to reflect the details of each employee’s responsibilities.

Employees can become the most important part of cybersecurity if an organization’s cybersecurity awareness program can instill a sense of personal ownership and accountability. Here are four ways to make your cybersecurity awareness program engaging and effective for employees and the organization overall.

Employee training
When developing a program, consider whether the security team has the resources to derive the same valuable threat intelligence as a potential vendor. Organizations should consider the following questions: 

  • What is the size of the security team? 
  • Do they have enough time, capability, and budget? 
  • Would it make sense to consult with a security advisor? 

In-house training may be an option if a team has enough resources to leverage their experience to develop and deploy a strong program, but that decision comes with a number of additional considerations.

It may be more appropriate to rely on a vendor if that provider is able to address the organization’s specific attack surface needs since this varies widely from industry to industry and from company to company. Then, consider if this will be an ongoing partnership with the vendor or a one-off engagement.

Companies should also consider refresher training throughout the year instead of one-time training at onboarding.

Personalized program
Employees are much more likely to understand and retain information about cybersecurity if it relates directly to their daily tasks and responsibilities. Organizations should strive to make programs relevant, personalized, and timely. Providing real-life examples of attack techniques and results can be very effective.

Buy-in from leadership
If management doesn’t consider cybersecurity a priority, employees won’t either. Cybersecurity messaging should be reinforced consistently at meetings and through internal communications straight from the top. Setting a good example at the office and following safe cybersecurity procedures makes it a standard that employees will follow.

Positive reinforcement is a great start to encouraging employees to engage in the cybersecurity program. In addition, incentives can provide that extra bit of motivation. While some companies with successful cybersecurity programs honor employees with recognition like “security champion of the month,” others incentivize with physical rewards like gift cards or merchandise.

In conclusion
Management should create metrics to measure the success of their cybersecurity engagement program. The right balance of cyber monitoring, threat detection, and employee awareness can see significant success in protecting systems and data against cyber threats.