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8 Steps to Implement a Cyber Security Awareness Training Program

November 08, 2022 - Security

8 Steps to Implement a Cyber Security Awareness Training Program
Mark Jennings

Posted by Mark Jennings

For modern businesses, cybersecurity is a serious issue. Global cybercrime costs are expected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. This jarring statistic illustrates why businesses must teach their employees cybersecurity best practices.

However, establishing a cybersecurity awareness training program can seem like quite an undertaking, and most employers don’t know where to begin. Luckily, there are steps to guide you.

Below, we’ll touch on eight simple steps to help you implement a cybersecurity awareness training program at your company.

1. Get Buy-in From Company Leadership

Before starting a new training program, it’s important to get executive buy-in at the top of your organization. Taking this step first will help you eliminate any potential roadblocks down the road, as company resources are used for this purpose.

Company leadership buy-in will also make it much easier to push for company adoption of new policies and procedures regarding cybersecurity and will validate your initiative for anyone who might think the effort is a waste of time.

2. Perform Risk Assessment Reports

Cybersecurity is broad, and tackling a training program designed around it can take you down many paths. To give your organization focus when starting a training program, it’s important to take stock of the immediate cybersecurity risks facing your company.

Performing a risk assessment of your current systems, networks, and other digital assets will help to prioritize which areas pose the most significant risk to business security. Knowing this information will ensure your training program is relevant and effective at getting employees to make wise decisions regarding business and personal data security.

>> Learn more about managed vulnerability scanning and how this service  improves your ability to detect advanced cyber threats.

3. Provide Interactive Training Courses

Navigating cybersecurity best practices can be a confusing process for some. Here, making your training courses as interactive as possible is best. Hands-on training is a much more effective learning tool when compared to studying guidebooks or reading lengthy manuals. By providing a platform, whether in-house or online, where employees can practice what they‘ve learned, you’ll help expedite the learning process and make it easier for employees to retain information.

At SymQuest, we’ve partnered with KnowBe4, the world’s largest integrated security awareness training platform, to provide our clients with an intuitive tool designed to improve cybersecurity resilience. KnowBe4 has the world's most extensive library of over 1300 security awareness training content items, including interactive modules, videos, games, posters, and newsletters.

4. Schedule Simulated Phishing Attacks

Over time, testing your employees on what they have learned and confirming they are still following cybersecurity best practices is essential. An effective way to do this is by using an automated testing platform that sends simulated phishing emails and records whether users were fooled by the message and performed risky behavior. Users failing the tests can automatically enroll in additional training to reinforce their knowledge.

>> Learn the 8 email security tips every employee needs to know. 

5. Compile Test Results and Improve

It is essential to review the results of your simulated phishing campaigns and use them to improve your tactics. An effective cybersecurity training program will include advanced reporting tools that provide actionable metrics and insight into the program’s overall effectiveness. Reviewing test results thoroughly will not only tell you which employees or departments need additional training but will also help you adapt your training program, so it’s more effective.

6. Implement and Enforce New Policies

While most employees immediately discern the importance of protecting company security, others may not. In this case, it’s vital to implement new company policies regarding your organization’s cybersecurity expectations and enforce them accordingly.

Some may view specific cybersecurity best practices in the organization as inconvenient or a wasted effort. However, enforcing these policies over time will ensure all employees recognize the seriousness of your training efforts.

It’s important to be clear with your employees about the ramifications of repeated failures of the tests. One careless employee can cripple an entire organization. It’s up to each organization to determine what measures should be taken for repeat failures — and rewards for proper precaution.

7. Retrain Employees Regularly

Taking a “one-and-done” approach to cybersecurity training can be costly. Cybercrime is incredibly dynamic, which means that effective countermeasures should be as well. As new cybersecurity information becomes available, it’s vital to retrain employees regularly. Setting up quarterly or bi-annual cybersecurity training sessions can help show your employees the importance of this initiative and keep what they’ve learned fresh in their minds.

8. Be Consistent and Stay Informed

Training programs must be completed consistently. Since human error is the cause of most cyber attacks, encourage your employees to revisit training resources regularly as cyber threats and methods of compromise change constantly.

Lastly, no successful training program is complete without an educational component. Employers should devise a strategy to keep employees updated on cybersecurity news, incidents, and insights. Consider compiling articles, videos, and reports into a monthly or quarterly newsletter to ensure security stays top of mind.

Ready to Create a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program?

Creating a cybersecurity awareness training program doesn’t have to be an impossible task. By following the simple steps, you can ensure you get the executive support you need while implementing an effective cybersecurity program designed to protect both the company and the employees who work for it.

The easiest and most effective way to manage your company’s training program is by partnering with experienced cybersecurity specialists. Outsourcing cybersecurity awareness training gives businesses more time to focus on business-critical work. Keep in mind that a cybersecurity training program may qualify your organization for a discount on your cyber liability insurance policies.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on August 2, 2019, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.

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Mark Jennings

about the author

Mark Jennings

Mark Jennings is SymQuest’s Area Vice President of IT Sales. Jennings works with SymQuest’s sales and service teams to educate customers on current best practices around data protection, disaster recovery, security, and overall technology planning.

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