One of the fundamental security awareness training errors made by many businesses is failing to check the effectiveness of their training. A training course is purchased or developed internally, employees receive training, and the training is provided again each year, but there are no assessments performed to determine whether the training has actually worked. It is often only when there is a successful phishing attack that training is discovered to have failed, and many businesses then blame the employee for falling for the phishing attempt, when the fault may lie with the employer.

The aim of security awareness training is to change users’ behavior, and that is achieved by teaching security best practices, making employees aware of the threats they are likely to encounter, showing them what they should be doing to identify and avoid those threats, and teaching them to report those threats to the security team. The process should not end there, as it is also necessary to determine whether the training has worked. Many employees will take the training on board, will change their behavior, and will become security Titans. Others may struggle to grasp certain concepts and require further training or different training approaches. If there is no monitoring or assessments, weak points will not be identified and risk will not be reduced.

Tips for Assessing the Effectiveness of Security Awareness Training

Assessing the effectiveness of security awareness training can be challenging, as there is no single metric that can be measured that provides a complete picture. The best approach is to use multiple metrics for measuring the effectiveness of a security awareness training program.

First, you need to have a baseline against which you can measure progress. You need to know the level of security awareness before training starts and you can measure progress over time. Pre-training assessments are useful and can be conducted via a questionnaire covering all security topics you intend to cover during training. These questionnaires will also allow you to develop training courses appropriate to each individual to ensure that specific knowledge gaps are addressed.

It is important to monitor participation and completion rates to see how whether employees are engaging and taking training seriously. If participation is poor, the importance of training may not have been conveyed, or employees may not have the time to fit training into busy workflows, and these factors will need to be addressed. If training content is not being completed, the training may be too long, not engaging enough, and boring. If employees are not engaged, then the training will not be effective.

Quizzes should be conducted after each training module to see if employees have understood the topic. If questions are answered incorrectly, then the employees concerned have not understood the training and need more help. These quizzes allow targeted intervention to address issues with individual employees on specific topics. These quizzes should be repeated over time to test knowledge retention. A quiz directly after a training session may be passed but testing again in a few weeks or months will allow you to measure whether information has been retained.

One of the most important tools is a phishing simulation platform. These platforms are used to send realistic but fake phishing emails to the workforce to test whether training is being applied. Phishing simulation data is one of the most important metrics for measuring the effectiveness of a training campaign through open rates, click rates, and reporting rates. These simulations should be conducted before training to get a baseline and after training to determine the effectiveness of security awareness training over time. If the click rate is falling and the reporting rate is increasing, then the training is working. Phishing simulations also allow you to identify knowledge gaps and provide targeted training specific to the threat that was incorrectly identified. It gives employees practice at applying their new knowledge so that when a real threat is encountered, it is more likely to be correctly identified.

You should also seek feedback on the training from your employees. The best approach is to provide anonymous questionnaires and to encourage employees to provide honest feedback. These questionnaires should include security questions to gauge understanding of security best practices, questions to determine how the employees feel about the training, any problems they have, and if they feel the training has been effective and relevant to their role. While the questionnaire should be anonymous, it is useful to know which departments the employees work in to allow you to tailor your training course appropriately.

Security Awareness Training from TitanHQ

Monitoring the effectiveness of security awareness training is easy with the SafeTitan security awareness training and phishing simulation platform. The platform allows users to conduct pre-training assessments, assessments after each training module, and further assessments over time. The phishing simulation platform allows simulations to be automated and provides detailed metrics that demonstrate the effectiveness of the training and show the return on your investment. The phishing simulator will also trigger additional training in response to a failed test, which is delivered immediately to explain the error that has been made and provide the necessary training at the point when the training is most likely to be taken on board.

Through the use of the SafeTitan platform and phishing simulator, businesses can not only improve resilience to threats, they can get detailed metrics to show just how effective training has been. Data from users shows that resilience to phishing can be improved by up to 80%. Get in touch with the TitanHQ team today to find out more and to arrange a free trial of the platform to see for yourself how easy it is to create training campaigns, run phishing simulations, and measure the effectiveness of security awareness training. TitanHQ also offers DNS filtering, email encryption, phishing protection, and email archiving solutions, and a cloud-based anti-spam service with unrivaled accuracy.