Technical defenses need to be implemented to protect against cyber threats, but it is also important to provide security training to the workforce. Security awareness training involves teaching users how to identify and avoid cyber threats, and training users to follow the security best practices that are necessary for protecting devices, networks, and data.

When businesses analyze security incidents, they often find that the threat could have easily been identified and avoided. A ransomware attack, for example, could have been prevented had an employee recognized the phishing email that gave the attackers the credentials they needed to access the network. Employees are commonly thought of as a weak link in the security chain, but employees can actually be security assets. Through training, they can become important sensors that help to protect the company.

Security awareness training is necessary for all members of the workforce, from the CEO down. Security awareness training needs to be provided to all individuals when they join the company, and then periodically thereafter. 20% of businesses provide security awareness training once a year or less, but something so important needs to be provided more frequently as employees cannot be expected to retain all of the information from a single, annual training session and then apply that information to real-life situations continuously throughout the year.

Many businesses need to change their thinking on security awareness training from it being a checkbox item that needs to be completed for compliance or to take out cyber insurance. Effective training is required, and that means it needs to be provided continuously. If you don’t exercise, your muscles will become weak. The same applies to security awareness training.

Classroom or computer-based training should be provided, which should be augmented with presentations, quizzes, infographics, and videos. Regular refresher training sessions should be provided in bite-sized chunks that are easy to take on board and remember. The aim of security awareness training is to create a security culture where everyone knows to be constantly alert.

Businesses need to develop an incident response plan to ensure the business can continue to operate in the event of a disaster. Backups need to be made of critical data to ensure that no data is lost in the event of computer failure or a ransomware attack. If you don’t test those plans and backups, it is impossible to know if they work. The same is true for security awareness training. It is necessary to test to see if the knowledge from training has been retained by the staff, if that knowledge is being applied in real-world situations, and whether security awareness training is actually influencing behavior.

One of the best ways to do this is with phishing simulations. Phishing simulations are exercises that are conducted to determine how effective training has been and to identify any areas where training needs to be improved. If a large number of employees have fallen for a particular phishing simulation, it is clear that the training has not covered that particular threat in sufficient detail. Training can then be adapted to help employees understand. If an employee falls for a simulation, there should be consequences, but the consequences should not be punitive. The purpose is to improve security not to punish employees, so the threat needs to be explained to the employee at the time to make sure that if it is encountered again, they will recognize it for what it is and act appropriately.

TitanHQ can help businesses with security awareness training and phishing simulations. SafeTitan is the only behavior-driven security training solution that delivers contextual training in real-time. With SafeTitan, alerts are generated when users take actions they shouldn’t, and those alerts are used to trigger timely training content with context. Since that training is delivered with context, the content provided is always relevant. SafeTitan also allows businesses to monitor how effective training is over time and how training is actually reducing risk.

“Every time an alert is triggered and comes into us, we map that alert or behavior in our database. This allows us to see the frequency of that behavior and monitor how it changes over time. You can measure this by user, by department, by country, by office, by business unit, and by organization,” says Stephen Burke, Product Director of SafeTitan, and founder and CEO of Cyber Risk Aware, which was recently acquired by TitanHQ. “And the beautiful side of it is, unlike most enterprise-grade software, it doesn’t just give mid to large enterprises the ability to demonstrate how effective their training is. MSPs can also offer this technology to their SMB clients, who maybe don’t initially know to seek that information.”

If you want to find out more about security awareness training, this interview with Stephen Burke with Expert Insights is a good place to start. We also recommend starting training with SafeTitan – You can get started today at zero cost by taking advantage of the SafeTitan free trial!