7 Essential Features of Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Posted on 22-10-2018

Providing Cybersecurity Awareness Training for your staff is an absolute must for organizations of all sizes. People will always be the weakest link in your cybersecurity defense.  Indeed, end users are the longtime favorite target of cyber criminals. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Digest reported that 90% of the data-loss incidents reviewed that year involved phishing or the social engineering of end-users. Unsurprising then, that a July 2018 Cybersecurity Insiders report concluded that more than 90% of the participating organizations felt vulnerable to insider malice or inadvertent errors by end user employees.

There is a way to mitigate the potential security risks than human error poses, however,  and that is by actively promoting cybersecurity awareness amongst your employees. This is in fact the easiest and most cost-effective quick win in any overall security initiative.

Employees need to know how to recognise cybersecurity threats and detect attacks. Moreover, they should be  fully familiar with your organizations cybersecurity policies and procedures, so that they know exactly what to do if they spot a security issue or suspect a security breach has taken place.

An effective staff cybersecurity awareness training program will help you bolster your people defenses. But what exactly makes it effective? Let’s examine 7 essential attributes your cybersecurity training should possess.  

1. Program Audience & Scope

Cybersecurity awareness training should be delivered to every member of your organization, from Board/C-Level down to foot soldiers. All staff must be included in some shape or form, because every individual represents a separate security risk.

2. Cybersecurity Awareness Training should be Comprehensive

Everyone learns in different ways. Your cybersecurity training program should include a mix of learning formats and activities. For example:

  • Instructor-led sessions
  • E-learning
  • Videos
  • Guides
  • Webinars
  • Awareness posters
  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Gamification
  • Phishing exercises
  • War exercises
  • Incentives/giveaways

3Cybersecurity awareness training needs to be delivered in plain language

No one wants to learn about technical or legal jargon. For some employees even the word ‘phishing’ will be unfamiliar. Bear in mind that your employees work across a range of departments and professional disciplines, and may never have encountered technical aspects of cybersecurity before.   Keep things simple and engaging by communicating in plain and common language.

4. Cybersecurity awareness training should be to the point

Content should be structured for ease of comprehension and engagement as it can be a complex subject. Use sub-headings and bullets to communicate information in bite-size pieces for ease of understanding. Where possible, distill actions into clear cybersecurity Do’s and Don’ts.

5. Cybersecurity awareness training should be measurable for impact

Are employees more savvy?

Are they reporting suspicious emails?

Are they asking questions of the security team?

How did they find their cybersecurity training? Are there any aspects of the program that can be improved. It’s crucial to continually monitor and analyse the success of your cybersecurity training. It will help you identify where improvements can be made.

6. Cybersecurity  awareness training must be part of a continuous security & compliance strategic program

Once-off doesn’t work.  Providing cybersecurity training is not a tick the box exercise. It’s a crucial measure to protect your organization from threats. Employees should be enrolled in a continual cybersecurity training program to keep learning and awareness front of mind.

“Security is a continuous journey, not a single destination” states Mathieu Gorge, CEO at VigiTrust “Awareness Training is a crucial foundation for any any effective security program. It needs to be an ongoing process, not a once a year project”

Any aspects of the cybersecurity-training that can be automated or worked on independently by employees will be a huge plus, because it allows employees to work on upgrading their skills without interfering with normal business operations.

7. Cybersecurity awareness training must be fun!

It doesn’t have to be boring. Make good practices fun so that training is memorable and easy to understand. Gamification is great for this.  Friendly competition organized in the form of leader boards or rewards will motivate employees to learn and evidence their learning.

Simple storytelling around goodies versus baddies can also work. Moreover, people love to hear real-life examples.


Cybersecurity risk caused by human error can be greatly reduced by implementing an effective cybersecurity awareness program. The 7 Attributes of Cybersecurity Awareness Training we’ve discussed here will help you to plan an effective program for your employees that will continuously work to keep cyber threats and cybersecurity best practices front and centre of their minds as they go about their daily routine.

Want help planning your cybersecurity training program? Speak to our expert team today about our industry leading training programs.

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