While most companies have annual security training programs, they probably aren’t always effective because, well, people get bored. When you’re bored, you tend to lose interest. But workforce training is essential to the health and success of your company, since the biggest security threat remains employees.
One of the easiest ways to make cybersecurity training more interesting is by making it fun. Here are five tips for making workforce security training fun and memorable.
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Add Humor to Your Training
Humor can be a great way to make security concepts memorable. There are many content creators, such as CyberOff, who focus on humor as a way to convey security concepts.
If you feel unsure about how to use humor in your security training, consider leveraging other content creators who have expertise in this area.
Large, annual security training sessions are necessary, but they can be ineffective if there is no accountability or follow-up. People have a harder time focusing on long training sessions, and it can be hard to remember important takeaways or actionable items. Additionally, it can be difficult to create a mindset of security within your organization when you only address these concepts annually.
To counteract these challenges, consistency is key. You may consider doing smaller, monthly or bi-monthly training among teams or departments. This will allow you to do three important things:
You will cultivate a mindset of security by keeping it top-of-mind, and following up with key takeaways from larger training. You can also provide employees with handouts, examples of the security principles, or other informational materials.
You can ask team members to lead training on simple topics (e.g., password security, email phishing). People are more likely to remember and value information if they teach it to others.
You can tailor your training to specific teams so that the content, purpose, and objectives are relevant. For example, training on front desk security best practices may be different from HR best practices.
Finally, develop a clear system for your employees to report social engineering attempts. This will make it easier for your employees to report any suspicious emails or SMS texts.
Gamify the training
Gamification, the application of game principles (such as competition or point-scoring) in non-game contexts, is continuing to increase in popularity as a method to encourage participation.
Having incentives can be a powerful way to facilitate engagement, but other benefits include team spirit, friendly competition, motivation to learn about and apply concepts, and a sense of accomplishment.
Learn more about gamification in cyber security awareness training here.
Make training meaningful
Include good content in your training sessions and don’t make training longer than they need to be. Highlight actionable items in your training so that employees know what they can do to be more secure.
Avoid overly-generalized training. Instead, make it specific and relevant to your departments. Your marketing team may need different training than your IT team or the front desk secretary.
Part of good training is having ways to follow up with employees. If you have actionable items in your training, following up can be easy. Team meetings, company meetings, or even HR software that can track assignments can be easy ways to follow up on actionable items.
It can be helpful to give positive feedback to your employees when they implement training policies or good security hygiene. Thank employees for notifying the company of social engineering attempts, such as phishing emails or SMS scams. This can help encourage employees to keep an eye out for malicious content and create a sense of motivation and meaning for maintaining a mindset of security.
Use varied approaches
There are many learning styles for the individuals in your organization, and you don’t want your employees to dread training or zone out while they do it. Make sure to utilize your available in order to meet the needs of your employees.
For example, perhaps you include a training video in your company newsletter on a universal security topic, such as phishing. A video will help engage audio-visual learners, while a gamified approach will engage other learning styles.
Posters, handouts, mantras, contests, swag, tests, videos, infographics, team training, humor, and many other modes can all contribute to inclusivity and a mindset of security.
While it may seem like an odd place to be creative, a positive environment and engaging security training could lead to a much more fortified workforce. The more you can influence your employees to be secure, the better your odds for avoiding a breach caused by a workforce error. This can be especially crucial as more organizations offer permanent work-from-home options.
Best practices for creating a mindset of security in your organization include:
Communicate often: Focus each month on a different aspect of data security, such as password security, social engineering, or email phishing.
Give frequent reminders: Emphasize data security best practices to your employees through emails, newsletters, meetings, or webinars.
Train employees on new policies ASAP: Newly hired employees should be trained on security and PCI policies as quickly as possible.
Make training materials easily available: Intranet sites are a great way to provide access to training and policy information.
Set clear expectations: Don’t present training as a list of “Do Nots.” Rather, help employees see that they all have a vested interest in protecting the organization and its business.
Create incentives: Reward your employees for being proactive.
Regularly test employees: Create an environment where employees aren’t afraid to report suspicious behavior.